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Metal god and leather priest Rob Halford returns to San Francisco

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MUSIC Blessed with the pipes and vocal chords of an angelic opera singer but willing and able to deliver the type of piercing wail that would shock a banshee, Rob Halford has long been considered one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time. Rightfully dubbed "the Metal God" by fans, he has been making his mark in music for nearly 40 years, from his iconic role as front man for the legendary Judas Priest, through his tenure with Fight in the 1990s, and some excellent solo ventures during the last decade.

Halford is embarking on a summer tour with his own eponymous band. It kicks off in a San Francisco club before joining the mammoth OzzFest, so local fans are in for a rare, intimate treat. "I think San Francisco is still a very important part of America as far as the music scene. And it's a place that has a lot of great memories for me personally," says Halford, speaking on the phone from his home in San Diego.

"I remember one of my first ever visits to the Bay Area, in the late '70s, when [Judas] Priest came over to the States. The big climax of that was a surprise performance with Led Zeppelin. And then some years ago, the guys from Pansy Division took me around to some cool places they thought would be of some interest to me besides Fisherman's Wharf," he adds, laughing.

The set list for the tour promises to touch on all facets of Halford's career, not just Judas Priest. "That isn't what this is about for me. It's about playing the Halford material and the Fight records," he explains. "The music from them is still quite potent and show off what the Halford band is able to achieve, more than anything else."

Soft-spoken and humble, Halford is still happy to discuss his old band's accomplishments, including Judas Priest's classic album British Steel, which received a deluxe 30th anniversary rerelease earlier this year. "Music is like a time machine in some aspects" Halford muses. "[The rerelease] just reinforces that a great song is able to last forever. If a song you wrote in 1980 can still touch people in 2010, then I think you're doing your work well."

Next month Halford's own Metal God record label is releasing the concert DVD and CD Halford: Live In Anaheim, and he hopes to enter the studio later this year to record a new album with his current band before Judas Priest roars back into action in 2011. Obviously, the 58-year old rocker shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, he says that he loves to keep busy and wouldn't have it any other way.

"The great thing about music is that there's no gold watch waiting in the wings," he says. "You keep doing it for as long as you want, and I'm always grateful because I wouldn't be able to set foot out of the house without knowing this tremendous and resilient fan base is going to be waiting." 

ROB HALFORD

Sat/17, 9 p.m., $37–$40

Regency Ballroom

1290 Sutter, SF

(800) 745-3000

www.theregencyballroom.com