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SAXON/DORO Manchester Academy 2, 3 May 2009
Photo: Ian Pollard
Rock. Says it all really. But first, Doro. According to her PR Mike
Exley, the German metal high priestess took a little persuading to join
the Saxon men on their tour. She really shouldn't have worried.
Unfortunately, because of the dreaded curfew and the inclusion of another
band, Sweet Savage, who I suspect were seen only by their roadie and his
friend, Doro performed a thirty-minute set. For someone of her
stature and quality this was a bit of a travesty. However, I think all
bands should be given just half an hour occasionally - it really provides
a focus and there is no room for waste or excess.
Criminally, we only heard a couple of tracks from the excellent current
album 'Fear No Evil' ('The Night Of The Warlock', 'Celebrate') but as a
taster for the band's music this set delivered in spades, with a trawl
through some of the Doro standards such as 'Burning The Witches', 'Breaking The
Law' and 'All We Are'. Let's hope she returns as headliner sooner than
Saxon. On a roll, on a mission and nearly through with their UK
tour. Fresh from his appearance in Paris on stage with Metallica, it's
time to re-evaluate Biff and the Band especially on the back of an
excellent new album and spate of reissues. The Saxon star, or cross(?), is
in its ascendancy again.
This was the best gig of the year so far, aided by an engaging frontman
('no make up, just sweat and metal') and a back catalogue most bands would
give their tattooed right arm for. They were also as tight as a sealed
boxed set with Paul Quinn's soloing more in evidence trading off the
excellent Doug Scarratt and a rock-hard rhythm section of Nigel Glockler
and Nibbs Carter.
Starting with 'Batallions Of Steel', 'Heavy Metal Thunder' and 'Demon
Sweeney Todd' the band proceeded to plunder their treasure producing such
wonderful artefacts as 'And The Bands Played On', and a superb 'Crusader'.
They even included the seldom-aired old single 'Ride Like The Wind' as
well as 'Never Surrender', 'Wheels Of Steel' and 'Motorcycle Man'.
You really couldn't fault the set-list, with some flexibility in the
choice of either 'Dallas 1PM' and 'Power And The Glory'. They played them
both. This ability to mix and match is admirable and, really, this is a
band totally in touch with their audience.
'Live To Rock' (one of the best rock anthems of the year so far) came too
late in the set (it was the first encore) and the choice of material from
'Labyrinth' didn't really do it for me. Understandably, the band may have
chosen those songs they thought would work best live but 'Valley Of The
Kings' strangely fell short of the mark and 'Hellcat' even more so. Where
was the dramatic 'Voice', 'Crime Of Passion', 'Protect Yourself' and 'Come
Rock of Ages'?
Not to worry, the encores were something else again, with a miniature
greatest hits spearheaded by the truly magnificent 747 Strangers in The
Night (one of THE greatest ever four minute heavy rock songs) and topped
with 'Denim And Leather'.
more than any other band in this genre, Saxon deliver on all fronts.
Easily parodied perhaps, but I think it is Saxon who have the last laugh.
Their songs are durable, dramatic when necessary, and they give renewed
life to the noble art of headbanging. Biff even implored original member
Paul Quinn - at the start of a rampant 'Princess Of The Night' - to
'Assume The Position'...
As Biff noted, it was great to see a real cross-generation capacity crowd
in a very sweaty Academy 2. Live To Rock? Thank the Lord he didn't become
a teacher or a preacher.
Review by David
Randall presents 'Assume The Position' every Sunday 22:00 (repeated Friday
22:00) on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio
for more information.
Biff Byford interview
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