Battering Ram World Tour – European leg 2016
Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons – support act
Kulturbolaget, Malmo, Sweden
27/11 – 2016
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
The British metal legends Saxon are out on the roads again delivering some solid heavy metal music to the masses. Saxon performed on festivals throughout the past summer and kicked off a new European tour in October that began in England and ended in Belgium on the 22th of December. The band is still touring on the album BATTERING RAM that was released in October 2015 which is the bands 20th(!) album so far. EAGLES AND DRAGONS is the name of the bands newly released box set that includes all the albums they released in between 1991-2001 on vinyl. The new live album LET ME FEEL THE POWER which is available to purchase as a live DVD that features 2 live DVD’s (or blue-ray) or as a double CD or as a deluxe vinyl version is the bands 10th live album. When the tour hit the UK, Fastway and Girlschool are support acts. When the band came to Denmark, just Girlschool remained. In Sweden it was Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons who took over the task. The shows in Sweden were the first ones with Saxon which were the first show of totally nine on this tour. I was a bit disappointed that Girlschool didn’t follow Saxon to Sweden because it would have been the ultimate evening to see both Saxon and Girlschool. The legendary girl band Girlschool are joining the tour again during the last dates of the tour. However, it was fun to see Phil Campbell again, I saw him and his band performing at Wacken Open Air this summer, tonight the venue was Kulturbolaget which is the best club in the southern parts of Sweden when it comes to rock and metal.
The doors opened at 7 and when I met up with my friends outside it was already a long line with people waiting outside to come in. A few of my friends had been waiting outside the club during the day in order to get albums signed by Saxon but since the band sold meet and greet none of the members had come out to sign. After a while we finally came into the warm club which was nice because the weather was awful with cold winds. To my satisfaction I saw there was a photo pit which meant I was able to take descent pictures during the shows. The club was pretty soon filled with fans that wanted to see Saxon and I guess there were also many there to see Phil Campbell in action. Phil Campbell and the Bastards Sons released a self-titled EP at the end of November containing 5 original songs. The EP was released by Motörhead Music. The band consists of Campbell, his three sons and a friend to them.
Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons
“Big Mouth” was the first song out and it set the tone for the rest of the show. Starr thanked fans for the applause and said “we are Phil Campbell And the Bastard Sons and it’s fun to be here tonight.”
“Nothing Up My Sleeve” followed and the Motörhead cover woke up the crowd for real. Starr looked a bit nervous, his voice wasn’t at its best and he mostly stared out in the air while he sang. Maybe he was nervous because it was the first show on the tour. “Spiders” followed instantly
The full band consists of:
Neil Starr – lead vocals
Tyla Campbell – bass
Dane Campbell – drums
Todd Campbell – guitar
Phil Campbell – guitar
Starr thanked the crowd and asked if they wanted to hear more music and fired off another Motörhead cover in “R.A.M.O.N.E.S” during which Starr headbanged himself through the song. All of the members except for Phil Campbell had on vests with the band logo that looked like a biker logo. The band felt tight and solid and Phil looked really cool and relaxed on stage. The same went for all of his sons, it was only singer Starr that appeared a little nervous. “Take Aim” followed where it was time for Phil to show off on lead guitar and Starr wanted the fans to scream for Campbell.
Starr wanted the fans to scream on his command and thanked the crowd for liking their music. The Motörhead song “Born To Raise Hell” continued the show and needless to say the song made everyone in the club raise their hands and yell. The best way to describe the band music ought to be raw, energetic, dirty rock n roll much in the Motörhead spirit. The longer the show proceeded Starr’s voice sounded better and better and he let the fans sing the chorus in the middle just as Motörhead did and Phil asked if the fans were ready for Saxon.
Next up is one of my favorite songs he continued saying and Starr asked if there were any Sabbath fans in the house. It was “Sweet Leaf” that followed, Starr walked off the stage when Todd and Phil threw a guitar duel and the song became a pretty extended version of the original song. Starr now returned and asked if the club was ready to hear another Motörhead tune in “Ace Of Spades” which made the crowd go bananas. It looked like Phil had a great time on stage and the rest of the band also seemed to do really well in the spotlight. Phil and Todd had a really great co-operation and it felt like Starr had dropped his nervousness a bit and he felt more relaxed the further into the show he got. “Eat the Rich” and “Silver Machine” followed, the last song as a tribute to Lemmy. Many didn’t seem to know that “Eat The Rich” was a Motörhead song, Phil said this was the bands first show in Sweden and dedicated “Silver Machine” to his very special friend Lemmy. The band pulled off a great version of the old Hawkwind song and many, along with me, miss Lemmy deeply. Even though no man is immortal I was blown away when I heard the news of Lemmy’s departure, he felt immortal.
