KK’s Priest + Paul Di’Anno + Burning Witches @ O2 Institute, Birmingham – 7th October 2023


They’re a little slow allowing the assembled throng into the venue tonight meaning that openers Burning Witches are playing to a half-empty hall. However, if the band are flummoxed at all they don’t show it and hit the ground running with a full-on sonic assault, as those present hold their horns high in affirmation. With their twin guitar attack and follicles flying whilst throwing all the right shapes, Burning Witches play like it is 1985 but don’t write them off as some kind of retro act because the energy they display places them firmly in the present. Vocalist Laura Guldemond in particular is a force of nature and draws favourable comparisons with Doro Pesch, but it would be unfair to single out any one member because Burning Witches are a force of nature, and it is impossible not to get swept up in their sheer effervescence.

There’s a lot of love in the house for vocalist Paul Di’Anno. Having appeared on the first two (and arguably best) Iron Maiden albums his legacy is assured despite (or perhaps because of) his turbulent private life. For many present, this is their first chance catching the man in the flesh, and a huge cheer erupts as he’s hoisted onto the stage, wheelchair-and-all. After the intro tape, ‘The Ides Of March’, Paul and band (essentially a bunch of hired hands) get straight down to business with an earth-shaking version of ‘Wrathchild’. Tonight’s set is culled from those first two Maiden albums, and with such strong songs to draw upon, they really can’t go wrong. Despite being confined by his chair, Paul hasn’t lost his confrontational air and a sense of danger seems to emanate from the stage, and you can see the veins bulging from his head as he unleashes his trademark screams during ‘Killers’. Closing with ‘Running Free’ creates a huge sing-along and caps a legendary set from a legendary performer, and once Paul gets back on his feet, he’s going to be unstoppable.

While we are on the subject of legends, there is perhaps none larger in the world of heavy metal than guitarist K.K. Downing. Having co-written some of metal’s biggest anthems, his place in the hallowed halls of musical Valhalla is assured, but as his current project KK’s Priest proves, he is not content to rest upon past glories and he’s boldly marching into the future with his band of brothers. In fact, while many of his peers are settling into the heritage circuit, K.K. is still displaying the same veracity he radiated half-a-decade ago. Yet heavy metal (and by extension, Judas Priest) is in this man’s D.N.A. so there’s been no radical reinvention, it’s still the same K.K. pulling rumbustious riffs from his guitar and delivering them with the same sparkle. There’s an electricity crackling the air as we await the band and as the stage lights are dimmed, a huge cheer erupts as a suitably spooky intro tape sets the scene nicely. Amidst plumes of smoke and a thunderous drum roll the band arrive and hit the ground running. We’ve been treated to two strong opening acts, yet KK’s Priest hit the gas and take things into overdrive with a chest-thumping ‘One More Shot At Glory’ finding them firmly in the groove.

What’s my name?” screams singer Tim “Ripper” Owens which can only mean the arrival of ‘The Ripper’ and, truth be told, it is the perfect vehicle for his trademark glass-shattering screech. In fact, it seems the whole Judas Priest canon was written for him and he turns ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’ into a haunting affair and ensures ‘Hell Patrol’ marches with military muster. It’s great to see K.K. and Ripper united, yet the whole band is full of interesting dynamics with drummer Sean Elg and hyperactive bassist Tommy Newton locking in tightly to deliver a ground-shaking, earth-quaking beat. This outfit affords K.K. more opportunity to solo, but he’s more than happy to let A.J. Mills take his fair share, and the two interact stunningly on a show-stopping cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)’. Tonight’s set mixes old Judas Priest songs with new KK numbers, the two rubbing together very well, but one things for certain; ‘Breaking The Law’ hasn’t been played with such vim and vigour for a long time. However, it’s two new cuts that are unleashed as encores; ‘Raise Your Fists’ and a first live outing for ‘Strike Of The Viper’ ensuring tonight won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

KK’s Priest Set List:

  1. Incantation (Intro Tape)
  2. Hellfire Thunderbolt
  3. One More Shot At Glory
  4. The Ripper
  5. Reap The Whirlwind
  6. Night Crawler
  7. Sermons Of The Sinner
  8. Burn In Hell
  9. Beyond The Realms Of Death
  10. Hell Patrol
  11. Brothers Of The Road
  12. Metal Meltdown
  13. The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)
  14. Breaking The Law
  15. Victim Of Changes


  1. Raise Your Fists
  2. Strike Of The Viper

Paul Di’Anno Set List:

  1. The Ides Of March (Intro Tape)
  2. Wrathchild
  3. Sanctuary
  4. Purgatory
  5. Remember Tomorrow
  6. Murders In The Rue Morgue
  7. Killers
  8. Transylvania
  9. Phantom Of The Opera