6’TH OF NOVEMBER
CLUB VIRGIN OIL CO., HELSINKI
REVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Progressive rock band Saga has been awarded gold and platinum albums, and they have sold over eight million albums during their 30 years plus career, but they’re still like a “big unknown” in Finland. The band has never performed here before, and especially now, with the original lead singer Michael Sadler is back in the fold, it was finally time to witness the band perform its debut show here. It was pleasant to see that although Saga is not as known as their Canadian colleagues Rush, they still virtually sold-out show in Club Virgin Oil in Helsinki in front of approximately 500 fans whose long wait was now finally over.
The show opened up with classic ”Out In The Shadows” followed by Saga’s best-known material like: “You`re Not Alone,” On the Loose,” “Flyer,” “Don`t Be Late,” Humble Stance,” “Scratching Surface” and “Wind Him Up.” Bands two biggest selling albums, WORLD’S APART and HEADS OR TALES, were heavily present, but altogether band did play material from a wide selection of their almost 30 album catalog.
Returning vocalist Michael Sadler was having an excellent evening. His stage charisma was powerful and, what’s most important, his voice was still in great shape. Sadler is genuinely a rock royalty and one of the best singers in the industry. It was funny to notice that band didn’t play a single song from their latest opus, THE HUMAN CONDITION, which is the only Saga album to feature Rob Moratti on lead vocals. It’s also the only Saga studio album being released without Sadler’s presence, so that album might not be his favorite one, although it’s a strong release overall.
But this wasn’t just a Michael Sadler show. The Crichton brothers were obscenely good, and Ian proved some extremely great guitar playing through the set. Keyboardist Jim Gilmour did a great job as well, and he was an essential piece on demanding vocal harmonies. The man even did some lead vocal parts during the show and handled those well. Drummer Brian Doerner (ex –Helix) complained before the show that he was suffering some fever, but fortunately, it didn’t seem to affect his playing in any way. And, I almost forgot, but there was one more performer on the stage there. I don’t know who she actually was, probably a longtime fan, but a dark-haired female took over the lead vocals on “Humble Stance.” Sadler handled bass duties on that one and also sang backing vocals with this “unknown” acquaintance. She did a decent job there, and for sure, this was a pleasant moment for many male fans there.
After witnessing this show, it truly amazes me a bit how Saga has lost the great fame they had in the early-mid ’80s. Compared to any other band of its genre, this band should be selling out bigger venues. Saga doesn’t lose an inch for currently more famous bands like Marillion or Porcupine Tree. Only time will tell how things will go in the future, but the fact is that Saga is presently working on the next studio album, and there’s a tour to follow. Hopefully, we’ll then see boys returning here for another taste!
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