Judas Priest Firepower Tour South AfricaJudas Priest fans were more than ready to welcome the ‘Metal Gods’ to South Africa – but sadly the tour has been postponed – see ticket refund info below. JANE MAYNE spoke to bassist IAN HILL about their Firepower Tour SA that would have been.

Judas Priest certainly has staying power. The band’s pioneering metal has helped shape the rock scene since their debut years from 1969, and Priest went on to rack up an impressive catalogue of albums, which include Sin After Sin (1977), British Steel (1980) and Screaming for Vengeance (1982).

Ian Hill gave a heads-up about the tour prior to cancellation:

What excerpts will audiences Cape Town and Pretoria be treated to? “It’ll be some of the old songs. I think the set is about 90 minutes, so we’ll be playing a mix of old and new, and probably three songs from the new album,” confirms the legendary bassist.

Pinning down the bass on a heavy metal stage is no small task, and Ian Hill delivers playing a Spector bass (using .045 – .105 gauge strings) through SWR SM-1500 heads and SWR Triad 3-way cabs. While most flash guitarists tend to swoon on the frontline, it’s the bassists holding down the backbone that keep it all in the pocket.

Ripping twin guitar

Who does he regard as the most impressive rock bassist out there? “There are several of them. Jack Bruce who played with Cream – he was my greatest inspiration. Then there’s more – like Jaco Pastorius.” And what is he listening to these days: “I don’t know, by choice I still listen to the old stuff, from the 60’s, like Cream and Hendrix – all the old albums.”

Ripping twin guitar playing was a great addition to the rock bandstand, but that interplay seems to be somewhat underutilized these days. “Yes, it became popular, almost like a fad, but while it may not be at the pinnacle of popularity at the moment it will always be there.”

Judas Priest album titles like Jugulator (1977), which houses Burn in Hell and Decapitate, may lean too close to the demonic for some, but the bassist says their imagery is, “basically for fun. We do it because we love the music. We have no real political message and try and steer clear of that. We keep to ourselves,” he adds.

Ozzy Osbourne double bill

The band’s Firepower Tour runs from March to June 2019, then there’s the rescheduled UK and European dates with Ozzy Osbourne for September/October 2019. The double bill was sadly postponed due to Ozzy’s ill health. Says a disappointed Ozzy: “I’m completely devastated for having to postpone the European leg of my tour. It just seems that since October everything I touch has turned to shit. First the staph infection in my thumb, and now coming down with the flu and bronchitis. I want to apologise to all of my fans who have been so loyal over the years, my band, my crew and to Judas Priest for letting you all down. However I promise the tour with Judas Priest will be completed. Again, I apologise to everyone. God Bless. Love you all, Ozzy.”

As one in a sea of international rock bands, what has made Priest such a standout act? “I think it’s us trying to improve all the time on every album and make each one a bit different. That’s a large part of what has kept us current and up to date. A lot of bands have a formula, but we’ve never done that,” says Ian Hill.

Crazy tech riders

Touring bands technical riders often include some mad or outrageous requests (Madonna reportedly demanded brand new lav seats, Lady Gaga supposedly desired a mannequin with puffy pink pubic hair in her dressing room, and the aging Rolling Stones requested  written instructions on how to use the electronics in their hotel rooms…). Any fun requests for the Judas Priest South Africa tour? “No not really, we’re pretty boring – obviously just a fridge full of beer, bottles of red and white wine and spirits.”

Anything tantalising we can look forward to in the pipeline for Judas Priest? “Well we’ll finish this tour off, which will take us up to the end of September. We are playing a couple of festivals in Australia and New Zealand with a whole lot of bands. Then Ozzy is rescheduled for September/October. But we’re all looking forward to South Africa because we’ve never been – I don’t know why. Next year we’ll start our 50 year celebrations which will probably take us around the world again.”

More Judas Priest SA info: https://weekendspecial.co.za/judas-priest-south-africa-2019-tickets/

What: Judas Priest interview Ian Hill
Gig: Judas Priest South Africa Tour 2019 – CANCELLED
Judas Priest Tour 2019: judaspriest.com
Judas Priest Cape Town tickets CANCELLED: Wednesday, 20 March 2019, Grand West, from R575
Judas Priest Pretoria CANCELLED: Friday 22 March 2019, Ticketpro Dome, from R520
Ticket refunds:  All ticket purchases made via Computickets website and call centre will automatically be refunded at full to the credit card used for the purchase. All patrons that have bought their tickets in-store would need to go to their nearest Computicket, Shoprite or Checkers outlet to process their full cancellation. The cut-off date for all refunds is 29 March 2019.
Judas Priest tickets SA: www.bigconcerts.co.za