Archive for the ‘Saxon’ Category

Monsters of Rock Donington Status Quo 21st August 1982

Monsters of Rock Donington Status Quo 21st August 1982
Line-up: Status Quo, Gillan, Saxon, Hawkwind, Uriah Heep and Anvil
quoknebworthThis was the third Monsters of Rock festival, and the second time I went to the event. I drove down with my mate Dave, and we had a great time. It was a strong line-up of hard rock bands with Status Quo topping the bill, and a clutch of great support acts in Gillan, Saxon, Hawkwind, Uriah Heep and Anvil. Tommy Vance was DJ and compere for the day. Highlights for me were Hawkwind, Uriah Heep and Quo. Saxon were quite successful at the time and represented the NWOBHM, and Gillan seemed to gig constantly during that period, and was always good fun, playing a few Purple classics alongside his own material.quodoningtonUriah Heep were fronted by new(ish) singer Pete Goalby, alongside long time Heepsters Mick Box, and Lee Kerslake. Their set included classic tracks like Stealin’, The Wizard, July Morning, Gypsy and Easy Livin’. It seemed strange to me to see them so low down on the bill. Both Heep and Hawkwind would have had headline status a few years earlier. Hawkwind’s set feautured Brainstorm, Angels of Death, Urban Guerilla, Psychedelic Warlords, and of course Silver Machine and Master Of the Universe. Their ever-changing line-up at this time included Dave Brock, Huw Lloyd Langton, Harvey Bainbridge and Nik Turner. Both great bands. But the day rightly belonged to Quo, who were worthy headliners. We pushed our way right down the front for their set. This show is often rated as not one of Quo’s best, but I enjoyed seeing them headlining a festival again, and thought they were pretty good. There were some problems with the sounds, with some parts of the crowd reporting that they couldn’t hear Quo very well, but I think this depended on where you were placed in the field. This was the first time I saw the band with Pete Kircher who replaced John Coughlan on drums. Quo were celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band.
Status Quo setlist: Caroline; Roll Over Lay Down; Backwater; Little Lady; Don´t Drive My Car; Whatever You Want; Hold You Back; Rockin All Over The World; Over The Edge; What You´re Proposing; Dirty Water; 4500 Times; Big Fat Mama; Don´t Waste My Time; Roadhouse Blues; Rain; Down Down; Bye Bye Johnny.

