Home Gigs Gig Review : Judas Priest / Saxon / Uriah Heep – 15th March 2024, 3Arena, Dublin

Gig Review : Judas Priest / Saxon / Uriah Heep – 15th March 2024, 3Arena, Dublin

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Review by Paddy Gallagher for MPM

Now when this tour was announced the sense of excitement was palpable; 3 quality classic acts who are part of the history of Metal with approximately 150 years of producing the goods between them, at the start of a Bank Holiday weekend in Dublin? A no brainer to snap up tickets asap.

All roads lead to Dublin in what would be a busy weekend in the city, this major gig in the city’s 14000 capacity 3Arena, Saturday’s final 6 Nations Rugby international between Ireland and Scotland (the result of which could give the home nation back-to-back championships), and lastly, but by no means least, St Patrick’s Day on Sunday with the associated parades and international visitors. And Monday off work for the vast majority.

The normally pricy hospitality rates in Dublin were elevated to stratospheric levels due the weekend that was in it resulting in a significant amount of the concert goers electing to hire a bus for a round trip, as evident in the row of coaches parked on East Wall Road.

In the venue, Uriah Heep opened proceedings with their bluesy, heavy riffage. The downside of being opening act restricted the set to 35 minutes and as vocalist Bernie Shaw reasoned getting a representative setlist from a career spanning 26 albums proved quite the task.

We got two tracks from latest album “Chaos and Colour” and one track from 2018’s “Living the Dream” with the remaining four tracks coming from the 1970’s including “Gypsy” and “Easy Living”.

Short as it was, at least we weren’t as unlucky as the Glasgow crowd on Monday night past where first night gremlins limited the band to 5 songs. As fine a warmup as you will get anywhere, the night is hot out of the traps to a flying start!

Saxon took to the stage, starting with the title track off their superb new album “Hell, Fire and Damnation” which was accompanied by red lighting and dry ice, a cracking set opener both audibly and visually.

Biff and the boys ploughed through a strong set combining 4 songs off the new album. Along with the title track we got “Fire and Steel”, “Madame Guillotine” and “There’s Something in Roswell”, with classic staples like “Motorcycle Man”, “Crusader”, “Strong Arm of the Law” (both of the last two beating “Dallas 1pm” in separate votes) and set closers “Denim and Leather” and “Princess of the Night”.

The lads were having immense fun reflected in Biff’s statement “What a line up! Judas Priest / Saxon / Uriah Heep, I’d buy a ticket for that me self and put it on my kitchen wall”.

What made tonight extra special was Saxon playing to a near capacity arena, both band and crowd combining to make it a special visit to Dublin for them. Biff’s voice is as strong as ever, Nibbs Carter never staying too long in the one place he’s so into the music, with his head banging away.

Doug Scarratt impeccably riffing and soloing away and Nigel Glockler pounding the skins, the beating heart of the music; and a special mention to Brian Tatler; who better to replace Quinny but the man who wrote some of the most iconic riffs in Metal!

A mind-blowing performance from the Barnsley boys, an arena stage being where Saxon should play every gig as they thoroughly deserve it, no offence to The Ulster Hall or The Olympia.

After two perfect sets from the Heep and Saxon, who better than Judas Priest with the Metal God himself on vocals, Mr Rob Halford to continue to the night to curfew.

Their performance started slightly subdued for me, the first song in the set suffering from a sound mix that wasn’t great for Rob’s high-pitched lines making them barely audible unlike those when he switched to a lower pitch. That said the opener is new album opener “Panic Attack”, magnificent riffage laying down the gauntlet for what was to follow.

And what followed was classic Priest, perhaps the most defining band of that speedy, melody laden heavy metal favoured by many modern-day luminaries of the trade such as Primal Fear, Metal Church, Exciter, Enforcer and Night Demon.

You can’t go wrong when you have songs such as “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, “Breaking the Law”, “Turbo Lover”, “Painkiller” in your set along with surprise inclusions “You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise” from the “British Steel” album and “Sinner” from the “Sin after Sin” album along with newbies “Invincible Shield” and debutant “Crown of Horns”.

The cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)” holding special memories for me casting back to hearing it in the early 1980’s when I bought “Unleashed in the East”.

Encores of “Electric Eye”, “Hell Bent for Leather” and “Living After Midnight” brought a magnificent night of Metal to a close. A superb, enjoyable occasion as agreed by the many comrades I spoke with in the concourse and at the exits, and indeed in many message forums since.

I have to say though that Saxon shaded it as band of the night. That performance was so good it was nigh on impossible to follow. They had the all-round better sound (to my dodgy and unqualified in sound engineering ears) and had a better connection along with the best crowd interaction on the night.

How good was it to see the 14000 capacity 3Arena practically sold out! It truly was a night to celebrate Metal, its past glories, current successes and to spend the evening once again in the company of like-minded brothers and sisters in Metal!

Photography by MPM

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