Monday, May 14, 2012

SAXON: "HEavy Metal Thunder - Live"

Rating: N/A
Label: UDR/EMI 2012
Review by Alan Holloway

Surely one of the bands that sweats the essence of Heavy Metal, Saxon are a British institution who never stopped pushing forward, even in the bad old nineties, constantly tweaking and refining their sound, yet never selling out (although there was a bit of an airbrushed period, admittedly). As well all know, Germans love this sort of thing, and it’s no surprise that Biff Byford and the lads have played the glorious Wacken Open Air festival a few times. In a bit of a genius move, someone has had the bright idea of sticking on the best of their 2004, 2007 and 2009 shows on one DVD, which is jolly nice of them.

This has been released in a few different formats, but what we have is the most common, and serves up not only the 30 track DVD, but also a double CD with a further 24 tracks from Glasgow in 2011, meaning there’s a few tracks from their last, great album, “Call To Arms”. It should (and does) go without saying that the performances on both DVD and CD are exemplary. I’ve been watching Saxon live on and off for 28 years now, and I have never seen them put on a below par performance. They obviously love Wacken and all it entails, and the response shows that Wacken certainly loves them back. There’s no track doubling up at all, and the 30 songs perfectly reflect the band’s illustrious career, with something for fans of any era. The stage sets are bright and exciting, the camerawork swooping, the sound beefy and the band tight as damp leather trousers.

The CD’s do offer some of the same tracks as the DVD, but to be honest it’s not too much of a worry, and it’s also good to have something you can lob onto your iPod. Surprisingly, 9 of the tracks, (including “Princess Of The Night”, “Demon Sweeny Todd” and “Never Surrender” as well as tracks from the last album), are not on the DVD, so not only does it work as an additional source of material, it’s a great memento for anyone who saw the last tour.

“Heavy Metal Thunder - Live” is an absolute peach of a package, and old and new Saxon fans alike will find something for them. If you’re a lapsed fan who gave up in the 90s perhaps, then this is a great time to kickstart those fond memories and also get into some of the material you’ve missed.

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