Scott Kucharski

PHOTOS: Judas Priest and Sabaton at Santander Arena in Reading, 09/08/21

PHOTOS: Judas Priest and Sabaton at Santander Arena in Reading, 09/08/21
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

The legendary Judas Priest kicked off their U.S. Firepower Tour in Wilkes-Barre in 2018, and they returned to Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Sept. 8 to begin their 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour at the Santander Arena in Reading.

The madness of opening night started with Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton and their raucous 12-song set featuring selections from their nine-album catalog as well as “Defence of Moscow” and the live debut of their new single “Steel Commanders,” both from their upcoming release “The War to End All Wars.” Playing in front of a war-themed screen while sporting their signature black-and-white fatigues and occasional gas mask costumes, the band whipped the crowd into a full lather in anticipation of the headliner, metal gods Judas Priest.

The black-clad icons took the stage shortly after 9 p.m. and immediately hit the ground running with “One Shot at Glory” from 1990’s “Painkiller,” “Lightning Strike” from 2018’s “Firepower,” and their anthem “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” from 1982’s “Screaming for Vengeance.”

Set in front of a backdrop depicting a post-apocalyptic cityscape including rusted metal pieces scavenged from in and around Reading, the band was led by a steely white-bearded Rob Halford, still dressed in his trademark studded leather fringe jacket and sounding just as great at 70 as he did at 30. Current members Ian Hill (bass), Scott Travis (drums), Richie Faulkner (guitars), and touring guitarist Andy Sneap ripped through 18 songs, including a four-song encore that spanned the decades and left headbangers wanting more.

50 years into a legendary career in heavy music, Judas Priest showed no signs of slowing down on the opening night of this epic anniversary tour.