DirecTV Music Hall, São Paulo, Brazil
May 17, 2002
Review & Photos by Thiago Martins
has played in Brazil three times. The first time, back in 1997, is a
part of Brazilian Heavy Metal History. The band played a 2 and a half
hour gig, almost all of which was classic songs. The gig had such great
repercussions that the band came back in 1998 as part of the Monsters of
Rock festival. Again, a great show--but nowhere near as the classic
I witnessed the 1997 gig, but at the time I wasn't that much into
Saxon. Since then, I've gotten into them. In 1998, though, even with
Saxon doing a great gig, I was kinda disappointed. Not with the band,
but with myself. Why the hell wasn't I into Saxon in 1997, to be able to
fully appreciate that gig? What are the chances of Saxon doing something
like that again?
So that was the feeling I had when I left the movies and went to the
same venue (now called DirecTV Music Hall) to see Saxon's third
appearance in São Paulo. I think that outside the venue no one would
bet that the British legends would give us a gig as historical as that
one back in 1997. Neither did I. But, hell--now I am a huge Saxon fan
and, being as historical or not like the first time, I would be there
for a great heavy metal night.
I talked too much with a friend and missed the supporting act, a
Brazilian band called Liar Symphony. Actually, I've seen them other
times, and they've played well. From what I head of this set, they
played well again. But I was there to see Saxon.
And there they were. The title track to the KILLING GROUND album was
the kick-off. It's a great song, no doubt about that, but there was a
feeling that a classic night was about to start. The second song was not
an ordinary one: it was the classic "Dallas 1 p.m.", from the
almighty STRONG ARM OF THE LAW record. The sequence was made by the King
Crimson cover "In the Court of the Crimson King", with the
entire crowd chanting the melody line.
By that time, everybody was kicked from the photo-pit, and I was
forced to the middle of the crowd, where I forget for awhile that I was
covering the gig. I was just another fan, singing with all the rest all
the lyrics for classics like "Dogs of War",
"747(Strangers in the Night)", "Strong Arm of the
Law", the unusual "Backs to the Wall" (from their first
album), and "Broken Heroes", the awesome "The Eagle Has
Landed", the newer ones like "The Thin Red Line",
"Metalhead", "Dragon's Lair", and
"Conquistador", that came with a medley including a drum solo
- I'm not too fond of solos, but this one came in a proper time, in the
end of the set and it was a bit of a pause for the goodies that were yet
I have got to mention that Biff Byfford is still singing really
greatly, and he is still a great front-man, leading the crowd to sing
with him all the time. It seems he never gets old!!! Paul Quinn and Doug
Scarret did a great job, both playing solos and amazing riffs perfectly.
On the rhythm section, the drummer Fritz Randow played everything as
it's supposed to be, and he did a good drum solo, spinning the
drumsticks in his hand, interacting with the audience. Nibbs Carter on
bass had an astonishing stage performance, running all around the stage,
getting as wild as the crowd.
After the drum solo, "Heavy Metal Thunder" started and the
venue became a heavy metal temple. Biff announced that the next song
hadn't been played in São Paulo yet, and then they played "Never
Surrender". They still did "The Power and the Glory" and
"Princess of the Night" until they finished the first part of
the gig. Almost two hours had passed but it felt like less than an hour.
The band returned for the encore. "20,000 ft" was played
while the crowd was asking for "Motorcycle Man". I bet no one
was disappointed! In the sequence, "Solid Ball of Rock" was
played. I don't think anyone wanted that gig to ever have an end. I'm
sure I didn't!
Biff didn't want it to end, either! So he made an act that he had
already done in São Paulo, in 1997, and I think it has already become a
trademark at a Saxon gig: he got the setlist paper on his monitor and he
tore it to pieces! And he told Mr. Quinn to show what was to come.
"Crusader"! A heavy metal hymn, perhaps one of the most epic
songs of all times. Tears in the eyes, everybody was singing it… what
a heavy metal night. Again, the band left the stage.
So it was the time for the crowd, about 2,000 real headbangers, to
start chanting "Ole, ole, ole… Saxon… Saxon…". And the
band returned for another encore. The crowd chanted again for
"Motorcycle Man", and so Saxon played the song. And the crowd
went really crazy at that one. The fast riff, the easy chorus. Perfect
for the people to get wild!
The buzz was so loud that I just heard Biff saying that the following
song was composed back in 1980, when they played at a festival called
"Monsters of Rock". And the band played "And the Bands
Played On". What is a life of a headbanger after hearing this
classic tune? Saxon showed us by playing "Rock is Our Life" in
the sequence, maybe their newest classic tune. I didn't know what else
to expect from this gig. If denim and leather brought as all together,
that song couldn't be missed. And it wasn't! Saxon played "Denim
and Leather" in order to set our spirit free one more time.
I couldn't believe the gig was ending. Nobody could, so the crowd
started chanting "Wheels of Steel… Wheels of Steel… Wheels of
Steel". But the lights went on and the curtains started to fall. It
was the end of this amazing heavy met… what? The curtains stopped
falling! The lights went off again! The band returned to the stage! And
so they played "Wheels of Steel", to please us headbangers for
one last time on that magic night.
So it happened what nobody would have bet: Saxon delivered once again
a classic gig. If they had marked Brazilian heavy metal history once in
1997, the did it again in 2002. After another 2 and half hour gig, I had
my redemption. This is exactly what we expect our favorite bands to do
on gigs: play everything they are able to until the end, no matter how
long it takes. Maybe we all should look up to Saxon. A band that has
nothing more to prove to anyone and they still stay on stage for such a
long time, playing what their fans ask for. Is that too much for other
bands to do?
Official Saxon Website: www.saxon747.com