Saxon, as Biff reminded us during tonight’s show, are rapidly approaching their 40th anniversary. With this in mind the band would be forgiven if they decided to slow down a bit and started taking things a bit easier. However, on tonight’s showing that would appear to be furthest from their minds and there is plenty of life in the old dogs yet.
The fact that the show was sold out and the Barrowlands rammed to the rafters tells me there are plenty of old rockers who are more than happy to share the band’s enthusiasm. The line up was a great value for money package and opening the show we had Wayward Sons. Although the band hit the stage at 7pm there was already a large crowd in the hall, no doubt keen to see what Toby Jepson and his cohorts could do live. The answer was a lot!
The guys kicked off with ‘Alive’ and threw everything into the performance. Toby was in good voice and looked invigorated on stage. ‘Ghost’ was up next and featured some excellent guitar work from Sam Wood. Sam was back onstage in Glasgow for the second time in a week after playing along with Gill Montgomery of the Amorettes supporting Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson a few days before, he gets around..
The set was culled from the band’s album ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ and the guys played like their lives depended on it. Toby is a seasoned frontman but he kept his chat to a minimum and kept the music rolling. ‘Small Talk’ and ‘Until The End’ rounded off a great set which went down a storm with the crowd. The sound was a bit muddy throughout the set but that didn’t detract from the music or the performance.
Next up we should have had Y&T who had to pull out due to main man Dave Meniketti having an on going back injury. Instead we had FM who stepped in at the eleventh hour to fill the slot. I must admit I was sceptical that FM’s polished melodic rock would fit well in between Wayward Sons and Saxon but the band proved me wrong.
The guys started off with ‘Black Magic’ and thankfully the muddy sound that had afflicted Wayward Sons had given way to a crystal clear PA system. FM have been in this game long enough to be able to gauge their audience and build a set accordingly and tonight they kept the pace high and the guitars loud.
The set was driven along by the excellent guitar work of Jim Kirkpatrick who was set to maximum attack. Merv Goldsworth and Pete Jupp kept things rock solid in the rhythm department whilst the vocals of Steve Overland were as silky smooth as ever.
Overland introduced the song ‘That Girl’ by thanking Iron Maiden for covering it as it did the band’s bank balance a world of good. The song itself was one of the set highlights and was followed by ‘Life Is A Highway’ and ‘Crosstown Train’. Any doubts I had about the band’s reception were proved wrong as the set went down a storm with the now capacity crowd.
The guys rounded off their set with a newer song ‘Killed By Love’ and took their bows to loud cheers from an appreciative crowd. FM filled the Y&T shaped hole with ease and proved that they can rock hard and heavy when required!
Rocking hard and heavy has been Saxon’s bread and butter for their entire career and they do it with style. Their latest album ‘Thunderbolt’ is a giant slab of unashamed heavy metal which proved that Saxon have lost none of their passion and are still a force to be reckoned with.
It was the title track that opened the set with a barrage of double bass drumming from Nigel Glockler. Biff Byford took centre stage, his voice as strong as ever, and led the crowd from the front while Nibbs Carter did his best Tasmanian Devil impression on bass. ‘Sacrifice’ and ‘Nosferatu’ followed before we headed back to 1980 with ‘Motorcycle Man’ complete with Biff’s ear splitting whistling.
The set was a mix of the old and the new but all were greeted with the same massive roar from the crowd. The pumping bassline intro of ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ had the crowd clapping and singing along before Glockler upped the pace again with ‘Battering Ram’ closely followed by ‘The Power And The Glory’.
Biff gained a few brownie points with the crowd by mentioning the good old days when they played the Glasgow Apollo, always a sure fire winner. He also said that next year there were some special shows planned to celebrate the bands 40th anniversary which also raised a cheer.
The Saxon classics continued with ‘Dallas 1pm’ and ‘The Bands Played On’ which had the Barras bouncing. We were then given the choice of ‘20,000 feet’ or ‘Never Surrender’ after Biff had torn up and eaten his setlist! ‘Never Surrender’ got the nod and we were rocking once again.
The pace was slowed down a few notches for ‘Sons Of Odin’ which then ran into ‘Crusader’ with the ‘warlords of Scotland’ singing along. The highlight of any Saxon show for me is the song ‘Princess Of The Night’ and tonight was no different, it was also the track which brought the main set to an end.
The guys returned to the stage and played no less than four encores including the epic ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ which had heads banging furiously around the hall. Things were brought to a close with two mass singalongs that no Saxon show would complete without, namely ‘ Wheels Of Steel’ and ‘Denim And Leather’ which left the capacity crowd smiling from ear to ear.
This was a fantastic show which proved to be value for money and then some. It also proved that the demand for classic rock and metal is as strong as ever and that, going into their 40th year, Saxon are still more than capable of bringing the heavy metal thunder to any stage!
Review and photos by Dave Wilson
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.
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