Photo & Story by Scott A. Smith
Vowing to never fade away — or turn the volume on their amp stacks lower than the “10” setting — Judas Priest are back on the road with a new set list and their bold, all-or-nothing attitude.
The heavy metal icons — singer Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis — will bring part of their Redeemer of Souls Tour to fans at 8 p.m. Nov. 6 to the Allen Event Center, 200 E. Stacy Road, No. 1350 in Allen, Texas, near Dallas. Judas Priest played the venue with openers Thin Lizzy and Black Label Society back in the fall of 2011, but the upcoming gig, which will feature opening band Steel Panther, will be even more magical and important, said Faulkner.
“We’re looking forward to coming back to that area, and we’ll have all of the trademark aspects — the lasers, the Harley-Davidson, the leather and studs and everything,” he said during an Oct. 28 telephone interview. “But this time, we’ll have the new songs (from the recently released ‘Redeemer of Souls’ CD) in the set and new production. There’s these great video screens that people will love, and of course, the great music.”
Part of the show will commemorate the 30th anniversary of Judas Priest’s “Defenders of the Faith” album, the popular follow-up to 1982’s acclaimed “Screaming for Vengeance” LP, Faulkner said. Songs from “Defenders of the Faith” will make the final set list at the Allen Event Center, which will thrill fans and the band themselves, he said.
“I’d say in addition to ‘Redeemer of Souls,’ ‘Defenders of the Faith’ is my favorite Judas Priest record,” Faulkner said. “The songs represented an important time in Judas Priest’s life. You had the great attitude and sound on that record and, of course, there was the great album-cover art.
“I do love the Priest albums ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ ‘Painkiller’ and ‘Sad Wings of Destiny’ like most fans, but for me, ‘Defenders of the Faith’ really takes me to a special place,” he added. “It’s one of those things that has the ability to take you to that magical land — that magical place — and you don’t forget that.”
Replacing original guitarist K.K. Downing back in 2011, Faulkner has been credited by his band mates for infusing enthusiasm in Judas Priest, both on the stage and inside the recording studio. The group’s 2011 tour originally was billed as a farewell-type tour titled “Epitaph,” but it was the audience’s positive response each night of that jaunt that inspired Judas Priest to postpone the filing of their retirement papers.
“Playing to 10,000 people and 12,000 people each night is an incredible thing,” said Faulkner, a lifelong fan of Jimi Hendrix. “We love playing for the fans, and we know that they will really love what we’re doing on this new tour.”
When asked if he was nervous when he first joined Judas Priest, Faulkner immediately offered a reply.
“I knew what it was going to be like, stepping into (Downing’s) shoes,” he said. “In a situation like that, you have to be respectful of him and what all the band has done before. But as a musician, you also have to be respectful of yourself. It’s great being in this band — writing with Rob and Glenn and sharing ideas in an open-minded situation — and I want to put my own spin on things.”
Despite the ongoing presence of non-favorable comments from some critics, Judas Priest continue to survive, filling arenas during an era that’s crowded with other big-scale tours.
“Heavy metal has always kind of been considered the ugly baby of music, but we’re not going anywhere,” Faulkner said. “We’re here, we’re growing and we hope that others will take our attitude — stand up for what you believe in and do things your way — now and in the future. Judas Priest is still growing, yes. We’re not going anywhere.”