March 23, 2024, a month ago

Words and Photos by James Garvin

gallery hard rock heavy metal kk's priest l.a. guns burning witches

No question K.K. Downing is a legend in our genre of music, having been one of the early architects of heavy metal music, THE progenitor of the twin lead guitar attack which was the blueprint for what would follow, and which many, if not most, metal bands still use today. I eagerly grabbed the first two releases, but never anticipated I’d actually see the live version.

K.K.’s Priest is now on a run in the U.S., and stopped at the MegaCorp Pavilion in Newport, Kentucky on March 19. For all the accolades we can appropriately throw at K.K. Downing, K.K.’s Priest is most assuredly a band, and not a solo act. K.K. did not constantly grab the spotlight or center stage. Rather, he shared the stage with the other guys, and each had time in the spotlight.

I can’t imagine a better choice to front the band than Ripper Owens. Sounding great, of course. He seems to have a knack for creating a more intimate small club vibe despite the larger venue, larger stage, and elaborate light show. On this tour, K.K.’s Priest does not shortchange the spectacle.

The show was a mix of material from K.K.’s Priest’s first two releases (“Hellfire Thunderbolt”, “One More Shot At Glory”, “Reap The Whirlwind”, “Brothers Of The Road”, “Strike Of The Viper”, “Raise Your Fists”,) classic Judas Priest (“Green Manalishi”, “Breaking The Law”, “The Ripper”, “Beyond The Realms Of Death”,) and Priest deeper cuts (“Hell Patrol”, “Night Crawler”.) While the show was great from beginning to end, two songs stood out for me. The first was “Burn In Hell”, a song I’d never thought I’d hear live, and which I’ve always thought was criminally underrated, with a killer riff and heavy aggression. The second was “Victim Of Changes”, a song he owned, handling the guitar work, and taking center stage up front.

I’ll not leave out the opening bands which complete the tour. This was the second time in a little over a month I’ve seen L.A. Guns, and named their show last year as my favorite of the year. While Phil Lewis was a little under the weather, he sounded terrific, as did the band. Given the shorter opening slot, they managed nine tunes, appropriately including “Rip And Tear”, “Speed”, “Ballad Of Jayne”, “Never Enough”, “Cannonball”, “Sex Action”, “Electric Gypsy”, and “Like A Drug” from last year’s release Black Diamonds.

Opening the show were Swiss power metallers Burning Witches, not a band with which I was familiar. They burned through six songs, ending with a version of Dio’s “Holy Diver”. Based on my conversations with fellow metalheads, everyone was impressed. I saw a nice crowd picking up their merch.

If you have the opportunity, you need to get to this show. This is a great package. And an opportunity to see a legend.

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