Saxon – Battering Ram European Tour 2015
With support act Dirty Passion
Kulturbolaget, Malmo, Sweden
December 2, 2015
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
The English heavy metal icons Saxon, are warriors of the road. The bands brand new album BATTERING RAM came out in October 2015. The first brilliant single from the album is the selft titled track. The bands popularity seems to increase with every album they releas. I think the band has grown stronger with each album these past few years and even though it has been a while since they unleashed a straight up studio effort they have filled the gap with live album in ST GEORGES DAY SACRIFICE – LIVE IN MANCHESTER and the compilation disc UNPLUGGED AND STRUNG UP as well as the two part DVD in HEAVY METAL THUNDER LIVE EAGLES OVER WACKEN from 2012 and the 2014 DVD WARRIORS OF THE ROAD – THE SAXON CHRONICLES PT 2.
Unlike other acts, Saxon has actually been active since the release of their debut album SAXON back in 1979. Not many bands can beat Saxon’s history thanks to Byford and Quinn who’ve kept the fire burning in the Saxon locomotive. When they had a day off, Saxon sneaked in a solo show at Kulturbolaget in Malmo and Dirty Passion, who have been support act to Saxon on earlier shows here in the southern parts of Sweden, hooked up for another opening show. Dirty Passion was supposed to take a break, but the band decided to open for Saxon before a break. Dirty Passion was never a band of choice for me, but I have seen them open a few times for acts like Electric Boys to mention one. As always, all of the Saxon members were nice and friendly when me and my friend met up with them earlier during the day and it was nice to once again meet my childhood heroes.
Because my friend was a bit late, we arrived to the club after the doors had opened and the club were pretty jammed with Saxon fans. Saxon is one of those rare bands that gains new and younger fans from year to year and there was a mixed audience here to see the band. Luckily, the time went pretty fast and shortly it was time for the opening act to kick off the night. Since Dirty Passion is a local band, they had a lot of fans and family at the club supporting them.
The band fired off two songs after which singer/guitarist Kriss thanked the crowd for the support and said that “we are Dirty Passion and we’re here to play some music for you all”. The crowd was pretty calm and clapped their hands when Kriss said it was time to play the first single from the latest album. Nothing much happened on the stage and the members mostly stood put on their places. Both lights and sound worked pretty good but the bands hardrock/sleaze music has never appealed to me to be honest and I saw that a few people shared my opinion and walked over to the bar and took a beer instead of watching the show. Dirty Passion is:
Kriss – lead vocals, guitar
Chrisse – guitar
Nasty – bass
Mike – drums
The next song Kriss said was about girls and how you would do anything for them until you get your heart ripped out and stomped on. “Bitch” was the appropriate name of the song and Kriss had the audience clap their hands with the music. “The Shame” followed and Kriss asked if the fans was ready for Saxon, and that woke the crowd up. The band had one more song to play, and Kriss said this was the last show the band had before a break and he wanted to thank everyone who had helped out the band through the years. He named several people that in some way had helped out the band and said that it was the perfect way of ending as support to Saxon at Kulturbolaget.
The last song was “Daughter Of the Reaper” and Kriss invited the audience to sing with him. I think the bands music always have been pretty anonymous and bland, and think that Kriss is not a very colorful front man at all. The sing-along didn’t go too well as the band had to silence the music in order to hear people singing. The farewell show lasted 30 long minutes and the show was nothing extraordinary. The band delivered, as expected, some pretty boring music, well executed, but not my cup of tea. The bands biggest problem is lead singer Kriss who is too weak of a singer and his voice can’t carry the music at all.
The club was now almost packed with fans waiting to see Saxon and I could see both older hardcore fans as well as younger fans. A big backdrop hung behind the drums and on each side stood huge marshall amps on top of each other and on top of those there were spotlights placed. It was a really nice looking set that Saxon had brought with them. It took a while for the crew to prep the stage and the fans started to get a bit anxious. At 9pm the PA played “It’s A Long Way To The Top (if you wanna rock n roll)” by AC/DC and the club went dark, finally it was time to see Saxon live again.