Saxon Newcastle City Hall 1980, 1981 and 1982

Saxon Newcastle City Hall 1980, 1981 and 1982
saxontixsI saw Saxon on three more occasions at Newcastle City Hall. The first was on 1th December 1980 on the “Strong Arm of the Law” tour. From the programme: “Hi there , this is Biff writing a few lines to tell you what’s happened since we last saw you. As you may know “Wheels of Steel” went silver and I was very proud to receive my silver disc. We are now becoming successful in other countries round the world and we owe all this to you, our British fans. I hope you like the new album and tour..Have a listen to “Heavy Metal Thunder” – it’s dedicated to YOU!”. I’ve just done as Biff suggested and watched a clip of Saxon playing “Heavy Metal Thunder” live at the time. Biff plays the rock star part to a T, long locks flailing about, and great silver spandex trousers. A solid slab of heavy metal rock. “Strong Arm of The Law” was Saxon’s third studio and was released only four months after “Wheels of Steel” charted at No. 11; these guys were on a roll. The song I remember most from the new album, and which I enjoyed seeing them play live was “Dallas 1 PM”, which was written about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Support on the tour was Limelight, a rock band from Mansfield. Limelight had a strong following in the North East clubs at the time. saxonprogs82The next time I saw Saxon was on 21st October 1981. This was the “Denim and Leather tour”. Denim and Leather was their fourth studio album, released in 1981 and was the last album with the classic line, as drummer Pete Gill left the band due to a hand injury. It is also seen as the last of their three classic albums (along with Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law). Following its release Saxon stopped making albums for over a year, and concentrated on looking for success in the USA. Support came from American heavy rock band Riot. From the programme” “Denim and Leather. The two words were made from each. Like bread and butter. Salt and pepper. Gin and topic. Simmons and Stanley. They fit together as snug and neat as an expertly carpentered mortice and tenon joint. They roll over the tongue with ease, like the phrase “And incidentally music lovers” from Fluff Freeman’s lips. And they’re destined to become as much a part of heavy metal’s frenzied folklore as the expressions “mayhem merchant”, “titanic powerchord” and “flashbomb fever”. [Yeah, terms I use every day 🙂 ]. Denim and leather are old friends. And the older, more frayed, scraped, battered and tattered the better. Combined, the two materials make up a uniform to be reckoned with, a Kerrang! kostume more meaningful then the DM’s and Sta-Prest of the cropped-tops; more relevant that the tablecloths and Jolly Rogers….of the ephemeral futurists. Look at the Hammersmith hordes. The multitudinous Mancunians. Cower before the Bristil Battalion. The Glasgow garrison. There’s an army out there and the battledress is the same. Leather jacket, studded, patched with motorcycle brand names, once dark and supple, now cracked and turning brown. Or denim jacket, embroidered, faded, grubby, stiff and stained with the sweat of 100 hothouse holocausts. And the jeans, greasy with engine oil, wearing through all the knees, ill-fitting and overlong…..Heavy Metal, after all, is a mass experience, an enjoyment to be shared, not selfishly guarded, not confined to bleak bedsit seclusion…Some people will never understand but we relish being..An army of thousands surrounded by lights. And we have the power to proclaim that…Nobody stands in our way!” Apologies for reproducing so much from the programme here, but I feel that it sums up the mood of the time, and is very much “of the period”. saxonprog81Saxon were back at the City Hall on 17th September 1982. There was no new studio album to promote, but they had just released a live album “The Eagle has Landed” which was also the title of the tour. The cover of the tour programme shows Biff standing victorious on the Donington stage, facing a massive crowd of denim and leather, the famous tyre in the background. Support for the 1982 tour were Cheetah, a rock band fronted by two girl vocalists. The live albums contains the following tracks, which give a feel for Saxon concert sets at the time: Motorcycle Man; 747 (Strangers in the Night); Princess of the Night; Strong Arm of the Law; Heavy Metal Thunder; 20,000 Ft.; Wheels of Steel; Never Surrender; Fire in the Sky; Machine Gun; And the Bands Played On; See the Light Shining; Frozen Rainbow; Midnight Rider; Dallas 1PM; Hungry Years.
Part of the attraction of Saxon was the working class, Northern, nature and work ethic of these guys. They were living the dream, living their life through rock, and using as an escape from the pits and the factories which may otherwise have been their future. This was, I am sure, part of the reason they were so successful in the North East. The audience identified with them, it was as if they were looking at themselves on stage, and living out their fantasies and dreams through Biff and the guys.
I saw Saxon once or twice more at Monsters of Rock festival, but haven’t seem them again since those days. They continue to gig and have recently returned to the public eye, in part due to a TV programme in which Harvey Goldsmith helped them relaunch their career.
Another one for my ever-growing list of bands to see again, at least once more.
PS Just noticed that I was pretty close down front for all these gigs. That explains why my hearing is starting to fail these days….Has anyone ever taken a case against a group of bands for hearing loss ? 🙂
PPS Another memory entered my head today. I recall seeing Saxon play at West Cornforth (Doggy) club one night, it must have been in 1979. I think they were still billed as Son of a Bitch, but had changed their name to Saxon by the time they played the gig. They were awesome (and LOUD) in a small workingmens’ club. I still don’t know why they call West Cornforth “Doggy” 🙂

