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London, Koko
20th December 2011

Tina Saul, pictures by Judith Fisher

tina saul

It's the Tuesday before Christmas and my last gig of 2011. What a great way to finish up a fine year for live music than a trip to Koko in London, to see the mighty Saxon.

tina saul

The party spirit was underway by the time I got there and the crowd had been nicely oiled by Hammerfall, who opened up tonight's proceedings, plus a variety of refreshments of the liquid variety by the looks of things. Motley Crue's 'Dr Feelgood' was playing in the background and everyone looked quite content to have a little bit of glam to get the festivities underway.

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It was great to see such a diverse range of people in the audience, ranging from the older die-hard fans, right through to teenagers, who probably have their Dad's vinyl collection to thank for being here.

The promise for tonight was the whole of 'Denim And Leather', so there were a few disappointed faces when they opened with 'Hammer Of The Gods' from their 2011 album 'Call To Arms'. But we had nearly two hours of Saxon to look forward to, so knew it would come later in the show.

tina saul

The set continued with a range of tracks spanning their nineteen studio albums. Biff's energy on stage is incredible, bobbing up and down like a teenager, rather than a man in his 60s; shame the same can't be said for the crowd! Even 'Motorcycle Man' doesn't wake them up.

However as soon as the opening of 'And The Bands Played On' was heard, this changed everything and it almost felt like people had been pacing themselves for the last part of the show. This was more like it. Even a previous Member of Parliament (who shall remain nameless) was in front of me, pounding his imaginary axe.

By the time they play 'Rock The Nation', which they admitted to not haveing played live for a very long time, you could almost be forgiven for thinking you were at a completely different gig. And then Biff lets the crowd decide which track they will play next and the choices are 'The Eagle Has Landed' or 'Broken Heroes'. The decision is based on the size of the crowd's cheers for each and the latter wins.

tina saul

Finally, we're now at the absolute singalong stage of the gig, with the next five tracks guaranteed to work your vocal chords and get fists pumping. 'Play It Loud', 'Rough And Ready' and 'Out Of Control' warm everyone up nicely for 'Denim And Leather' and then my absolute favourite track 'Princess Of The Night' closes off the main set.

Everyone was a little confused when they started playing it again at the end, but it became clear when Biff turned a video camera on the crowd, sang "She used to be an iron horse..." and then let the audience sing the rest, with the band backing them. I guess you could say it was the ultimate Saxon karaoke.

There's still time for more and we are treated to two encores tonight. The first gives guitarist Doug Scarratt the chance to shine with his solo, and ends with '747 (Strangers In The Night)'. The second starts with a bass solo from Nibbs, and the night finishes off with 'Wheels Of Steel'.

tina saul

A solid show, with great audience interaction, but the thing lacking for me was a Christmassy feel to it. There was brief appearance from a Santa hat on stage, but that was about it.

This is the kind of show I like Saxon to do on St. George's Day and that's how I left feeling: proud to be English!

Oh well, that'll do, Christmas will have to wait until next year.



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