O2 ABC, Glasgow
Sunday 21st April
Johnny Main: Photos by Carlan Braid
It's been a mere four months since Saxon last performed in Scotland (through at Edinburgh's HMV Picture House) and with their new album, 'Sacrifice', recently released and on the receiving end of some great reviews from fans and critics, the band managed to get a capacity crowd in the ABC in Glasgow – all the more surprising when you manage it on a Sunday too!
Once on stage, though, the band lost no time in getting straight down to business. Opening with the title track of the new opus, as vocalist Biff Byford himself comments it's their "best selling album for some time", and they seem to have been building towards it for the past few albums, so it's only fair to air a good few numbers from it tonight.
Byford is, of course, a seasoned front man who manages to get the packed crowd energized from the off and doesn't waver at all during the evening. What followed this opening salvo, was a two hour master class in putting on a great rock show.
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Early issues with the guitar sound are quickly banished and from then on, the band are in full flow from start to finish. New tracks like 'Made In Belfast', 'Guardians Of The Tomb' and 'Stand Up And Fight' sit well amongst the older tracks and even though the albums not been out for that long, judging by the audience reaction to these tracks, it could be that some of these may be retained in the set list of future tours.
Unlike many bands who play the same set from the start of a tour to the end of it, Saxon do like to mix things up a bit, and it's not long before the Glasgow faithful get their chance to pick the tracks. Utilising the tried and tested 'clap-o-meter', Byford calls on the "human set list" and a roar of appreciation goes up for the audience choice of 'And The Bands Played On', with the crowd savouring every single second of it.
Paul Quinn is particularly good tonight with a stunning solo during the aforementioned 'Guardians Of The Tomb' and coming over all Jimmy Page with his (gorgeous) white double necked Gibson SG, whilst bass player Timothy 'Nibbs' Carter seems to endlessly head bang his way through each and every number without losing momentum or dropping a note.
It's not all new tracks tonight, though and the set is littered with classic tracks – "We never play this one", jokes Biff before launching into 'Ride Like The Wind' whilst 'Dallas 1PM' finally manages to get the punters at the back of the balcony on their feet and what he describes as "a little hit", that'll be the ubiquitous '747 (Strangers In The Night)' then, has the audience (understandably) going absolutely crazy with the 'Glasgow choir' once again in full flow with Biff at one point leaving the crowd to sing the chorus it on their own – a truly memorable performance for all the right reasons.
It's clear from their performance tonight, that Saxon are in Glasgow to party and with the promise of a return visit very soon (as Biff promises: "It'll be a Saturday night next time!"), the band wrap up their set with familiar tones of 'Crusader', 'Denim And Leather' and 'Princess Of The Night' before they bid a fond farewell to the crowd.
No running off stage for the encore from the band tonight, but as promised a full two hours of good old fashioned British Heavy Metal, from a band that has been there and done it all and still has more to give.
Wheels of Terror
Power and the Glory
Made in Belfast
Rock N' Roll Gypsies
And the Bands Played On
I've Got To Rock
Night of the Wolf
Guardians of the Tomb
Ride Like The Wind
Stand Up and Fight
747 (Strangers In The Night)
Wheels of Steel
String Arm of the Law
Denim and Leather
Princess of the Night
You can catch Saxon live here:
Tuesday 23rd April – The Ritz, Manchester
Wednesday 24th April – O2 Academy, Leeds
Friday 26th April – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
Saturday 27th April – O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Sunday 28th April – O2 Academy, Bristol
Wednesday 1st May – The Academy, Dublin
Friday 3rd May – Mandela Hall, Belfast
Sunday 5th May – O2 Academy, Oxford
Monday 6th May – Princess Pavilion, Falmouth
Biff Byford – Vocals
Paul Quinn – Guitars
Doug Scarratt – Guitars
Timothy 'Nibbs' Carter – Bass Guitar
Nigel Glockler – Drums
Official Website: www.saxon747.com