In a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford spoke about his expectations for the band's first pandemic-era tour, the rescheduled "50 Heavy Metal Years" North American trek, which will kick off on September 8 in Reading, Pennsylvania and conclude on November 5 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
"Here's the thing: We've got to get out there and do it, man," he said. "If we don't, we're going to be sitting home for the rest of this year, next year, the year after that and the year after that. This stuff isn't going to go away. We've got to find a way of getting through it. You talk about herd immunity, you talk about all of these different things, you can only do as much as you can do. You've got your bubble, you've got your masks, you've got the sanitizer. And even that can't kill this evil demon of a virus. It hits you when your friends, like Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley], get it. And Sebastian Bach and Bruce Dickinson, and all of my other friends.
"Thankfully, they haven't been devastated by the horrible thing like so many people have," he continued. "But we've got to do it. I think if the scientists had said, 'Look, everybody hang on, if we give it another year or two, we think we've got the vaccine that's going to kick its ass,' but they haven't, have they? They've just said that there's a booster shot coming. I'll be first in line for that. And then it's like a lottery, because, again, I was talking to some friends the other day with certain bands that I won't name. But they've been out for a while and everybody's fine. Crew is fine, the band is fine. They're doing the bubble thing, they're doing the protocol thing. It's like a lottery, this virus is, the way it can suddenly come out of nowhere. I know that Gene and Paul, their whole KISS [organization] was doing as best as they could. And yet it creeped in. It's a horrible, horrible thing.
"So, we have to battle on. We really have to battle on. I think that's all we can do. And if ever we needed music, if ever we needed to be with each other, now is the time that we need to do that. And talking about the fans, we have our protocols in place for the fans, as well, with [concert promoter] Live Nation, who are making the bulk of this tour. We have a great relationship with Live Nation, and we're working together to make sure that we can make it about as safe as we possibly can. Because at the end of the day, you've got something or you've got nothing and nobody wants nothing, right? So let's just do our best and keep our fingers crossed, and please, God, don't let any of us be hit by this horrible thing."
JUDAS PRIEST played its first concert in more than two years on August 15 at the Bloodstock Open Air festival, which took place at Catton Park, Walton-on-Trent, United Kingdom. The British heavy metal legends, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary, were rejoined by guitarist Glenn Tipton for three songs. The band also pulled out a number of surprises in its set, including first-ever performances of "One Shot At Glory" and "Invader", as well as several tracks that hadn't been played in a long time, such as "Rocka Rolla (performed for the first time since 1976), "Exciter" (first time since 2005), "Hell Patrol" (first time since 2009), "A Touch Of Evil" (first time since 2005), "Dissident Aggressor" (first time since 2009) and "Blood Red Skies" (first time since 2012).
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's seven years ago — after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — but announced in early 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of JUDAS PRIEST's latest studio album, "Firepower". He was replaced by "Firepower" album producer Andy Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.
As he has done a number of other times over the course of the last three and a half years, Tipton joined PRIEST onstage on Bloodstock for the encore, performing "Metal Gods", "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight".
In early April, JUDAS PRIEST's European tour, which was scheduled to kick off in late May, was once again postponed due to "ongoing COVID-19 vaccine issues." The trek will now run from May 27, 2022 in Moscow, Russia until July 31, 2022 in Oberhausen, Germany.