It is perhaps something of an irony that in the week that Paul Di’Anno plays his first UK show in ten years, Iron Maiden are finishing up their tour.

Whatever, though, their first singer is obviously delighted to be here. More than once in his 45 minutes he appears on the verge of tears, and there’s no doubt whatsoever that his emotions are genuine.

And there’s equally no doubt at all that he and his band are in top form in their set.

Made up exclusively of songs from his time in the Irons, it is absolutely special, still, to hear stuff from a period that Maiden themselves don’t do a lot from, especially from the voice that sang them originally. “Sanctuary”, “Wrathchild” and the rest, sound a little more ready for a back alley fight in this setting than they might usually, as Di’Anno, sitting in a chair due to his ongoing knee issues, just has that natural aggression.

He’s good too, perhaps if I’m honest, surprisingly so, as he dedicates “Remember Tomorrow” to Clive Burr (who’s wife is in the crowd) and the way he does “Phantom Of The Opera” underlines the way he’s put his own stamp on these.

Finishing with “Running Free” he talks about what the Hells Angels have done for him over the years, and this was a set full of a deliberate sort of nostalgia, but one shot through with real hope. And finally, an ability to look forward

Back on November 3rd, 2019, I was sitting in this very room – KK’s place, if you will – watching KK Downing play his first gig in a decade. I wrote that night, “It was a privilege to have been there to witness the first full gig in ten years of one of the very, very best.”

Tonight, it feels similar, but it also feels like we’re witnessing the birth of something, as it’s the very first show that KK’s Priest has played.

There’s a buzz in the crowd at the venue owned by KK Downing, probably the best in the country, and there are likely nerves in the dressing room. Yet, all of that is washed away the moment KK appears high on the left side of the stage, opening with the riff of “Hellfire Thunderbolt.”

This track is from their debut album “Sermons of the Sinner,” and it’s accompanied by pyrotechnics reminiscent of a stadium gig. As a way of making a first impression…

What follows is essentially a lesson not only on how to headline a metal gig but also on making it feel like a spectacle.

The band – and make no mistake, this is a band, not just KK and some hired guns – has just released a new single, and “One More Shot At Glory” is another example of their quality. However, there’s that second part of the band’s name, isn’t there? “The Ripper” is greeted deliriously (it’s been a damn long time since the other Priest has toured this country, after all).

There’s a debut for a brand new tune, “Reap The Whirlwind,” but apart from the album’s title track, it’s basically half an hour of solid Priest. Tony Newton on bass, in particular, looks like he’s enjoying himself, and A.J. Mills, the other guitar player, is a perfect foil for Downing. Tim “Ripper” Owens clearly knows this stuff inside out. It’s quite something.

And so are the songs. “Beyond The Realms Of Death” sounds especially epic. Downing’s solo, the drumming from Sean Elg, and the scope of what they are doing, while “Hell Patrol” captures the essence of their sound. And if “Metal Meltdown” does likewise as they delve into the archives a little, then “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown)” is truly glorious.

To no one’s surprise, “Breaking The Law” makes an appearance. In fact, the only question here is how the hell Owens hits the notes he does on “Victim Of Changes.” It’s astonishing.

It feels a little churlish to say anything critical about something so good, but it felt odd that “Raise Your Fists” was the only song in the encore. It’s only because you wanted more.

This underscores the fact that this is not Priest, but KK’s Priest, and they are here to stay.

Something special happened here. It really did. A metal phenomenon was born, and 2000 people were lucky enough to witness it.

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