At The Head Of Styeam, Newcastle, U.K., January 26, 2019

SARACEN (Live at The Head Of Styeam, Newcastle, U.K., January 26, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It may have taken a while but Derbyshire Pomp Rockers Saracen finally made their first headlining appearance in Newcastle almost four decades after the release of their cult classic, Heroes Saints and Fools album.

The small but perfectly formed Head Of Steam was suitably rammed by a loyal and enthusiastic crowd who burst into animated life as We Have Arrived kicked off the show, rather an appropriate opening statement.

It wasn’t long before their fabled classic debut album was mined for goodies with the punchy Rock Of Ages showing the tighter, harder edge of the band whereas Horseman of The Apocalypse was Saracen at their most majestic as Paul Bradder added layer upon layer of keyboards to dramatic effect.

Vocalist Steve Bettney, the only surviving member from those early days, has retained the rich, powerful voice that made Saracen standout from the pack back then and impressed on the likes of Red Sky and Whither The Wind Blows.

The keyboard driven Follow The Piper upped the tempo and sensing the crowd was deserving of something special, Saracen pulled out the gorgeous Face In The Crowd from their Change Of Heart album for a first ever live outing.

Of course, it was the title track to their illustrious debut that everyone was waiting for and 40 years on it still sounded every inch the Pomp Rock classic it is. It was dramatic, overblown and totally magnificent with one fan seemingly so overwhelmed that they fell face down on the stage, or maybe that was just the beer.

The up-tempo Ready To Fly brought the show to an end with Bettney showing off his still impressive range and much to everyone’s amusement, when he handed his microphone into the crowd to join him, a fan hit a sweet, perfectly pitched note a la Mark Wahlberg in the Rockstar movie, drawing a round of applause from Bettney and a load of backslaps from the surrounding fans. A fun ending to a great evening.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • 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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