Judas Priest is not just another long-running band as they've been making music for over 40 years; a fact that beloved frontman Rob Halford reiterated to the crowd at the Hard Rock Live at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, MS, that ranged in age from younger people seeing Priest for the first time to those who have loved them since the beginning. And in that crowd, there were hardcore fans dressed for the night like excited children showing off their costumes for Halloween. I recall one man in particular in a floor length black trenchcoat wearing priest (Catholic-kind) garb. They gathered around the gigantic curtain that soon gave way to their elated cheers and horns held high.
The band rapidly launched into their set which included lesser known songs that some were elated to hear. Judas Priest opened with "Dragonaut," "Metal Gods," and the more rare live song "Devil's Child." For legal purposes, casinos here are pretty much boats; the gaming areas literally float on the water, and you could feel the entire room shaking along with the ecstatic jumping and foot-pounding of the crowd to the musical beat to the point of feeling like I needed to find my sea legs fast.
Rob Halford, being 64 years young in August, did not show any signs that he is the age he is; he performed with incredible energy and enthusiasm. Being extremely lucky enough to be against the stage and very near to Rob, I can tell you that between belting out lines while the mic was down, he would look out into the audience and just yell out exclamations of excitement and fervor; he also dazzled us with too many costume changes to even count! He was having as much of a great time as the crowd of over 1000 that he commanded effortlessly through songs like "Turbo Lover," "Beyond the Realms of Death," and of course "Breaking the Law" followed by a dramatic entrance onto the stage on a motorcycle to sing "Hell Bent for Leather." Normally at such shows you expect to see people just partying, not really paying attention to the stage, or constantly at the bar just having conversations that could definitely wait until later…but not this show. Everyone in attendance was truly entranced by the band, the light show, and the towering LED screen showing images of a raging fire, nuclear bomb testing, a series of their album covers, and things that only fans would understand.
All good things must come to an end, but Judas Priest did give the throng two encores that included "Electric Eye," "Painkiller," and finally ended with "Living After Midnight." They left after a lengthy bow and throwing some highly coveted picks to some lucky fans. This was one of the best shows I've been to because of the perfect execution of the show, a crowd that was too focused on it to be agitating or overly intoxicated, and a man that will never cease to amaze.