jakub | March 12, 2024

KK’s Priest, with L.A. Guns and Burning Witches, Blasted Through the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, March 10, 2024


 

 

The historic Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, played host to the most recent stop of the “Return of the Sinner USA Tour 2024” featuring KK’s Priest, L.A. Guns and Burning Witches on Sunday night. Built in 1930, this 1,800-capacity venue was originally designed in a Spanish baroque style and offers a general admission floor setting with an upper, seated balcony area. It is always a great indoor destination to catch a live show, especially when it is still a chilly 45 degrees outside in the South.

Kicking off the night at 7:30 pm was Burning Witches, a Switzerland-based, all-female band founded in 2015 by its guitarist Romana Kalkuhl. The band took to the stage and launched into “Unleash the Beast” from their latest release, The Dark Tower (2023), with a noticeably missing Kalkuhl from the live lineup. Lead singer Laura Guldemond subsequently announced to the crowd that Kalkuhl was under medical care for her ailing back so Courtney Cox was going to handle all the guitar duties for the evening.

Without missing a beat, Burning Witches delivered an energetic six-song, 30-minute helping of power metal in front of the early crowd. Given their short set, Burning Witches sadly didn’t perform their recently released cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Shot in the Dark.” However, behind Guldemond’s enchanting vocals and the band’s tight musicianship (even with Kalkuhl’s absence), you can count me impressed by Burning Witches.

 

Burning Witches
Laura Guldemond – Vocals
Romana Kalkuhl – Guitars (did not perform)
Courtney Cox – Guitars
Jeanine Grob – Bass
Lala Frischknecht – Drums

 

 

Setlist:

1.) Unleash the Beast
2.) Wings of Steel
3.) Hexenhammer
4.) Lucid Nightmare
5.) The Dark Tower
6.) Burning Witches

 

With the equipment nearly turned from Burning Witches, L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns strolled across the stage in front of the screaming Atlanta crowd as the clock was about to hit the 8:30pm hour. Sunday night also marked a return to Atlanta for L.A. Guns, who last performed here (also at the Buckhead Theatre) back in July 2022 as part of the Sonic Slam Tour with Faster Pussycat and Tom Keifer.

As before, the band started off their raucous set with “Cannonball” from their 2021 album release, Checkered Past. Lead singer Phil Lewis remains one of the most charismatic frontmen of the ’80s, with that iconic, gritty voice that uniquely gives L.A. Guns “the Sunset Strip sound” fans from that era are familiar with. Guns and Lewis, along with Ace Von Johnson (guitar), Johnny Martin (bass) and Shawn Duncan (drums), delivered an in-your-face, grimy L.A. Guns experience for the next hour with wide-open energy and reckless abandonment.

While their setlist was still primarily pulled from the band’s first two albums – the self-titled L.A. Guns (1988) and Cocked & Loaded (1989) – this time through town they treated the audience to “You Betray” from their latest release, Black Diamonds (April 2023). I would never complain about L.A. Guns playing tunes like “Electric Gypsy” or “Sex Action,” but as a long-time fan, I also wish they would find a way to sprinkle in “No Mercy” or “One More Reason” as well. Setlist aside, watching Guns dominate his Gibson on one side of the stage while Von Johnson and Martin enjoyably performed for each other on the other was heavy metal magic.

Teasing out that they were going to play some of their “’80s anthems,” Lewis lead the band through three consecutive fan favorites in “Never Enough,” followed by arguably the band’s biggest hit, “The Ballad of Jayne,” to then conclude their nine-song set with the punchy “Rip and Tear.” L.A. Guns should really consider headlining their own club tour. They simply continue to kick ass live.

 

L.A. Guns
Tracii Guns – Guitars, Vocals
Phil Lewis – Lead Vocals
Ace Von Johnson – Guitars, Vocals
Johnny Martin – Bass, Vocals
Shawn Duncan – Drums

 

 

Setlist:

1.) Cannonball
2.) Electric Gypsy
3.) Over the Edge
4.) You Betray
5.) Sex Action
6.) Speed
7.) Never Enough
8.) The Ballad of Jayne
9.) Rip and Tear

 

Following an introduction by a demonic character on a huge video screen behind Sean Elg’s drum kit, KK’s Priest stormed out to the stage shortly after 9:45pm to “Hellfire Thunderbolt,” a tune off the band’s 2021 release, Sermons of the Sinner. Coming off their Monsters of Rock Cruise performance last week, Atlanta marked the fourth stop on the band’s 14-date U.S. touring debut. Now out in support of their sophomore album, The Sinner Rides Again (2023), KK’s Priest is anchored by former Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing, along with his one-time Priest bandmate, vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens.

Traveling with a stadium-feeling stage setup replete with a raised walkway bracketing the drum riser, smoke machines and strobes, Downing and Owens lead the faithful Judas Priest fans through a musical journey that celebrated that band’s — and Downing’s — legacy. Supported by A.J. Mills (guitar), Tony Newton (bass), and Elg, the 72-year-old Downing showcased his guitar shredding mastery as the band ripped through a 14-song set, including seven Judas Priest classics. Downing is heavy metal royalty, so getting an opportunity to watch him trade chords with Mills all night was a sight not to be missed.

Admittedly I never had the opportunity to catch Owens during the years he fronted Judas Priest, but his live vocals were as powerful and resonate on Sunday night as I had hoped. KK’s Priest delivered blistering performances of Judas Priest favorites “Breaking the Law,” “Night Crawler,” and “Hell Patrol,” while not losing sight of highlighting their own original material in tunes such as “One More Shot of Glory” and “Brothers of the Road.” Reaching deep down into the catalog, KK’s Priest also polished off their main set with “Victim of Changes” from the 1976 Judas Priest album Sad Wings of Destiny.

With the crowd still amped up, the band returned to perform a two-song encore, beginning with what Owens said one was one his favorite songs off Sermons of the Sinner, “Raise Your Fists.” KK’s Priest then put a punctuation on the night by returning to The Sinner Rides Again with the banger “Strike of the Viper.” While the fans were streaming out of the venue exhausted from headbanging and fist pounding, I overheard a group discussing the night, reflecting that they “had expected the show to be good, but it was just short of perfect.” Enough said.

This first leg of the Return of the Sinner USA Tour continues on through Sunday, March 24th, where it will wrap up in Glenside, Pennsylvania, at the Keswick Theatre.

 

KK’s Priest

K. K. Downing – Guitars, backing vocals
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Lead vocals
A.J. Mills – Guitars, backing vocals
Tony Newton – Bass, backing vocals
Sean Elg – Drums

 

 

Setlist:

1.) Hellfire Thunderbolt
2.) One More Shot at Glory
3.) The Ripper (Judas Priest cover)
4.) Reap the Whirlwind
5.) Night Crawler (Judas Priest cover)
6.) Burn in Hell (Judas Priest cover)
7.) Beyond the Realms of Death (Judas Priest cover)
8.) Hell Patrol (Judas Priest cover)
9.) Brothers of the Road
10.) The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover)
11.) Breaking the Law (Judas Priest cover)
12.) Victim of Changes (Judas Priest cover)

Encore
13.) Raise Your Fists
14.) Strike of the Viper

 

 

 

 

 

 

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