SAXON (Live)

At The Carling Academy, Newcastle, U.K., May 1, 2009

Anyone seeing the recent TV show Get Your Act Together featuring Harvey Goldsmith giving Saxon a “career makeover” would think Saxon were a bunch of washed up has-beens struggling to attract a crowd into nothing bigger than a pub.

Those in the know however, realize that nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is the Carling Academy packed with an audience well up for an evening of classic Metal but Saxon’s recording output is going through something of a renaissance. With recent albums Lionheart and Inner Sanctum garnering widespread acclaim, the recently released Into The Labyrinth consolidated Saxon’s position as elder statesmen of the NWOBHM.

saxonRecent triumphant appearances at Download and with the likes of Metallica paying homage to Barnsley’s finest, Saxon’s star could hardly be brighter at the moment. Seeing Saxon in their natural environment on the stage it’s easy to see why their appeal has endured the passing of time.

Starting confidently with “Battalions of Steel” from their new album before “Heavy Metal Thunder” steps back into their illustrious back catalogue, Saxon are literally on fire from the off.

saxonOver their 30 year career Saxon have created an enjoyable collection of Metal classics and at the Academy they produced a well paced set of old and new. Think of all the classics you want to hear at a Saxon gig and they pull them out of the hat. Whether it’s the thumping riff of “Wheels of Steel”, the dramatic “Dallas 1PM”, the Donnington inspired “And The Bands Played On””, the anthemic “Denim and Leather” or the simply fantastic “747(Strangers in the Night)” they deliver them all with energy and enthusiasm throughout the set. A welcome return to the set was the commercial edge of “Run Like The Wind” which had the smooth, fluffy edges sheared off to reveal more of a hard edged Metal diamond.

It’s not all nostalgia either. Saxon are on a fine run of form at the moment and they air plenty of songs from Into The Labyrinth with the brooding, majestic epic “Valley of the Kings” and the catchy “Live To Rock” standing proudly alongside their more established material.

saxonStar of the show without a doubt is Biff Byford. Often overlooked in favour of the Dio’s, Gillan’s and Coverdale’s of this world, he is in possession of a pretty damn decent set of pipes which have lasted better than most of his NWOBHM compatriots. The power, the range and the melody haven’t withered with age and his confident stagecraft had the crowd eating out of his hands.

While Byford might be the focal point of the group, Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt trade solos and riffs like there’s no tomorrow while long-time drummer Nigel Glockler and bassist Nibs Carter hold it all together in the rhythm section.

saxonWith a ridiculously early finishing time for the Friday night disco, Saxon finished with a flurry of classics with “Crusader” and “Motorcycle Man” ramming home their riffs before the poignant “Princess of the Night” brought the evening to an end.

As Saxon left the stage after a total of SIX encores with the fans chanting “Saxon, Saxon” evoking scenes of an all conquering football team, they consolidated their position as one of Britain’s finest Metal acts and remain one of the most entertaining bands on the live circuit today.



  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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