The members showed up during the second intro and the first song out was the first single from the new album “Battering Ram”. Byford headbanged like a maniac and the fans followed his lead. There was no time for the audience to catch their breath as the show continued straight away with the monumental “Motorcycle Man” which made the fans go crazy. Byford didn’t have to do much to get the crowd going and he totally owned the stage with his majestic presence. It’s not bad for a 64 year old frontman to keep up the pace that Byford always has during a show, it’s impressive for sure. As everyone knows Saxon is:
Biff Byford – lead vocals
Paul Quinn – guitar
Nigel Glockler – drums
Nibbs Carter – bass
Doug Scarratt – guitar
Byford thanked the fans and said that so many had turned up despite the show being planned with short notice. The 4 smoke machines at the edge of the stage blew smoke during “Sacrifice” and even though the song is pretty new the fans sang along with Byford through it. Byford said the band has a new album out called BATTERING RAM, and that it went straight to number one on the Swedish album hard rock/metal charts. This brought down huge applause from the audience. Byford said the album was only number one for 1 or 2 weeks and laughed. “Destroyer” from BATTERING RAM continued the show and it was already now a bit hot inside the club. A constant cloud of smoke hoovered above the stage as Byford shouted at the fans to scream at his command. Fans did as they were told and the band seemed to be really happy with the response. Needless to say, Saxon totally ran over Dirty Passion, but what could be expected?!
So it was time for some older tunes in “Power And The Glory” and “20 000 ft”. Byford stood, as always, in the middle of the stage with the rest of the band on his sides, when it was time for a solo the guitarists took a step forward and Byford took a step back to let the the solo player stand in focus.
Quinn stood a lot on his monitors and it looked quite hazardous for a man of his age, it felt like he was going to fall down. The fans shouted the band’s name and Byford took something to drink and said that it was time to stay put in the 80’s with the next song that is claimed to be a trendsetter for thrash metal in “20 000 Ft”. Byford said, “they say that Saxon invented thrash metal but I’m not sure of that”.
Scarratt, Quinn and Byford walked out on to the ramp in the middle of the song and the four smoke machines that was placed at the edge of the stage shot smoke straight up to the roof. The song ended and another intro came out from the PA’s and the band went of the stage.
“The Devils Footprint” continued the show as the members all came out again and everyone on stage was now really sweaty and the same went for the crowd. Byford said the song was about an old English legend, and asked if fans wanted to hear a slow or a fast song – but it was hard to hear what the crowd was shouting for. Well, Byford said, “sing with me and fill you head with “Heavy Metal Thunder””. All four frontmen stood at the edge of the stage in order to get closer to the crowd and the smoke machines once again went off. Byford let the fans sing the end of the song and later thanked for the support. The new song “Eye of The Storm” followed and even though the crowd felt a bit reluctant towards the new songs, they supported the band regardless.
I thought it was refreshing and new to hear a little varied set list and a few other songs along with the classic tunes the band always plays. “I have to take a look at Doug’s set list to see which song we are about to play” Byford said and told the fans they could choose if the band should play “The Eagle Has Landed” or “Broken Heroes”, he couldn’t hear which song the fans shouted the most for and decided to play both but first he thanked Dirty Passion for opening for them. Biff said, “In the first song we have Paul on guitar, and on the next we have Doug.” Personally I think that “The Eagle Has Landed” is one of the band’s more boring songs, and can’t understand why they insist on playing it live. Not much happens in the song and it’s a real showstopper. “Broken Heroes” followed instantly and Doug Scarratt took on the lead guitar parts. The song is a forgotten classic tune and it was nice to hear the boys dust off the old song. And by the loud sing-along, it wasn’t only me that loved to hear “Broken Heroes”. Byford said he thought the crowd was amazing and looked really pleased, the next song is a new one he said and fired off “Queen Of Hearts”.
It felt like the band and the fans were in absolute symbiosis when it was time to travel back in time to 2004 and “Battalions Of Steel”. Byford asked if the fans were tired yet because if they were the band could stop playing early and leave for Norway which was where they were going to perform next. The fans shouted “NO” and yelled for songs they wanted to hear. Byford couldn’t hear what they were shouting for but he heard one person shouting for “Power And The Glory” and said “that song has already been played, weren’t you here then?” and laughed. He asked if the fans thought they should play “Never Surrender” or “The Band Played On” but the fans shouted for “Crusader” and the band played the intro and Byford wanted the fans to sing a long with him. It felt like this song was one of the songs the fans had been waiting for and they literally exploded with joy when they heard the first notes of the piece.
