To be honest, it wasn’t at all random as to why I ended up there that night. I went to see Judas Rising, a Judas Priest tribute band based in Chicago. As a fan of Priest growing up, I felt this was my chance to relive some past memories and enjoy the energy of a roomful of people who were there for the same reason as I.
A good-sized crowd was on hand as the band kicked into “Electric Eye”, the key track, in my opinion, on the Screaming for Vengeance album. Instantly, everyone’s attention was turned to the stage thanks to Rising’s dead on rendition of the song and their in-your-face presence. Joe Martina strolled onto the stage donned in a black leather vest, dark sunglasses, biker hat and the essential metal accessories such as a chrome-studded belt and spiked wristbands. Martina certainly looked the part of legendary frontman/singer Rob Halford, but, more impressively, he was able to carry out a convincing performance by executing the difficult vocals that come along with Judas Priest.
Judas Rising performed a collection of songs ranging from Priest’s Sad Wings of Destiny to Painkiller. Favorites include “Victim of Changes”, “Breaking the Law”, “Jawbreaker” and “Exciter”, which really allowed Martina to test his range to the thrill of the crowd. After a thorough set, Rising was summoned back to the stage by a chanting crowd in which they played “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and finished the night off with “Hell Bent for Leather”.
Greg LoBello and Neven Trivic shared guitar duties, splitting leads and playing harmonies just as Priest’s K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton have done for the past four decades. At times the two dabbled with the famed choreography that had Tipton and Downing side by side, rocking back and forth. Rebel Radio’s Scott Davidson did a great job banging away on the drums and supplying the steady tempo, meshing nicely with bass player Rob Wilhelm.
There are tribute bands and then there are bands that, with good intentions, try to sound like their favorite artists. Judas Rising is a certified tribute band and they are a very good one. It’s not very often that one is able to see a band that may have been a part of their past – or present. Tribute bands open the door to such an opportunity. Playing often and nearby, bands like Judas Rising supply a demand for music fans of all generations. If done right – and Rising does it very well – a tribute band will present to its following a respectable window into the days of yesteryear for some to experience again, and for others to find for the first time.
To find out when Judas Rising is playing next or to sample their material via audio or video, go to myspace.com/judasrisingchicago.