Saxon are back at the Ritz, the first time since the release of ‘Saxon- St. George’s Day Sacrifice – Live in Manchester’ back in March of this year. The set list that time was pure fan driven magic, however this time around the tour is dubbed ‘Warriors of the Road’ and features all the hits from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th albums, ( plus a few more select tracks) which are: ‘Wheels Of Steel’, ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ and ‘Denim And Leather’, or the Holy Trinity as Biff puts it.
Tonight’s support are Beyond the Black, a female fronted metal band from Germany and British metal legends, Hell, and what a show they put on, in some ways this could have been a headlining performance from them, as vocalist David Beckford and the guys managed to deliver a storming set.
However great Hell were, the cheer that greeted Biff as he bounded onto the stage was deafening, he was welcomed back to Manchester like a returning conquering hero, and to some extent he was, as this tour started off in Greece back in October. (Needless to say Biff and the band were welcomed with open arms and big cheers).
However many times I watch Saxon I am still in awe at the sheer stage presence Biff commands, the crowd hang onto his every word, his every movement is followed, his every note sang.
Opening up with ‘Motorcycle Man’ the very first song on ‘Wheels’ is a great way to get any crowd going, next up is ‘Sacrifice’ taken from the latest album of the same name, this is the only new track to be played tonight. ‘Power and the Glory’ raises the roof; however things go a little bit quiet for the next two ‘Solid Ball of Rock’ and ‘Lionheart’. Things are soon back to normal with a crowd sing along to a storming version of ‘And the Bands Played On’ and a quick run through of ‘I’ve Got to Rock’ before ‘Strong Arm of the Law’
Saxon are really tight tonight and loving every minute of it, with Biff grinning like a Cheshire cat, somebody from the crowd chucks him a St. Georges flag and after wrapping it around his mic stand for a song or two he then drapes it over the drum kit for everybody to see.
The lighter ‘Forever Free’ powers into ‘To Hell and Back Again’ before‘Frozen Rainbow’ taken from the self-titled debut album transports us all back in time, it’s great to hear this track still being played, and being given a modern reworking, adding extra power to the song.
‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ always a fan favorite is up next along with ‘Suzie Hold On’ a track they have very rarely played before the start of this tour.
Dallas 1 PM is tonight’s crowd picked song, as Saxon have changed the running order and songs throughout this tour, keeping it fresh and interesting.
‘Demon Sweeney Todd’, ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and ‘This Town Rocks’ dedicated to Manchester (off course ) leads us nicely into the final straight with tracks like ‘747’, ‘Crusader’ and ‘Princess of the Night’.
As Saxon leave the stage there are two glaringly obvious tracks that so far haven’t been played tonight, however Saxon soon make a welcome return to the stage, it’s pretty obvious what the two song encore will be, and we are not wrong. What else could Saxon play as an encore but: ‘Wheels of Steel’, ‘Denim and Leather’ to end this show on a high.
Another superb show from Saxon, with great support from Hell, this is a tour not to be missed
Power and the Glory
Solid Ball of Rock
And the Bands Played On
I’ve Got to Rock (To Stay Alive)
Strong Arm of the Law
To Hell and Back Again
Heavy Metal Thunder
Suzie Hold On
Dallas 1 PM
Demon Sweeney Todd
The Eagle Has Landed
This Town Rocks
747 (Strangers in the Night)
Princess of the Night
Wheels of Steel
Denim and Leather