Something that struck me was that the band seemed to be having a great time together on stage. They laughed and joked around and looked genuinely happy to be standing there. When the song was over, Byford said that the band really wanted to perform at Sweden Rock Festival and that the fans should make sure that the band could come there, “make it happen” he said. “The Band Played On” was dedicated to the festivals the band had been playing at, and Byford said it was fun to play that song again tonight because it had been a while since they last played it.
When Byford said the next song was about a railroad all of the fans knew what song to expect, and yes, it was “Princess Of the Night”. Again the four guys at the front went to the edge of the stage to connect closer with the fans and after the song was over Byford thanked the fans and the band went off the stage. The song ended 1h 20min of Saxon music but the fans wanted to hear more and wasn’t satisfied with that. After a few minutes Scarratt was the first member back on to the stage and he did a shorter solo that ended up in “Wheels Of Steel”. Byford asked if the fans wanted to sing with him and said that he wanted the Malmo fans to sing even louder than the Gothenburg fans had done the day before. He also asked if it was OK to film the fans while they were singing and took up a cellphone and filmed the fans, he said “great, I made it look like it was 20,000 crazy vikings inside the club.” He asked fans if they were aware that the band recorded the show and that made the fans scream even louder. Byford introduced Nigel Glockler and the song continued on, it ended up to be a really long version. A roadie came up to with a new set list but Byford tore the set list in pieces and told the roadie to come up to collect it to take it and go home. “Never Surrender” closed the first set of encores.
The fans still wanted to hear more, and Carter came on and did a bass solo that turned out to be the intro to “Strong Arm Of The Law”. Byford sang as great as always and I’m amazed by how in shape he has kept his voice during all these years. The rest of the band felt solid and like they had a really great time together. Their joy transcended on to the fans and made the club a melting pot of love. It was especially nice to see Quinn in such a good mood, even though Scarratt took care of most the lead guitar parts Quinn felt solid and glad to be on stage.
Byford thanked fans for coming to see them on a Wednesday and said: “See you at Sweden Rock, Wacken or something like that. The next song is dedicated to anyone who has passion for music, it’s the music that keeps us alive right?!” “Denim And Leather” followed and the amazing crowd-pleaser ended the show. It’s one of my favorite songs and I’m glad they ended with such a brilliant choice of tune. Byford introduced the band and the one who brought down the most applause were Paul Quinn, the song got extended with all the sing a long parts and the introduction of the band but I didn’t mind, the longer a Saxon show is, the better. Byford told the fans to continue doing what they were doing and thanked them once again for coming to the show. That ended a sweaty 1h 50 minutes of pure and genuine British heavy metal music.
The show was brilliant and I’m honored to have once again seen the majestic Saxon live on stage. I’ve seen them more times than I can count by now but I’m hoping to see them many many more times in the future. The guys felt solid and it felt like they had a really great time together on the stage and there were no sign of any remote tiredness amongst anyone. It was a brilliant piece of set list and I’m really happy they dusted off “Broken Heroes”. Saxon sure is warriors of the roads who books a show on their day off. Overall it was a brilliant and magic night that left nothing to complain about, I salute Saxon for bringing another epic show to Malmoe.
Note: after this was written, the world was struck by the sad passing of Lemmy. The hardrock/metal community mourns the loss of an icon, rest in peace Mr. Kilmister.
It’s A Long Way To The Top (if you wanna rock n roll) -intro 1 –
– intro 2 –
Power And The Glory
20 000 Ft
The Devil’s Footprint
Heavy Metal Thunder
Eye Of the Storm
The Eagle Has Landed
Queen Of Hearts
Battalions Of Steel
And The Band Played On
Princess Of The Night
Wheels Of Steel
Strong Arm Of The Law
Denim And Leather
Thanks to Totte Lundgren head at Kulturbolaget for help with press/photo pass to the show.
Thanks to the always friendly staff and security at the club.