By Glenn Woodell
It’s hard to cover live music these days and not bring up the topic of the COVID-19 virus since it’s affected every aspect of life around the globe and especially that of live music. So, although Judas Priest did come to Virginia Beach and put on an amazing show as always, it wasn’t without some restrictions.
For one, the tickets were maxed out at 4,000 for the arena that can hold as many as 20,000 and for the media in attendance, no one was allowed in the photo pit except for a select few associated with the bands or the facility. This was still impressive since many bands have outright cancelled their tour dates. Still, there was the usual fervor you’d expect from a band that has been around since before many of those in attendance were even born.
Virginia Beach was the second US stop in the 80-show, 50 Heavy Metal Years tour, with a number of local musicians there to see Norfolk native and drummer, Scott Travis, the band’s first non-British member. Travis had been a well-known drummer in the local scene in the 80s and many of his long-time friends were in the crowd to cheer him on. He joined with Judas Priest in 1989.
For the tour, the stage was designed to resemble the inside of a foundry, with heavy, industrial components including chemical and hazardous storage tanks, pipes, and chains, and “J.P. Metal Works” (taking from their 1993 compilation album ) appearing throughout. The pitchfork/cross of their second album, was prominent throughout and a huge, illuminated version hung from the ceiling, The stage crew was dressed as metal workers, in coveralls adorned with the J.P Metal Works logo.
Rob Halford, who has been with the band continuously since 2003, had joined in 1973 but left in 1992. He followed his usual pattern of dressing up in the most flamboyant of leather outfits, one of which was adorned in gold, with long tassels from the arms, resembling the feathers of an eagle. He spent most of his time at center stage but often approached the simulated “roll up door” curtain where he exited and re-entered sometimes with a different outfit.
Striking was Halfold’s voice. Unlike many vocalists who have mastered the high end of the vocal range only to avoid it more in the later years of their careers, Halford repeatedly demonstrated his ability to hit the highs, even at the current age of 70. Equally striking was the ability of lead guitarist, Richie Faulkner to dance with his guitar throughout the show, in pure, rockstar style with his Epiphone Flying V.
Heavy metal “horns” were aplenty in the crowd as they cheered and sang and danced to the music. One especially devoted fan, also a local musician, came dressed as Halfold and looked almost like his double at a glance. Before the show he posed for pictures with several other fans who accosted him for selfies.
As usual, the encore included his famous ride in on his motorcycle, and this time, a huge inflatable Birmingham bull.
One Shot at Glory
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
A Touch of Evil
Victim of Changes
Blood Red Skies
Hell Bent for Leather
Breaking the Law
Living After Midnight