This is what its all about… One of the stalwarts of British Metal – Saxon running riot through the UK, supported by the awesome battle scarred cheeky reprobates, Wolfsbane, and up-coming challengers to the British Metal throne, Fury UK on their “Call To Arms” world tour. Plus we have the added bonus here at TINAS Towers in being able to catch the shows at both Nottingham Rock City (10/04/11) and Manchester Academy 2 (14/04/11). The words are from Nottingham and the pictures from Manchester… that’s proper Rock coverage for you.
Pulling up outside Rock City you really can tell there is something special here tonight. The throng outside the venue has possibly the widest age range you could imagine, bankers mingling with students, “Denim and Leather” in abundance, mixing with skaters and emo kids. Getting inside the venue makes you realise that for many this is the chance to dig out the old gear, squeeze into your 20 year old NWOBHM tour shirt and let your thinning hair down… and teach these young Hoodies a thing or two about how to rock Old School style.
Fury UK are first up in the assault, accomplished, efficient and enthusiastic. These boys have a hefty presence and a great image and for an opening band they are well and truly lapped up by the Saxon faithful. Blistering solo’s, power vocals and plenty of foot on monitor action. This trio is intent on putting the “Power” back into British metal and are a band worth keeping an eye out for. A more than worthy addition to the tour.
Next up … Wolsbane, and it’s time for the Howling Mad Shitheads to raise their voices and surge to the front of the stage. I admit, I’m a fan, I was twenty odd years ago, and I still am now, so as the ever grinning Jase Edwards cranks into the opening riff for “Limo”, I cant help but launch myself forwards into the heaving masses front and centre forgetting any professional etiquette in favour of; “fuck this, I’m here for a good time… I’ll worry about taking notes later”. Wolfsbane rocked, plain and simple. They are an entertainment machine, clearly enjoying themselves and enjoying the response they get from the packed room. This could easily be a Wolfsbane show judging by how charismatic frontman Blaze Bayley milks the crowd. He’s been around the block a bit, so knows a trick or two, but fronting Wolfsbane in a decent club sized venue is where he belongs. These guys roll back the years, have the crowd eating out of their hands hanging on every word that Bayley throws out.
A short but sweet set is devoured by the Saxon faithful, the title track of the new EP “Did It For The Money” goes down a treat, but its when the Wolfsbane classics come in that the place becomes alight. “Loco” and “Killing Machine” are blistering, “Kathy Wilson” is genius entertainment, Bayley milking everything from the crowd and band alike. Musically it is solid and professional leaving crowd and band feeling energised young and happy… grinning like when you first found your Dad’s porn stash. This is showing the youth of today how it’s really done, and with a new studio album in the pipeline, we at TINAS Towers really can’t wait.
Just in case you aren’t sure who is headlining tonight, the close to capacity crowd are sure to remind you. The roof raising chants of “Saxon, Saxon, Saxon” fill the air as the Yorkshire metal legion explodes. Tonight it is hard and heavy, an aural onslaught of British steel right from the word go. The instantly identifiable Saxon frontman Biff Byford is on fire tonight and the build up to the release of their 19th studio album “Call To Arms” begins. Saxon have always been ones to take no prisoners and adopt the direct approach, and tonight is no exception, launching straight into one of the new tracks, “Hammer Of The Gods” sets the tone of the evening.
It’s two hours of pure metal. A setlist littered with classics, but then again with the amount of albums these guys have under their belt, keeping it as short as two hours is probably hard. Saxon have lost none of their power and passion. Yes Biff headbangs slower than he used to, and the band aren’t as “active” on stage as they once were, but who cares, because this is a master class in delivering rock. The new tracks of ‘Call To Arms’ and the epic sounding “When Doomsday Comes” easily sit alongside the bastions of the Saxon set, and are destined to be future classics themselves.
This is a performance that is a musical time machine. I for one being transported back to my youth, remembering playing ‘Denim and Leather’ and ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ over and over again, as the guys in front of us thunder through tracks like “Princess Of The Night”, “And The Bands Played On”, “20,00 Feet” and “To Hell and Back Again”.
It’s an electric performance, the dual fretwork of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt is flawless in its execution as the band are as tight as ever. The two hours flies by, and the crowd lap up every second. The big guns are left for the encores with curfews being challenged as Biff and co decimate us with “Wheels Of Steel”, “Crusaders”, “747 Strangers In The Night”, “Strong Arm Of The Law” and “Motorcycle Man” all forming part of the three session encores. Saxon, always faithful and always delivering… we just don’t ever want these boys to stop, and come May 23rd we’ll be waiting for the new album to drop.