Judas Priest Rocks Onondaga Lake

Finishing of the first leg of their Invincible Shield tour, Judas Priest played to a hyped-up crowd in Syracuse on May 22. With the help of Swedish metal group, Sabaton, the stage at Lakeview Amphitheater was rocking the shores of Onondaga Lake for nearly three hours.

50 years is quite the career in music. 50 years is something even more special when you are a pioneer, and Judas Priest is just that, special. Early pioneers of the heavy metal genre, Rob Halford and crew are still thrashing in 2024, promoting their newest release, Invincible Shield.

There is certainly some debate as to who are the OG’s of heavy metal. No matter who else you have on your list, Judas Priest deserves a spot. Formed in 1969, the band paved their own path to stardom, and it wasn’t until 1974, when a former salesman of men’s clothing took over as lead vocalist, did the band release an album. A young Rob Halford came in and in September of 1974, Rocka Rolla was released as the first of what would be nineteen studio albums.

Fast forward to 2024, Judas Priest is celebrating the 50 year anniversary of their first release with a tour as well as new music for fans. Along for the journey is Swedish metal band Sabaton, who had their own following in Syracuse, as the band opened the night with 50-minute set. Formed in 1999, Sabaton is Joakim Brodén, Hannes Van Dahl, Pär Sundström, Chris Rörland, and Thobbe Englund.

Lead vocalist Brodén and team took the stage that was adorned like a military museum. Photos of fighter jets, mic stands made of militant like weapons, a tank, and band members dressed in fatigues made for the perfect visual to the music, as many of Sabaton’s songs are based on periods of historical events. With Van Dahl and his drumkit perched atop the tank center stage, Sabaton went hard for nearly an hour with metal sounds that seemed like a toned down Rammstein set.

With some banter between songs, Brodén interacted with the large number of Sabaton fans in the audience, getting them involved. He even chatted briefly with a 4-year-old who was attending their first concert. As the set ends, background music is overpowered by the accepting applause and cheers from the pavilion area, an ode to solid opening act.

Sabaton set list: Ghost Division, The Last Stand, Swedish Pagans, The Red Baron, Bismarck, Stormtroopers, Carolus Rex(done in Swedish), Resist and Bite, The Attack of the Dead Men, Primo Victoria, Soldier of Heaven, To Hell and Back

Hitting the stage around 9pm, Halford and Co began their set off with “Panic Attack”, the lead track from newest album. With lyrics that seem to fit the political and social media landscape these days, this was a fitting song for not only the show, but 2024.

The clamour and the clatter of incensed keys
Can bring a nation to its knees
On the wings of a lethal icon
Bird of prey

Rounding out the first three for the photographers in the pit, Judas crushed “Rapid Fire” (1980) and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” (1982). Lucky for all of us photographers in the front of the stage, Halford and the rest of the band love getting up front and seemingly posing for the cameras.

While the music of Judas is not for everyone, it is always a joy to see fans bringing their kids to shows. Upfront, you see fans as young as four or five and as old as Halford himself, who is 72. Kids seeing a band their parents grew up with I am sure is a great bonding moment and testament to the power of music. The fact that a band like Judas Priest, while heavier in sound, is pretty family friendly music, which makes the decision to bring a child to the show that much easier.

As the progresses, fans get more and more into the music, chanting along and pumping fists as soon as the next song begins. “Turbo Lover” was prime example of this. Looking around, you could see faces open up as the drums and guitar notes were recognized. The guy next me ended his Tinder scrolling and the young lady in front of me began hooting and hollering by the time Halford started with “You won’t hear me, but you’ll feel me…”

Rounding out the set, were two more tracks from Invincible Shield: “Crown of Horns” and “Invincible Shield”, as well as “Painkiller”, which seemed to be the favorite of fans as the sounds from everyone was deafening.

After 50 years and a number of lineup changes, Judas Priest is still Judas Priest and Rob Halford, although his image has changed, is still Rob Halford. Nineteen studio albums, 50 million albums sold and several music awards later, Judas Priest has solidified their status among the greatest metal bands. Well deserved, they are a 2022 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as they were inducted by Alice Cooper.

Setlist: Panic Attack, You’ve Got Another Thing Coming, Rapid Fire, Breaking the Law, Lighting Strike, Love Bites, Devil’s Child, Saints in Hell, Crown of Horns, Sinner, Turbo Lover, Invincible Shield, Victim of Changes, The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Cow), Painkiller
Encore: Electric Eye, (exit music We are The Champions – Queen)
**Hell Bent For Leather and Living After Midnight were planned but venue was evacuated due to severe weather and set was cut short

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