SAXON TURN UP THE HEAT IN STEAMING GERMANY
Show Date: June 5, 2011
Location: Berlin, Germany
Reviewer: Dirk Ballerstaedt
Band Websites: www.saxon747.com – www.myspace.com/planetsaxon
Goodness… Sunday was so hot in Germany that you could bake an egg on your car’s hood. It was also very hot inside the venue, the Postbahnhof — which was an old post office station, probably about hundred years ago. While most people stood outside in a garden and had a cold one in their hands, the first opening act took the stage.
Vanderbuyst, from the Netherlands, entered with a Thin Lizzy old-school hard rock feel and the trio did a good job. A couple people bought their CD after the performance at the merchandising table, which shows that a good gig is the best promotion to sell CDs after an event. Right after came English rockers Crimes Of Passion, who will release their debut in August, but they started off a bit lame with the first two songs. The third track they played was Dio‘s “Holy Diver”, and although I don’t have anything against cover versions, it was a bit risky for such a young band with only thirty minutes to play not to perform their own material — but it is up to them how to create the setlist. But after “Holy Diver”, Crimes Of Passion made up for the slow start with a furious return helped by songs such as “God Made Me Your Angel”, “Breathless And Beautiful” and “Pretty In Blood”. I thought another band had jumped on stage, and like me the other people in attendance raised their fists in the sky and saluted lead singer Dale Radcliffe (who is a good old-school heavy metal singer with a powerful and rough voice in the David Coverdale vein). It ended up being a very good show done by a young band from Sheffield… And remember, Def Leppard is also from Sheffield.
Then, as the intro tape started and the stage-lights turned blue, the British rockers Saxon came on and blew everyone away with a razor-sharp sound and a medium sized, but fantastic, light show. Right after the second song “Heavy Metal Thunder” it was obvious why lead vocalist Biff Byford is considered one of the best band leaders in heavy metal… it’s all about charisma. Sometimes singers age like fine wine, and Biff is one of them. He shook his head around like Thor’s hammer and jumped up and down while the rest of the band performed like a very tight unit. The way guitar player Doug Scarratt plays the six-string reminds me of the ’70s, while bassist Nibbs Carter, drummer Nigel Glockler and guitarist Paul Quinn made the Saxon live sound awesome.
The band played songs like “Call To Arms” and “Afterburner” from the new album ‘Call To Arms’, which generally is a good mix of Saxon going retro with fast songs and epic tunes. But the classic standards such as “Play It Loud”, “Rock’n’Roll Gypsy”, “Denim And Leather”, “Princess Of The Night”, “Motorcycle Man”, the incredible “The Eagle Has Landed”, “Dallas 1 P.M.” and the encores “And The Bands Played On”, “Strong Arm Of The Law”, “Crusader” and “Wheels Of Steel” made this night one of heavy metal’s better events.
When, or if, Saxon ever decides to disappear they will be sorely missed. In my opinion I don’t need the typical fast songs at all, and I don’t mean “Heavy Metal Thunder” or “To Hell And Back Again” — instead I think it is the mid-paced songs and epic tunes (like “Crusader” and “Call To Arms”) that are Saxon‘s trademark. It was songs like those that led to over five hundred Berlin fans rocking along with the band. — or maybe it’s just my age and that I don’t feel like head-banging anymore? Either way, two thumbs up for Saxon!