Saxon @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

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SAXON / SCARS OF ARMAGEDDON / PIPE / SHOKKER

Date: 01st April, 2018
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$25 / €20
Promoter: Empire Productions


Sure, I felt full of confidence after attending two Metal concerts on the same day that the next day would be up and running without feeling any fatigue at all. The reality was a bit different and I was a bit grumpy on Easter day, so going to another concert suddenly sounded a bit too much... However, this was not a typical concert as SAXON were to play at the small club of Reggies and no one who is in the right Metal mind would say ‘no’, come hell of high water. As I’ve said many times in the past, SAXON is the best live band, and despite the decades on the lineup’s shoulders, these Brits are still touring and making records. So, while being on the US tour opening for JUDAS PRIEST, they are filling their free days with headlining shows whenever it is possible. How many bands can claim that they have the balls and energy to do this? How many bands can switch from huge arenas to small clubs and perform with the same (if not with more) energy and passion? Unfortunately, this list is short but has SAXON’s name there, and this show was meant to be an undisputed proof for those who didn’t know or believe. And to make things tougher for SAXON, the show was on Catholics’ Easter, so there were some doubts of how Reggies would look like...

Ha, the venue was packed as SCARS OF ARMAGEDDON were wrapping up their set and it was a bit difficult finding our way to the front and get a good photo-shooting spot. Yeah, SAXON have a strong fanbase in Chicago and considering that the JUDAS PRIEST tour does not stop closer than Indiana, Reggies was the only chance to get to see this hardworking band live. But it was more than this; seeing this band on an intimate setting was about to be the first time for both of us and I’d need more than my hand fingers to count the SAXON shows I have been at.

For whatever the reason, the Reggies stage looked larger and I guess this had to do with the drum riser and the way the PAs had been tucked away in the back. Add to this the huge SAXON banner in the back and you may feel the level of excitement everyone inside the venue shared. Although the age mix was in favor of the old-schoolers, there was a significant number of young faces in the front lines, giving us a sense of hope that Metal has some fresh blood running inside its veins.

The moment the lights went out, the excitement sky-rocketed for the first times with the taped intro “Olympus Rising” blasting off the speakers with impressive volume and clarity. And then, the forever-young SAXON stormed the stage as if it was the first day of the tour. As it usually happens, SAXON opened the set with the first song of the latest album and that meant “Thunderbolt”, and I was surprised that it was welcomed with cheers. I guess, the SAXON fanbase of Chicago is not only into the classics, and the same happened for “Sacrifice”. No matter how many times I have seen this band live, I am still amazed by Biff’s energy, singing and performing wise. Seriously, having him on a spitting distance and looking his face turning red as he was hitting the high notes with impressive power, was a jaw-dropping moment for sure. As always, on stage left, Nibbs Carter looked like he had Nitro with dynamites for breakfast and had skipped the warming up period. “It is good to be back in Chicago! This is a headlining show, so we can play as long as we want”, said Biff and he sounded honest as your best friend. The mid-tempo “Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)” came out better than in the record and once again reminded me how much I appreciate SAXON for playing lots of new songs supporting their song-writing and not just sit on the oldies and definitely hits. Speaking of oldies, Biff introduced the next one by mentioning 1980 in England and made it obvious to the seasoned metalheads that it was time to turn the heat up with “Motorcycle Man”. Oh my, listening Biff whistling sent shivers done my spine as it has done so many times in the past. Yeah, we were gathering some serious momentum with the jumping up and down “Strong Arm Of The Law” and newer “Battering Ram” adding a bit more. The “stop, get out” singing-along was one of the many awesome moments of the set. “Are you feeling fit? This is going to be a long show”, Biff warned us but really it was what we needed with “Power And The Glory” rightfully making us “raise our glasses high” but not for power or glory, but for the mighty SAXON.

Two more new ones got their spot on the set and I liked them both for different reasons; “Sniper” is on the heavy and fast side, while “The Secret Of Flight” showcases SAXON’s storytelling song-writing that is so awesome live. During “Dallas 1 PM”, Paul Quinn seemed to be struggling and needed some help, but as Biff told everyone, it was not for technical reasons; Paul had cut his finger and by the amount of blood on his hands it didn’t look like a librarian’s paper-cut... Still, he never left the stage and after a bush fix with lots of ice involved, he kept the show going with “Never Surrender” sounding the most proper way to underline his dedication.

In case you don’t know it, in “Predator” AMON AMARTH’s Johan Hegg is guest-growling and since this song was included in the set, I was expecting to hear some pre-recorded parts… Well, not for SAXON, and if I am not terribly mistaken, it was Nibbs Carter doing all the growls, so additional kudos to the restless bassist. There were far too many hair-rising moments, and mentioning MOTÖRHEAD was definitely one of those. But it was not done in a cheesy way with Biff mentioning the first tour with the Rock ‘n’ Roll legends before letting “They Played Rock And Roll” do the rest. Hearing Lemmy’s voice blasting off the PAs one more time was a powerful moment, surfacing strange emotions for a Metal concert...

As (I) expected, SAXON kept going on without any signs of slowing down and I think the audience followed up their lead with “And The Bands Played On” and “Crusader” seeing a powerful participation by the Chicagoans. “What a fine audience!”, acknowledged Biff and then he mover closer to Paul, hinting it was time for “Princess Of The Night”. Even if I know how this goes down, it gives me the goosebumps each and every time, and yes, my voice was shot... The long encore Biff mentioned was including “Heavy Metal Thunder” and “Wheels Of Steell” topped off by the mighty “Denim And Leather”. Yeah, it was you that set the spirit free, SAXON!

SAXON keep the flame burning and are working harder than ever, supporting their music as if it is the ‘80s. And this, my friends, should be the first and only chapter on the “How To Be On A Metal Band For Dummies” book because there are many instances where veteran bands have forgotten that it’s all about the music and not about themselves.

“Denim and Leather
Brought us all together
It was you that set the spirit free”

 

SAXON setlist:

01. “Olympus Rising” (taped intro)
02. “Thunderbolt”
03. “Sacrifice”
04. “Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)”
05. “Motorcycle Man”
06. “Strong Arm Of The Law”
07. “Battering Ram”
08. “Power And The Glory”
09. “Sniper”
10. “The Secret Of Flight”
11. “Dallas 1 PM”
12. “Never Surrender”
13. “Predator”
14. “They Played Rock And Roll”
15. “And The Bands Played On”
16. “747 (Strangers In The Night)”
17. “Sons Of Odin”
18. “Crusader”
19. “Princess Of The Night”
20. “Heavy Metal Thunder”
21. “Wheels Of Steel”
22. “Denim And Leather”

SAXON

Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Saxon @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)