Saxon return to the North East of England to deal with some unfinished business.
Turn back the clocks to December 2014: Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler was rushed to the hospital with a brain aneurysm in this very town resulting in the cancellation of the remaining tour dates. The later rescheduled shows featured Sven Dirkschneider (son of Accept’s Udo Dirkschneider) on drums. Present tonight are the medical staff who looked after Glockler during his illness, and Nigel sports his Newcastle United shirt in appreciation.
Earlier this year, both Saxon and their current touring counterparts, Girlschool, were due to tour the UK with the mighty Motorhead before Lemmy tragically passed away in late 2015. Tonight they are reunited, alongside Fastway featuring guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clark, who is the only surviving member of Motorhead’s original lineup.
With an early curfew tonight, there is no time to waste; Girlschool hit the stage running, so to speak. A large crowd is in attendance early on to see the band as they deliver a short but sweet, six-song set mainly taken from their first two albums, Demolition and Hit and Run. There is also room for a couple of track’s from Girlschool’s latest album Guilty as Sin including “Take It Like A Band” and “Come The Revolution”. The band brings their 30-minute set to a close with “Emergency” from their debut record leaving the crowd wanting more.
Following an extended touring absence, Fastway are playing some of their first shows since 2007 on this run and “Fast” Eddie Clark receives a hero’s welcome from the Geordie rock fraternity. Rounding out the lineup is ex-Little Angels frontman Toby Jepson (who also produced Saxon’s Call To Arms album), ex-Mama’s Boys bass player John McManus and Steve Strange on drums. The engaging and charismatic Jepson is in fine voice and the perfect foil for Clark.
Fastway’s set is predominantly taken from their 1983 self-titled debut album and includes the likes of “Heft!”, “Another Day”, and set closer “Easy Livin'”, which gets the crowd fired up and ready for Saxon.
AC/DC’s “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)” ushers Saxon to the stage as they break into the fast and furious title track of their latest offering, Battering Ram. It’s Friday night, and Tyneside is in a party mood.
What is noticeable tonight is the many different generations of rock fans in attendance, for which the band cater to in their career-spanning set covering all the bases. As you would want and expect, they play the Saxon classics including the anthemic “And The Band’s Played On”, “Never Surrender”, and “Dallas 1pm”. These each sit side by side some of Saxon’s more recent material like “Queen of Hearts”, “Devil’s Footprint”, and “Sacrifice”.
Saxon have a long relationship with the North East of England. Biff reminisces about the band’s early shows at Newcastle’s supporters club and Sunderland’s Boilermakers club, saying, “we virtually started here”.
The band closes the show with their classic single, “Wheels of Steel”, before returning to the stage accompanied by “Fast” Eddie Clark, as they pay tribute to their fallen friend, Lemmy, with a frantic rendition of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”.
While the venue is set to close early, the band manages to squeeze in another couple of classics in the shape of “747 (Strangers in the Night)” and “Princess of the Night”, each of which has the audience hanging on every word.
With a career spanning almost forty years, Saxon are one still one of the greatest heavy metal bands to emerge from the UK. They are working on the follow-up to Battering Ram, which is planned for a 2017 release.
Saxon will continue to tour the UK and mainland Europe through to Christmas.
You can download and listen to Saxon, including their latest Battering Ram, on Amazon.
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Event Date: 28-Oct-2016