Ian Storck

Judas Priest Remains Invincible in 2024

Music Scene Media
May 4, 2024
5 min read

Hot off of the release of their acclaimed 19th album Invincible Shield, their first in 6 years since 2018’s Firepower, metal legends Judas Priest have set off on a spring US tour featuring support by Swedish power metallers Sabaton.

The Rosemont Theatre in the Chicago, Illinois suburbs was sold out early in anticipation of the return of the metal gods, and the crowd was hot for returning icons Judas Priest, as well as the powerhouse that is Sabaton.

Leading off with ‘Ghost Division,’ Sabaton’s Hannes Van Dahl appeared upon a large tank set at the center of the stage. The setup was simple, with a large backdrop featuring an array of figures from military history. Anyone unfamiliar with the group would be surprised to learn that not only were they in for an incredible set of heavy metal, but also a history lesson.

Whether it was giving information between songs, or sharing through the lyrics themselves, singer Joakim Brodén spit forth epic tales of victory and defeat, all from historical events through wartime. Early in the set saw fan favorites “The Last Stand,” about the Swiss guard of 1527, “ and “Bismarck,” a story of one of the largest warships in Europe at the time of WWII. 

While the songs are fairly heavy with their riffs and subject matter, the atmosphere of the show was more light-hearted. The band members joked with each other on stage, poking and distracting one another during the show, and generally seemed to be having a great time. One of the most visually exciting moments came during “Attack of the Dead Men,” as Brodén entered the stage with a WWI gas mask and canisters strapped to his back, wielding a chemical weapon spewing “gas” onto stage.

Though ample time given as the sole opening act, Sabaton concluded their set with the bouncy and energetic “To Hell and Back.” The theater had already been packed for their performance, and seeing the crowd singing along to almost every song made it clear that they could easily have a headline run of this size.

When it comes to heavy metal, there are few that may claim to be the originators of the genre. Recently, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford stated that they were the fathers, alongside Black Sabbath, and this tour proved that even 50 plus years later, they can still easily back up those statements.

With such a long history, every other song on the extensive set gets instantly recognized by the crowd. Despite opening with “Panic Attack,” off of the latest release, they immediately jumped into classic hits “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” and “Breaking the Law” to kick off the nearly two hour long set. The Invincible Shield album got plenty of promotion, with “Crown of Horns” as well as the eponymous track being performed, still giving enough room to cover the span of five decades and 18 other albums.

With such a long night, Halford and crew pulled no punches, with every high note and more being belted through the Rosemont Theatre, never missing a step. The shrieking and harsh “Painkiller” sounded as though it did on release, and the incredible riffs of “Electric Eye” were raw and heavy. While the performances were tight and technically fantastic, the actual stage presence relied heavily on Halford’s and guitarist Richie Faulkner’s interactions with the crowd. Priest’s signature cross logo formed a large, moving lighting rig that descended for certain tracks and added a bit of variety to the stage setup, and a video wall of visualizers helped create the atmosphere and aesthetic for specific tracks.

The brisk pace through the long set didn’t leave much time for banter and interaction between songs, though later in the set Halford patrolled the stage doing a vocal bit, reminiscent of Freddie Mercury’s call-and-repeat segments, though this time a bit more aggressive in tone. Momentarily noting the group’s history and tour, he paced across the stage, fist-bumping anyone who could reach him during the break.

What else can be said other than the fact that these are metal legends in the flesh (and leather), and going into this show you will get exactly what you expect: high screams, fast riffs, and a classic metal band that still manages to be at the top of their game over fifty years later.

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