Judas Priest To Launch Newest Tour In Wilkes-Barre Twp.

March 7, 2018 GMT

It’s been a long time since Judas Priest slept in a van outside of a London recording studio.

Vocalist Rob Halford explained that in the “vampire days of recording,” overnight rates in studios were cheaper to rent. So for the band’s first studio album, “Rocka Rolla,” they found themselves sleeping in the van during the day and recording overnight.

“I remember when we had our first record contract, we were tremendously excited and very ambitious,” Halford said. “We thought big time, big money — wrong. In the early days, it’s a slug. It’s really, you’ve got to pay your dues. Nothing comes fast and easy in life, as I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older, but you do whatever it takes to get through that journey.”

The heavy metal group now has enjoyed nearly 50 years of success and will release its 18th studio album, “Firepower,” on Friday, March 9.

The Firepower 2018 tour kicks off Tuesday, March 13, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp., with opening acts Saxon and Black Star Riders.

“It’s the excitement and the anticipation; it’s all wrapped up into (the first night),” Halford said. “We’ve been building this tour for many months — the stages, the costumes, the lights and the special effects and everything.

“The launch of any project or any tour has to start at a specific spot. In this case, Wilkes-Barre is holding the torch for heavy metal as we take off.”

Judas Priest originally formed in the 1970s in Birmingham, England, and created some of heavy metal’s most notable records, including “British Steel” and “Screaming for Vengeance.”

Although fans can expect to hear the beloved Judas Priest sound at the

Wilkes-Barre Twp. show, Halford emphasized that each of the band’s albums is created with the intention of writing something new and different.

“We treat them completely separately, as the belief is all our records from ‘Rocka Rolla’ up to ‘Firepower’ — they all have their own metal legs to stand on in terms of identity and sound,” he said.

In February, the band announced that longtime lead guitarist Glenn Tipton would sit out this tour after being diagnosed with late-stage Parkinson’s disease. “Firepower” producer Andy Sneap plays in his stead.

“You’ll be seeing Priest as you want,” Halford said. “There will be a slight adjustment ... but (Tipton) wants it to be a very successful ‘Firepower’ tour.

“I think a lot of people are going to be drawn to the show for the simple fact that they love Priest and they want to hear the songs again and again,” Halford added.

Though it’s been almost five decades since the beginning of Judas Priest, Halford doesn’t see an end in sight.

“You can’t really turn it off,” he said. “If you’re lucky enough to be a creative person that is still hungry and curious and has a sense of adventure ... that’s the driving force in me, and that’s the same in Glenn and Scott and Richie and Ian. It’s something you can’t really switch off.”

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If you go

What: Judas Priest

When: Tuesday, March 13, 7 p.m.

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, 255 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre Twp.

Details: Tickets start at $36.75, plus fees, and can be purchased at the arena’s box office, by calling 800-745-3000 and online at ticketmaster.com. There is a $10 fee to park in the arena’s lot. For more information, visit