Hordes of black-shirted metal worshippers filtered through the cold streets of downtown Baton Rouge past the bars blasting house music, past the sorority girls screaming "I love The Misfits!!" from the balconies, and into the Raising Cane's River Center where they would finally get to see The Metal Gods. Judas Priest rarely performs in Louisiana; all of the past tour dates took place in the 1980s. The last Baton Rouge show for Judas Priest was in 1983.
Judas Priest's stage was a sight to behold. It was set up as some kind of menacing and foreboding factory with decaying tanks, rusting chemical barrels, and wicked chains and hooks hanging down. Perhaps it was somewhat reminiscent of Priest's hometown of Birmingham, the English city heavily bombed in World War II whose broken buildings and wounded spirit also gave birth to other NWOBHM bands including Black Sabbath ("War Pigs" played before Judas Priest took the stage). Perhaps it was a commentary on conflicts happening in other parts of the world that forced Judas Priest to cancel some of their tour dates.
Regardless of the reason, the dreary scene exploded with life as the massive Judas Priest logo lit up and crept up from the stage into the rafters. The men of Judas Priest ran onto the stage and launched into "Electric Eye" quickly followed by "Riding On The Wind". The surging crowd was barely held back by the barricade as they tried to get closer and closer to the band who were all wearing killer black leather suits studded with gold spikes.
For one song only, a giant disco ball rose from behind the decayed towers and cast a cleansing swirling light to every corner of the surging arena. It then sank bank down and brought everyone back to the toxic wasteland. For the song "Genocide", religious symbols of every faith imaginable flashed across the screen rapidly. All of the symbols were fed into a crucible that melted them down into molten metal which was then poured into Judas Priest's band symbol.
Rob Halford definitely has a lot of energy and did not stop moving for one second on that stage. When he would hit his highest notes like in "Screaming for Vengeance" people would put their fingers to their ears to shield them from the sting. His falsetto notes would just pierce your skull like a knife. It was truly impressive.
After Rob rode in valiantly on his motorcycle, the band had to play the crowd favorites "Hell Bent for Leather," "Breaking the Law," and "Living After Midnight" for the final songs. Rob asked everyone to sing along which they did happily. As the song wound down and the audience clamored, Rob emphasized that they would absolutely be back, "because we're Judas Fucking Priest!!" After they quickly bowed and exited the stage, the screen showed "Judas Priest Will Be Back!" The fans lingered, hopeful and confused. Was this truly the end of the show? Would it take another 30-something years for Priest to get back to Louisiana? I guess we'll just have to sit with our anticipation and find out when they deem us worthy.