Starr thanked the crowd for coming and asked if they wanted to hear more music and fired off the Motörhead classic “Killed By Death”. Starr once again let the crowd take the lead in the chorus and he also let the fans sing the song on their own after which he thanked everyone and ended the song. He said the band wanted to come back and play in Malmo soon and with those words the 45 minute show ended.
Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons was the perfect opening act for Saxon, they sure got the crowd in the mood for some heavy metal with their energetic performance. The only negative thing with the show, that the band can’t be blamed for, was the poor lighting. Starr was also a bit nervous at the beginning but as the show proceeded he let loose and turned out to be a pretty good front man. It was really nice to hear all the Motörhead covers but I look forward to hear some brand new music from the gang. I hope that Phil Campbell continues making more music and touring with his Bastards Sons.
Nothing Up My Sleeve
Born to Raise Hell
Ace Of Spades
Eat The Rich
Killed By Death
The crew took out Saxon’s gear and backdrop picturing the band name. The club was now close to full with people and I was impressed by how the band still manages to stay important even though they have been in the business since 1977 (then under the name Son Of A Bitch). The band released their not so impressive debut album in 1979 and the monumental classic piece WHEELS OF STEEL came the year after. That album, along with STRONG ARM OF THE LAW, and DENIM AND LEATHER, pretty much set the standard of the heavy metal genre.
I could see both old hardcore fans that probably were around when the band started out as well as their kids standing in position to see the band and I was eager to hear if the band was going to feature some of the not so expected songs this night. At 9.15 the lights went out and the intro to “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock n Roll)” came out from the speakers and the club was ready to meet the mighty Saxon.
The band showed up together on stage during the second intro and the first song out was “Battering Ram” which started off the night with a blast. Byford stood behind his mic stand banging his head the song through and the tempo and energy was high from the very start of the show. “Heavy Metal Thunder” followed and the old classic tune brought down massive applauds from the fans. The four smoke machines, two at the front and two at the back, threw smoke during the song and it looked really cool with Byford standing in the middle of the smoke while singing. The line up in Saxon is:
Biff Byford – lead vocals
Paul Quinn – guitar
Nigel Glockler – drums
Nibbs Carter – bass
Doug Scarratt – guitar
Byford thanked for the response and said it was nice to be back amongst Vikings again and fired off “Sacrifice”. Even though that song is pretty new the fans jumped up and down shouting along in it and Byford once again thanked the fans for the support. “Solid Ball Of Rock” fired up the crowd even more and Byford let the fans sing the chorus and had them scream on his command. Byford asked how everyone was doing tonight and said that it was going to be hot in the club tonight. The next song is taken from the album CALL TO ARMS and it’s “Chasing The Bullet” he continued and the club went crazy.
The band felt solid and sounded like they were having a good time on stage and I can’t but admire Byford for being the same excellent front man throughout all these years. Taken from WHEELS OF STEEL, the next song was “Stand Up And Be Counted”. Quinn smiled under his bandanna while he was opening the song hearing the fans screaming. It was mostly Byford that moved around on stage while Carter stood on his side with a foot on the monitor and Quinn mostly only took one step forward when it was his time to make a solo. The band walked off the stage and the intro to “The Devil’s Footprint” followed as the guys came back. With that song the tempo dropped a bit and it’s maybe not the obvious choice of song to choose from the BATTERING RAM. All but Carter moved to the side of the stage while he was doing a bass solo and had everyone to scream at his command, the solo turned out in “Strong Arm Of The Law” which woke up the crowd again.
