KK’s Priest, L.A. Guns, and Burning Witches – Pittsburgh, PA – 3/17/2024

Our weekend concluded with the triple threat of Burning Witches, L.A. Guns, and KK’s Priest on St. Patrick’s day with a Sunday evening performance at Stage AE on Pittsburgh’s North Shore, but with the city’s parade being the day prior we saw more black than green in the crowd.

Burning Witches opened the show with high-kicking Swedish front woman Laura Guldemond and her Swiss bandmates, Romana Kalkul on guitar, Jay Grob on bass, and Lala Frischknecht on drums, immersing us in their mayhem.  Since we saw them on last April’s Monsters of Rock Cruise, the band has officially welcomed Iron Maidens guitarist Courtney Cox to their coven after what was initially a temporary role subbing for Larissa Ernst.

Cox had just stowed away on the 2024 Monsters of Rock Cruise to jam with the girls from Paradise Kitty and once again rock the crowd during one of Tyson Leslie’s Rare Hare Jams.  Sadly, we didn’t catch her on the boat, but it was great to catch up following the show (and a bit humorous that I was mistaken as a member of the band more than once that evening).

The ladies are making noise with a new album, with cuts from The Dark Tower release, “Unleash the Beast” and the album’s title track, included in their set.  While only a handful of songs were played, five or six in total, their songs are epic in length and three songs gave us more than enough time to capture the hair spinning fun from the photo pit.

They had the crowd’s complete attention with fists in the air and chatting throughout the set, and finished strong with their anthem “Burning Witches” much to the applause for those in the know. And, the ladies took turns visiting with fans at their merch stand throughout the night, giving everyone the opportunity for a photo or an autograph, making new fans along the way.  There were also VIP experiences available and I met one of the youngest fans in the front row who was ecstatic to get one of Jay’s guitar picks.  We’ve caught up with these talented ladies at M3 Rock Festival and on the cruise as noted earlier, and wish them safe travels as they greet fans in across the US again this year.

L.A. GUNS fills the middle slot on this tour giving everyone’s ears a bit of a break from the metal roar with straight ahead rock music and a little humor sprinkled in. Since the self-titled debut in 1988 to the widely praised 2017 comeback album “The Missing Peace”, L.A. GUNS has always been one of my favorite bands.  In fact, frontman Philip Lewis, who was having the best time trying to block my drummer shots of Shawn, told me that he’d never seen a photographer sing their songs so perfectly while snapping (and I suppose that’s why I’m losing my voice again).

I can’t help it.  From Tracii’s intro prelude to “Diary of a Madman” to their tried but true triple shot of  “Cannonball” from their 2021 release Checkered Past and classics “Electric Gypsy” and “Over the Edge” leading the charge, it’s easy to get caught up even while working in the pit.

The band’s touring line-up features the dynamic duo of Phil Lewis on vocals and Tracii Guns on guitar, along with Ace Von Johnson (Faster Pussycat) on guitar, Johnny Martin (The Chelsea Smiles, Tiffany) on bass, and Shawn Duncan (Odin) on drums.

I wish they could have played longer, but I love that they still fit in the ballad medley of “Crystal Eyes” and “The Ballad of Jayne” and that they finished strong with the electric “Rip & Tear.”  After this run you can find them back on the road with Tom Keifer with the fantastic Live & Loud tour combo.

Hard to believe it’s been over a dozen years since guitarist and songwriter K.K. Downing departed Judas Priest, the iconic band he co-founded and played with for 40 years.  It seems retirement didn’t suite him as his band KK’s Priest has just released their sophomore album entitled The Sinner Rides Again.

Downing is joined by former Judas Priest frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens, guitarist A.J. Mills, bassist Tony Newton, and drummer Sean Elg, all of which, just sailed with us on the Monsters of Rock Cruise earlier this month.  They then kicked-off their US Tour in Miami, Florida.  Going strong with sold-out rooms in the East, the band offers a larger than life screen show reminiscent of the fantasy realm that Ronnie James Dio would create in the shadows with monsters narratives and ancient battles foreshadowing the metal the would be unleashed during their show.

From loud guitars, thunderous drums, and high-pitched wails in perfect harmony to slick leather, pounding fists, and spinning hair, it was everything a metal fan could ask for.  In my opinion, highlights from the evening included the high-speed “Hellfire Thunderbolt” from the album Sermons of the Sinner, which always tops my playlist, and their cover of “The Ripper” which is only appropriate given Tim’s title. As expected, this allowed for some fun crowd participation early on as he asked the crowd what his name was with pride.Their passion and aggression fulled the show that covered all the bases from Ripper-era Judas Priest like “Burn in Hell” from the 1997 Jugulator and the the mandatory fist-raising anthem “Breaking the Law” from British Steel which was delivered with a Union Jack backdrop to close the night strong.


The saga continues with the following dates, and more US and North America shows to be announced:

MARCH 20 – CLEVELAND, OH – AGORA THEATER (hometown show for Ripper)

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Watch for more festival coverage from this month’s Monsters of Rock Cruise coming soon as well as local shows including the return of Kingdom Come and the sold-out Tesla performance on Saturday at MGM Northfield.

More coverage with Joe Satriani and Steve VaiFirewind, and the Queensryche and Armored Saint shows coming next month.  And in May, you’ll find us at the M3 Rock Festival in Baltimore.

Coverage by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen on 3/19/2024.  All event photos by Kara Uhrlen and The Pure Rock Shop.