Three live reports of the same band in one year doesn’t happen that often. It’s British metal pioneers Saxon that scored such a record on Markus’ Heavy Music Blog. It was in February this year when Saxon played a show at 013 in Tilburg, followed by a headliner show at this years Rock Hard Festival. Since the best things come in threes I also went to Utrecht to report of the show at TivoliVredenburg.
But before Saxon enters the stage Raven starts into the night with a powerful set, fully in the spirit of the NWoBHM. Mark and John Gallagher started in 1974, which means that they are the ones being the longest in the business of this triple package line-up. Since 2018 it’s Mike Heller that supplies Raven with a dynamic heartbeat, something Raven needs for their songs and show. Being the opening act means that you have to make choices when it comes to the setlist. Raven plays six songs, covering the entire history. The trio starts with ‘Destroy All Monsters’ into their set and fans are on fire from the first tone played. It feels like stepping into a time machine since Raven takes fans back to 1981 with ‘Hell Patrol’, taken from the debut. With ‘Top of the Mountain’ an entirely new song is unveiled too and it’s very welcomed by fans. What’s at least as great as the songs is the ‘Raven-madness’ on stage. The Gallagher brothers live rock’n’roll and regardless of their age, the two guys are all over the place during this 30 minutes set. None of them ever stands still and the great metal postures do their part to lift a good show to a great one. What a metal tornado as a starter.
The slot for the second support originally went to Y&T who unfortunately could join the tour due to health issues of Dave Meniketti. Instead of enjoying the legendary hardrocker from San Francisco, CA it is British AOR rockers FM that filled the gap. FM’s music slightly differs from Raven and Saxon. These five guys are more into hardrock and melodic rock, although the quintet sounds heavier on stage than what you know from listening to their albums. Compared with Raven’s metal storm, FM brings great melodies and hooks to Utrecht. The quintet takes fans back to the debut days in 1986 with hits like ‘That Girl’ and also new melodic rockers, taken from the latest album ‘Atomic Generation’, added to a metal party that is heading towards its peak.
Already while Raven and FM perform you can’t miss who’s headliner that night. A Saxon banner covers bigger parts of the stage. Saxon starts at 21:00 and the entire scenery, incl. walls of Marshall amps and ramps is revealed. Biff Byford, Paul Quinn, Nigel Glockler, Nibbs Carter and Doug Scarratt are known for a powerful and professional show with a setlist that comprises of metal anthems like ‘Princess of the Night’ and ‘Denim and Leather’.
The setlist doesn’t deviate a lot of what the legendary quintet played in Tilburg earlier this year. As not expected different it is the powerful ‘Thunderbolt’ that kicks of an almost two-hour show and makes fans go bonkers right away. ‘Sons of Odin’ and ‘The Eagle has Landed’ are two added songs to the setlist and it’s the anthemic ‘Solid Ball of Rock’ works perfectly that night. Fans were all in right from the start of the show, but it was the mentioned ‘Solid Ball of Rock’ that lifted the bar even higher. Sing-a-long parts with fans showed the close proximity of band and fans, with Biff Byford being the down-to-earth metal pioneer that never loses contact with the crowd. Short speeches between the metal classics add an extra entertainment factor to the show, moments when Byford talk about the working class in the pit and the fans on the balcony having “cars, wallpapers and a toilet inside the house”, all with a twinkle in the eye.
Saxon is real metal when it comes to music and spirit. These five guys have metal in their veins and in contrary to other pioneers in metal, Saxon doesn’t merely need to build their show around old classics, songs everybody wants to listen to anyhow. Saxon can also score with new hymns like ‘Thunderbolt’ and ‘Sons of Odin’, which are as good as the classics. As not expected differently, Saxon’s show in Utrecht was a ‘heavy metal thunder’ and this fact will hopefully continue for many more years.
- Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
- Motorcycle Man
- Strong Arm of the Law
- Battering Ram
- Power and the Glory
- Solid Ball of Rock
- The Secret of Flight
- Dallas 1PM
- They Played Rock and Roll
- And the Bands Played On
- 20,000 Ft.
- 747 (Strangers in the Night)
- Sons of Odin
- Princess of the Night
- The Eagle Has Landed (Encore)
- Heavy Metal Thunder (Encore)
- Wheels of Steel (Encore)
- Denim and Leather (Encore)
Location: TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Date: October 16th, 2018