Judas Priest at Toyota Arena


In our last episode of Judas Priest’s “50 Heavy Metal Years,” the Heavy-Metal legends had returned to the road after the pandemic derailed the tour, guitarist Richie Faulkner underwent emergency heart surgery, while founder and guitarist Glenn Tipton continued his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Coming off their victory lap from their recent induction to the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame, Monday’s show at the Toyota Arena in Ontario, CA was a testament to the band’s resilience - showcased in new-found passion, energy and fury.

The band made no mention of the tour and health hiccups; the newly inducted Hall Of Famers simply took the stage, ripping straight into a set list that would ignite the most extreme fan.  The anthemic “Electric Eye” and the driving “Riding on the Wind” opened the show and set the tone for the evening.  The Birmingham boys dove deep into their catalog – showcasing the hits and deep cuts: “You Got Another Thing Coming;” “Jawbreaker;” “Steeler;” “Genocide;” “Between The Hammer And The Anvil;” “Screaming For Vengeance” – just some of the essentials that night.

Even lower-tempo songs hit with the force of a wrecking ball. The dark and moody “Beyond the Realms of Death” provided a vulnerability and beauty showcased by guitar hero Richie Faulkner, that was more lyrical than furious.  The shuddering guitar riffs of “Steeler” and “Genocide” harnessed the high-speed power of the bands early era that made them jump to the forefront of their genre.  Bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis played blistering sets, all through a heavy sided sound-mix that proved to the many doubters that Hill is one of the most underrated bass players in hard rock.

Coming off the victory lap of their Rock Hall induction, it was apparent that the band had been refueled and given new life.  At 71, vocalist Rob Halford was at the top of his game; in fact, it was the best he has looked and sounded since 1991 – mesmerizing the loyal fans with his relentless and mathematical screeches in “Screaming For Vengeance.”  Halford maintained his flair for theatrics as he and his motorcycle made their legendary encore entrance to the stage.  As the show built to its climax, the band honored their home city of Birmingham with a giant red-eyed bull, engulfing the band just before Judas Priest closed with the triumphant “Living After Midnight.”

Taking a moment during the evening, while holding the band’s shiny, new Rock Hall award to the crowd, Halford said it best, “This is for you…this is because of you.  This is validation for you guys…for keeping the Heavy-Metal faith alive and defending the Heavy-Metal faith.  That is what this Heavy-Metal community is all about...it’s all about this community that loves each other.”

Word and Photos by Kevin Estrada / @KevinEstradaPhotography