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Once again, Judas Priest takes ‘Steel’ to the stage

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / July 5, 2009
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Ian Hill, founding bassist for British heavy metal legends Judas Priest, says he would have “laughed his head off’’ if someone told him at 17 that he’d still be hell bent for leather in his late 50s. But his last laugh is a happy one as Hill and his bandmates hit the Comcast Center this Tuesday.

The centerpiece of the show will feature Priest playing its pivotal 1980 album, “British Steel,’’ which spawned the hits “Breaking the Law’’ and “Living After Midnight,’’ from stem to stern. The group’s next outing will be in support of its Grammy-nominated 2008 concept album, “Nostradamus,’’ which it also will play in full.

While the band works out plans for that future tour - full orchestra performances with theatrical components are being considered - Hill says Judas Priest is having a blast rocking down memory lane.

Q. Is it true that you’ve resurrected some of your old stage clothes?

A. Not the old old clothes, they went to the big stage set in the sky a long time ago. But yeah, we’ve tried to replicate all the old stuff we were wearing with varying results. (Laughs)

Q. Who’s idea was it to do “British Steel’’ now?

A. I’m not sure who came up with the original idea, somebody pointed out that it was the 30-year anniversary. [It’s] a landmark album for us really. It was the first album that we were able to do a headline tour of the USA.

Q. In retrospect it’s remarkable that it was your sixth record. A band getting to six records before having a major breakthrough would be unheard of today.

A. It’s a sign of the times I’m afraid, everybody wants instant success. Up and coming bands ask me, “What’s your trick for getting on?’’ and it really is just stamina and keeping at it.

Q. Revisiting the album, is there a song you’re really enjoying playing?

A. I think the song that sticks out is “The Rage.’’ I don’t know why we never did it live. It’s a great song, a real power ballad.

Q. What’s the biggest difference between touring for “British Steel’’ in 1980 vs. 2009?

A. I probably ache a bit more now after the show. The good bit is it’s been so long ago you can’t remember what it was like back then anyway so you’ve got no basis for comparison.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com.

JUDAS PRIEST With Whitesnake at the Comcast Center on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $20-$45 at 877-598-8689 or www.livenation.com

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