Judas Priest prove they still stand toe-to-toe with their fellow legends with a blast of a set at Power Trip festival

Judas Priest kicked off the Saturday of Power Trip with a triumphant set that proved their status as Metal Gods

Rob Halford on stage at Power Trip
(Image: © Getty Images)

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Judas Priest might be a late addition to the Power Trip line-up - replacing fellow Brummie Ozzy Osbourne after he was forced to pull out in July - but the sheer number of Priest shirts on display is testament to the band's legend status in the heavy metal world.

War Pigs plays over the PA just before the band arrive in a nice tribute to Oz, but then it's all business as they roar to life with an introductory Hellion/Electric Eye one-two. "The Priest are back!" Rob Halford declares, still all studs and leather even in the oppressive desert heat.

Between-songs patter is kept to a minimal as the band blast through their arsenal of triumphant heavy metal anthems. The likes of Lightning Strike and Firepower are handy reminders that the band's glories are not so distantly past, while earlier hits The Sentinel and A Touch Of Evil are undeniably massive as guitarists Andy Sneap and Richie Faulkner sound titanic. 

Turbo Lover fails to excite the Power Trip audience in the same way as The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown) or US radio hit You've Got Another Thing Comin' do. But there's a trade-off of sorts in the appearance of Point Of Entry tracks Desert Plains and Heading Out On The Highway; tracks that seldom appear in UK setlists but seem to pop up with more reliability when it comes to international shows. Given their choppy riffs and radio-friendly choruses, you can't help but feel there's a cultural crossover that lends itself well to US audiences. 

And there is a sense that Priest have picked their battle with the home audience in mind. No new songs pop up - despite an announcement before they start that their 19th studio album Invincible Shield will arrive in March 2024 - while ballads and bluesy numbers are also kept at bay in favour of the brand of headbanging, fist-pumping heavy metal that made them so formidable in the States in the first place. 

Drummer Scott Travis is especially made up, declaring that California is the greatest place on earth. "We were asked, if you could play one show in 2023 with the five baddest ass bands on the planet.. we couldn’t resist,” he says before giving the kit a good clattering for Painkiller

40 years ago, Priest were riding high as Screaming For Vengeance gave the band their first major in-roads to American audiences, propelled in no small part by the radio success of You've Got Another Thing Comin'. An appearance at the legendary "Metal Day" of the US Festival in 1983 confirmed them as an all-conquering force, helping truly cement heavy metal as a commercial behemoth in the process. 

40 years later and Priest are still standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the biggest bands in the game and putting on a performance worthy of legend. From Rob riding a Harley on-stage for Hell Bent For Metal to the sheer bombast of Metal Gods - complete with a Glenn Tipton guest spot - and undeniable roar-alongs for closers Breaking The Law and Living After Midnight, the set ends on a buoyant and triumphant note, Priest still Metal Gods through and through.

Judas Priest setlist Power Trip October 7 2023

Electric Eye
Riding On The Wind
Heading Out On The Highway
Lightning Strike
Diamonds & Rust
The Sentinel
A Touch Of Evil
Turbo Lover
Desert Plains
Rapid Fire
The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Hell Bent For Leather
Metal Gods
Breaking The Law
Living After Midnight

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.