Any rock fan worth his mullet will know that the phrase ‘heavy metal’ and the name ‘Judas Priest’ are synonymous with one another; and that for the past four decades, the English heavy metal legends have gifted them with a lifetime of music and loads of head-banging and air guitar sessions.
Of course, the ultimate gift will be that the quintessential rockers will be heading down to Singapore for a gig on February 20, 2012 at Fort Canning Park.
Singapore will be the only South-east Asia stop on the EPITAPH Farewell World Tour, and this will be the band’s first ever concert here.
But it’s a tour that has not been without controversy and confusion, first of all when it was announced as a “farewell” tour, when it isn’t, and when founding member and guitarist Ken “K.K.” Downing announced he was quitting the band.
“No it's only the beginning of the end. What we have said is that's it's our last major tour of the planet. I'm sure we have at least one more album in us and if we were offered a string of dates that made sense or was for a good cause we would possibly consider doing more shows,” explains Priest’s guitarist Glenn Tipton in an interview with inSing.
The current line-up is bassist Ian Hill, singer Rob Halford, Tipton, drummer Scott Travis and new kid on the block Richie Faulkner, drafted in to replace Downing.
“K.K., Rob and I have written some great songs throughout the years, and we have also both worked hard at applying the twin lead guitar techniques that are such a trade mark of the band so we were very shocked when K.K decided to last year,” says Tipton.
“Thankfully, Ritchie (Faulkner) came along and amazed us. Not just as a great guitar player but by the way he blended straight into the band capturing the essence of everything he needed to do but also putting his own stamp on it. He has so much enthusiasm that you can't help getting infected by it,” Tipton adds.
Founded in Birmingham, England, Judas Priest released their first single, “Rocka Rolla”, in 1974, and they went on to score a slew of worldwide hits. Their 1980 album, “British Steel”, is considered one of the all-time great heavy metal albums. Halford’s distinctive soaring vocals and the band’s trademark twin lead guitar style also earned them the nickname “Metal Gods” from their song of the same name.
Although he turned 64 last October, Tipton is quick to dismiss that age is catching up on the band (with the exception of Faulker, everyone else’s above 50) or if they’re slowing down: “I never thought at my age I'd still be on stage pounding out Heavy Metal. It’s great to see so many young kids at the shows and if along the way we have inspired so many people then it's something we are all very proud of.”
If anything else, he hinted at a new Priest album in the works: “Rob and I did some writing in last January /February and the songs are what we believe everyone would want from Priest. We have also written a couple of anthems which lyrically say thank you to all our fans that have been so loyal throughout the years, and with Richie now joining Priest, we intend to sit down and do more writing. Trouble is, with such a heavy touring schedule at the moment, it's going to be difficult to find the time so it won't be till this year.”
A career that has spanned 40 years, must have had many highlights, so what sticks in the mind of Glenn Tipton?
“It's difficult to say as we have done so much throughout the years but if I had to pick one moment it would be when we played 'Live Aid' and everyone was on the stage at the end singing together,” he recalls.
So what can fans expect come February 20?
“We have never played Singapore before and are excited about coming there to play a Priest concert. We are performing a long set full of our classic songs that I'm sure our fans over there will love. Expect a night of Judas Priest style Heavy Metal… we can't wait.”