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Shepherd's Bush Empire
Saturday 7th February 2015

steve goldby


What is there to say about Saxon that hasn't already been said? I haven't counted but I suspect they are the most reviewed band on this site and there's a very good reason for that.

Some things in life you can always depend on, for example death, taxes, ridiculously high credit card bills in January and Saxon always delivering the goods. Tonight we expected, tonight Saxon delivered and that's the way it always has been and that's the way it always will be.

This string of dates that the band undertook were originally scheduled for December but as widely publicised, drummer Nigel Glockler suffered a brain aneurysm and the last few gigs of the tour had to be postponed while Nigel underwent surgery. And after that nasty scare, the great news is that as well as the band being back and as powerful as they ever were, Nigel is well on the mend and as well as receiving a massive ovation when he made an appearance on stage tonight, actually played one song as well, '747 (Strangers In The Night)'.

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Nigel's replacement for this run was Sven Dirkschneider, son of Udo, and recently announced as permanent drummer in his father's band and I have to say, what an absolutely fine young chap he is. No ego, no airs and graces and far too polite to be a Heavy Metal drummer. I hope he goes far.

He certainly took Saxon far on Saturday night; the youthful vigour he injected into the band reminded me of the kick up the arse Richie Faulkner gave Judas Priest when he joined them. That is not to say that Saxon were flagging before and not to take anything away from Nigel, just that the young man took his opportunity and ran with it all the way and the band benefitted from that enormously.


Biff must have got a new camcorder for Christmas because the band didn't make their traditional stage entrance. They walked on together with Biff leading his men as he filmed the racous Shepherd's Bush crowd all cheering for this most sturdy and steadfast of British Metal bands.

You can see the results in this short video clip here and then it was troops mobilised and straight into action as 'Motorcycle Man' started peeling the paint off the venue's walls as the audience went into a frenzy. It was crystal clear from the first few seconds that the band were on top form and about to deliver a sterling performance.

Classic after classic rocked the place; just check out that setlist below. The number of bands who could pull off a gig with that many absolutely killer numbers could probably be counted on two fingers but this is Saxon we are talking about here and the power and glory was there in full force tonight.

Saxon are bombastic and glorious and are the epitome of Heavy Metal's pomp and grandeur. It's unfair to say they are a throwback to the 80s because they are also a throwback to the 90s, noughties and 10s as well and you don't stay at the very top of your game that long by fluke. Only the very best get to last this many years.


And they are getting better as well. I heard many people in attendance, both hardened industry types and regular fans too, all say it was the best they have ever seen Saxon play.

I've personally lost count of the number of times I have seen them now since that first ever time in the early 80s but I can't recall a performance to top this one. Biff genuinely loves his audience and the band are playing with bigger smiles on their faces than they have ever worn before.


Hell guitarist Andy Sneap, who mixed and mastered Saxon's 2013 album 'Sacrifice', joined the band for a rousing rendition of '20,000 Ft' and there was another surprise in store for the very final number 'Denim And Leather') when the first lady of Metal, Doro Pesch, entered proceedings.

And what a performance she put on. Like Saxon, Doro always delivers the goods and it was great to see her doing the business with one of the finest live bands you will ever see.


So it's a big "welcome back" to Nigel in what should be a very happy new year for Saxon. They're scheduled to play The Ramblin' Man Fair in July and Hard Rock Hell in November as well as some US dates and a gig in Holland in April. Expect many more dates to be announced soon because the monicker of this tour, 'Warriors Of The Road', sums up Saxon's work ethic perfectly.

After more than 35 years and 13 million albums sold worldwide, this band are nowhere near ready to start slowing down yet. I am already looking forward to many more nights like this one as Saxon continue to tear up stages across the world with pure Heavy Metal thunder.


Motorcycle Man
Power And The Glory
And The Bands Played On
To Hell And Back Again
We Got To Rock To Stay Alive
Forever Free
Dallas 1pm
Solid Ball Of Rock
20,000 Ft (+ Andy Sneap)
Suzie Hold On
The Eagle Has Landed
Never Surrender
Heavy Metal Thunder
747 (Strangers In The Night) (+ Nigel Glockler)
Princess Of The Night
Wheels Of Steel
Strong Arm Of The Law
Denim And Leather (+ Doro)


Pictures by Sean Cameron

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