The fans shouted “Saxon Saxon Saxon” and Byford smiled and looked happy letting the fans sing the chorus. He thanked Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons for opening the night and urged the crowd to scream for them. When Byford told the crowd they had been performing in Copenhagen last night everyone booed, and Byford said “well you don’t like Copenhagen?! Well now it’s time for you to choose which song we are going to play – “The Eagle Has Landed”, “Broken Heroes” or “Crusader”?” The crowd picked “Crusader” which I thought was not the best choice because to be honest I’m pretty bored with that song by now. Not that I have anything against it, but I had rather heard “Broken Heroes”. However, the crowd loved it and sang along and it was no doubt that this golden earring was one of the most anticipated songs this night. Byford changed the lyrics and sang Warlords of fucking Sweden and when the fans heard it they screamed even louder. Quinn took a step forward on stage and threw a solo after which Byford wanted the fans to give a hand for Quinn. Byford thought the fans sang really loud and good and said if the crowd wasn’t tired yet it was time to either choose a slow or a fast song, which one do you think we’re going to play, well let’s play a slow song and Biff kicked off “20 000 Feet” that was followed by “Queen Of Hearts”.
The fans went really ecstatic when Byford announced “And The Band Played On” which by the way are one of my personal favorite songs with the band and it was nice to hear the band mixed old and more current songs in the set list. Needless to say Byford had the fans in the palm of his hand and the crowd followed his every move and just as Byford said earlier the club had become pretty hot and sweaty. Another classical pick in “Dallas 1 pm” continued the night and Scarratt threw a solo in the middle of the song. Byford then took a look at the crowd and said it was time for “Wheels Of Steel” and I don’t think I have to say that the crowd went totally crazy this Sunday night when they heard the song. The mandatory sing a long part came as always in the middle of the song. Byford said that the fans now were warmed up and that it was really hot on the stage. He wanted the fans so shout hey hey hey for him and sing as loud as they could in the song. Now you know what to do and asked if it was OK if he filmed the fans while they were singing along in the song and took up his phone. The fans started straight away but Byford laughed and said they had to wait because he had to introduce the fans and say which city the band was in first. He gave the phone to a roadie and said he wanted the fans to sing three times while he was filming and each time he urged the fans to sing louder, he on the other hand couldn’t sing louder he said because he had a cold. The song and film session ended the show that lasted for about 75 minutes.
Of course, fans wanted to hear more from Saxon and shouted really loud for encores. A very sweaty band returned on stage and Byford thanked for the amazing support. He said the next song was a slow one taken from the bands new live DVD and “Let Me Feel the Power” was the first encore out. The next he said was a song about Scandinavia in “747 (Strangers In the Night)”. Byford stopped the band and let the fans sing the chorus and since this song is yet another one of my favorite songs by the band I’m always glad to hear it live. However the fans still wasn’t satisfied and shouted for yet more encores. Byford said that he wasn’t sure if the band was going to perform at Sweden Rock Festival next year but urged the fans to write and wish the band to the organizers and wish for the festival to book them. The next encore out for the night was “Denim And Leather” where Byford, Quinn and Scarratt all walked out on the small ramp in the middle of the stage and stood there together, it was amazing to see how much joy and effort the band still put into every show. Not many artists that are 65 deliver such a strong show as Byford did – with a cold!!
A fan threw up a patch covered denim vest to Byford who took it on and wore it throughout the song, then he took it off and signed it and threw it back to the one who gave it to him. Byford grabbed Quinn and took him with him to the center of the stage to fire off the final encore in “Princess Of the Night” that got everyone in the club to sing a long.
The show contained 1h 45min of magic music and it was never a dull moment, it feels good that Saxon is still going strong and I think they have at least a few more good years of good music and touring in them. It was nice to hear they had the guts to mix older and more current songs and even though I missed a few personal favorites I was still happy with the set list. This was just another great show threw by the legendary and mighty Saxon!!
It’s a Long Way to The Top (If you Wanna Rock n Roll)” intro
Heavy Metal Thunder
Solid Ball Of Rock
Chasing The Bullet
Stand Up And Be Counted
The Devil’s Footprint
Strong Arm Of The Law
Queen And Hearts
And The Band Played On
Dallas 1 pm
Wheels Of Steel
Let Me feel Your Power
747 (strangers In the Night)
Denim And Leather
Princess Of the Night
Thanks to the head of Kulturbolaget Totte Lundgren for help with press/photo pass to the show.
Thanks to the staff and security for another great year, I hope that next year will be as good of a concert year as 2016 was.