JUDAS PRIEST reverses decision to tour as quartet: 'we will continue our live shows unchanged' as five-piece
British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST have reversed their recent decision to perform as a four-piece on their upcoming tour.
Last Monday (January 10), JUDAS PRIEST announced that it would perform as a quartet when it returns to the road in early March. A few hours later, the band’s touring guitarist Andy Sneap, who co-produced the group’s 2018 album “Firepower”, released a statement to BLABBERMOUTH.NET in which he said that he was “incredibly disappointed” by PRIEST‘s decision to carry on as a four-piece and thanked the Rob Halford-fronted outfit for the “mind-blowing” opportunity to share the stage with one of his favorite bands. Meanwhile, PRIEST fans were understandably upset about the band’s decision to forgo its classic twin-guitar attack sound and made their feelings known on social media. Some even called for the return of guitarist K.K. Downing, who joined PRIEST in 1970 and remained in the group until 2011.
Earlier today (Saturday, January 15), JUDAS PRIEST released the following statement to BLABBERMOUTH.NET: “Hello metal maniacs…given all that has recently evolved and transpired we have decided unanimously as a band to continue our live shows unchanged with Rob, Ian (Hill, bass), Richie (Faulkner, guitar), Scott (Travis, drums), Andy (Sneap, guitar) and Glenn (Tipton, guitar) joining us whenever he’s able…so see you all soon as we forge ahead celebrating 50 massive heavy metal years of JUDAS PRIEST together!”
Sneap, who is also known for his work in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT, began touring with PRIEST four years ago after longtime guitarist Tipton — who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease eight years ago after being stricken by the condition at least half a decade earlier — announced in early 2018 he was going to sit out touring activities in support of “Firepower”.
Hill is the sole remaining original member of PRIEST, which formed in 1969. Halford joined the group in 1973 and Tipton signed on in 1974. Rob left PRIEST in the early 1990s to form his own band, then came back to PRIEST in 2003. Downing parted ways with the band more than a decade ago and was replaced by Faulkner.
Two and a half years ago, Sneap said that he would continue to play guitar for JUDAS PRIEST “as long as they want me to.” During an appearance on the “Talking Bollocks” podcast, Sneap stated: “It’d be great if Glenn was up there doing it. That’s the thing that really… it’s always in the back of my mind; it really is. But it’s just nice that he asked me to do it. As long as they want me to help out, I’ll help ’em out. That’s kind of the way I’m looking at it, really.”
Last June, Halford told Metal Pilgrim that Sneap would likely continue being the second guitarist for PRIEST in a live situation. “Andy is still standing in that spot for Glenn with Glenn‘s blessing,” he said. “It’s pretty much a given that Andy will be going out on tour with us again. And my gratitude to Andy. It couldn’t have happened in a better way, if you wanna try and make something good out of it. It was a really important day when Glenn said, ‘I think it’s probably best if I step to the side and maybe we should let Andy come in.’ That was just a really beautiful act of selflessness. That’s Glenn treasuring PRIEST and PRIEST‘s reputation, particularly in live concert more than anything else. So bless Glenn for that. And as a result, Andy stepped in and did amazing work on the ‘Firepower’ tour, and we’re looking forward to doing the same thing with him on this 50th-anniversary tour. And don’t discount the fact that Glenn can show up. He plays the guitar differently, but there’s no reason why Glenn can’t show up and do some work. I mean, I’ve said to Glenn, ‘Just walk out on stage and do that to everybody (flashes devil horns), and the people will just go fucking crazy, ’cause you are loved so much.’ But I’ve got a feeling that Glenn‘s gonna be making the occasional appearance on this 50th-anniversary tour.”
In 2019, Hill said that it was up to Sneap to decide if he wanted to carry on playing guitar for JUDAS PRIEST after the completion of the “Firepower” tour. “It is something to be discussed, really,” he told “Talking Metal”. “I mean, Andy is now, these days, first and foremost a producer. Whether he wants to go back and do that full time or not, it’ll be a mutual decision when the time comes. Andy will be more than welcome to stay. He’s done a tremendous job over the last year or so, really. He’s done a great job stepping in for Glenn. It would have been very difficult if he hadn’t been there, on such short notice, because we didn’t realize that Glenn couldn’t handle the intensity of touring anymore until… We were only about three weeks away from starting the tour (laughs), and Andy stepped in and did a great job. He pulled a real rabbit out of the hat in learning a complete setlist of songs in such a short period of time. He pulled it off anyway. And as time’s gone on, obviously, his stage presence, he got more comfortable with that, and he’s performing great now. So when the time comes… We’ll give it to the end of this run and then see what everybody wants to do. As I say, he’ll be more than welcome to carry on with us if that’s his plan.”
Last November, JUDAS PRIEST announced the rescheduled “50 Heavy Metal Years” North American tour dates for March-April 2022. Support on the trek will come from QUEENSRŸCHE.