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Richie Faulkner returns to the stage as Judas Priest kick off rescheduled 50 Heavy Metal Years tour dates

Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest
(Image credit: Eric Somer / YouTube)

Judas Priest have kicked off a series of rescheduled dates on the North American leg of their 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour, marking the return of guitarist Richie Faulkner, who suffered an aortic aneurysm onstage with the band back in September. The tour was postponed following the incident.

Taking to the stage on Friday night (March 4) at the Peoria Civic Center in Illinois, Faulkner appeared to be back firing on all cylinders, helping the band rattle through a discography-spanning selection of their greatest hits, including You've Got Another Thing Comin', Turbo Lover and Painkiller, before concluding with fan favorite, Living After Midnight. Check out footage below.

Judas Priest's touring lineup currently consists of frontman Rob Halford, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis, while Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap make up the band's guitar tandem.

Back in January, the band announced their intention to resume the 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour as a four-piece. This meant the departure of Andy Sneap, who produced the band's 2018 effort, Firepower, and had assumed live duties since. At the time, Sneap said he was “incredibly disappointed”, but respected the band's decision.

However following fan backlash, Priest reversed the decision, announcing that Sneap would indeed join them for the remainder of the tour. They also confirmed that longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton – who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2018 – would join them “whenever he's able”.

Richie Faulkner has made a remarkable recovery since suffering an aortic aneurysm onstage at Louder Than Life in September. Just 10 weeks after the incident, he was shredding on Instagram Live, and back in December, he revealed he was back in the studio recording a guest solo for Demon Hunter's forthcoming album.

Faulkner joined Judas Priest in 2011, replacing longtime guitarist K.K. Downing. To date, he has appeared on two of the band's albums: Redeemer of Souls (2014) and Firepower (2018).

K.K. Downing's relationship with Judas Priest has soured in recent years. In 2018, he released a memoir titled Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest, which delved into the reasons behind his departure. He noted his relationship with Glenn Tipton as a major contributing factor.

“I never found Glenn to be particularly easy to get along with,” Downing wrote (per The Guardian (opens in new tab)). “Very early on, I was fully aware of the limited conditions under which he operated. If you were going to relate to him, you would do so entirely on his terms.”

And in the new issue of Guitar World, Tipton fires back, stating why he feels much of what's been said by Downing is untrue and unfair.

“He's insinuated that he was the driving force of the band,” he says. “It just isn't true. Priest [is] made up of five guys working together. [There's] not just one person driving the band. He's said all these things that, I think, are meant to upset us and get us to say something in response and for a long time we didn't. But I've got a lot to say and enough's enough.”

The North American leg of Judas Priest's 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour will make stops in LA, San Antonio, Philadelphia and more, before wrapping up April 13 in Hamilton, Canada.

The band is then scheduled to head to Russia to begin the European leg of the tour in May, though the status of their Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Kyiv shows remains up in the air following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

See below for the band's full setlist from the Peoria Civic Center on March 4.

  1. One Shot At Glory
  2. Lightning Strike
  3. You've Got Another Thing Comin'
  4. Freewheel Burning
  5. Turbo Lover
  6. Hell Patrol
  7. The Sentinel
  8. A Touch Of Evil
  9. Rocka Rolla
  10. Victim Of Changes
  11. Desert Plains
  12. Blood Red Skies
  13. Invader
  14. Painkiller

Encore:

  1. The Hellion / Electric Eye
  2. Hell Bent For Leather
  3. Breaking The Law
  4. Living After Midnight

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).