Saxon “Wheels of Steel” Newcastle City Hall 21st April 1980

Saxon “Wheels of Steel” Newcastle City Hall 21st April 1980
saxon80tixFrom the 1980 tour programme:
“Saxon. The name immediately conjures up visions of swashbuckling macho men who rape and pillage at every opportunity. Well, Saxon the band may not rape, but if anybody’s ever been to one of their concerts then they will know that the pillage bit is not that far from the truth. They’re the archetypal getcha rocks off head down no nonsense (mindless?) boogie band, hitting harder than a punch in the gut with a slab of concrete.”
Get the idea? Very much of its time and some of the language certainly wouldn’t seem acceptable these days. But this was the era of the dawn of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) and Saxon came along riding high from deepest Yorkshire (Barnsley to be precise) with their brand of heavy rock.
I first saw Saxon when they were called Son of a Bitch and played regularly in a “before the match” spot at the Boliermakers club. It was obvious then that these guys were a pretty tight rock band and they built up their own following in the North East clubs. Some of my mates were pretty heavily into them at the time. The next thing we knew; they had rebranded themselves as Saxon and were appearing as support for major bands, such as Motorhead. saxonprog80Then they hit the big time, and were appearing on Top of the Pops playing “Wheels of Steel”. This all happened quite quickly. I remember going along to the City Hall gig, which was part of their first major tour, and wondering how many people would be there. It was pretty full, as a I recall, and Saxon delivered a solid set of heavy metal rock’n’roll. There are some damn fine rock tunes on the “Wheels of Steel” album including, as well as the title track, “747 (Strangers in the Night)”, which was a favourite of mine at the time, and “Suzie Hold On”. “Wheels of Steel” was Saxon’s second album and is recognised as their best work. It received positive reviews at the time; Eduardo Rivadavia said: “the album’s songs positively gleam with a bright, metallic sheen similar to that exhibited by the chrome eagle hoisting a motorcycle wheel on its iconic cover.” Support for the City Hall show was heavy rock band Lautrec.
Saxon were, at the time: Biff Byford (vocals, big hair, leather jacket and lycra trousers); Graham Oliver (guitar); Paul Quinn (guitar); Steve Dawson (bass); and Pete Gill (drums). I remember one of the guitarists had his guitar attached to his belt buckle and would spin it around and around, which looked pretty impressive. Biff was the main man, however, and had good rapport with the North East crowds who warmed to his Yorkshire humour.
Setlist: Motorcycle Man; Still Fit to Boogie; Freeway Mad; Backs to the Wall; 747 (Strangers in the Night); Rainbow Theme; Frozen Rainbow; Wheels of Steel; See the Light Shining; Judgement Day; Bap Shoo Ap; Street Fighting Gang; Stallions of the Highway; Suzie Hold On; Stand Up and Be Counted; Machine Gun.
“When my foots on the throttle there’s no looking back, I leave the motor tickin’ over when she’s back on the track, I’ve got a 68 Chevy with pipes on the side, You know she’s my idea of beauty, that’s what I drive. She’s got wheels, wheels of steel!…(Wheels of Steel, Saxon, 1980)

Motorhead Newcastle City Hall and Reading 1979

Motorhead Newcastle City Hall 1979
motormarch79tix1979 was a busy year for Motorhead. Lemmy and crew released two albums, headlined two UK tours, appeared on Top of the Pops, and played at the Reading Festival. The year started with the release of the “Overkill” album, and a March tour of the UK, with support from Girlschool. I saw the Newcastle City Hall gig, which was a great double bill and both bands put in a rocking performance. Come August, and Motorhead were third on the Friday night bill at Reading, sandwiched between performances by Wilko Johnson and The Tourists. The Friday night was headlined by The Police. Motorhead played well and got a great reception from the crowd. Reading that year had a strange line-up, which tried to mix up-and-coming new wave acts with more established rock bands. This caused a split crowd, and lots of can fights. Motorhead were one of the few bands who both camps were “allowed” to like, and this resulted in their performance being one of the successes of the weekend.motorheadnov79tix Motorhead released the “Bomber” album later in the year, and toured again to promote it. This time they had another great rock band of the day, Saxon, as support, and they called at Newcastle City Hall in November. The Bomber tour featured a massive “Bomber” plane lighting rig hanging over the band and going through its manoeuvres while they played. Great stuff. Motorhead were really at the top of their game during this period, and just couldn’t be beaten for a loud, fun night out.
MotorheadBomber A typical setlist from a late 1979 Motorhead gig: Overkill; Stay Clean; No Class; All the Aces; Metropolis; I’ll Be Your Sister; Dead Men Tell No Tales; Keep Us on the Road; Iron Horse/Born to Lose; Stone Dead Forever; Lawman; (I Won’t) Pay Your Price; Poison; Leaving Here; Capricorn; Train Kept A-Rollin’; Bomber. Encore: Limb from Limb; White Line Fever; Motörhead
“Only way to feel the noise is when it’s good and loud, So good I can’t believe it screaming with the crowd, Don’t sweat it, get it back to you, Overkill, Overkill, Overkill…On your feet you feel the beat, it goes straight to your spine, Shake your head you must be dead if it don’t make you fly, Don’t sweat it, get it back to you, Overkill, Overkill, Overkill.” (Overkill, Motorhead, 1979)