Saxon in Concert

at King Tuts Wah Wah Hut Glasgow 5th October 04

'What on earth are we doing here?'

Anthemic Stadium Metal Kings Saxon's roadies turned up in Glasgow, and examined the tiny room they had booked. 'Shall we install the drum riser?' 'Best not, since it's bigger than the whole stage...'

So 230 sweaty Scots (and 2 slightly intimidated Sassenachs) welcomed a slick and adaptable band to its premium postage stamp, while Ibrox stood cold and dark. But once they had worked out how to get by with less than a third of their stage gear, and practically none of their lighting and effects rig, Saxon ripped onto a tiny plinth and huddled together to avoid shoving Quinn or Carter into the wings.

Their glorious new album Lionheart was strongly featured (especially the excellent 'Man & Machine'), but 'Motorcyle Man', 'Denim & Leather', '747' and the knock-em-dead after more than 2 hours of head-banging 'Wheels of Steel' were all present and extremely correct.

The thinking-man's heavy rock, Saxon avoid corny HM occultic themes most of the time, and concentrate on manliness and self-parody. No love songs, no mention even of women (precious few women in the crowd - I saw three, and I was counting), no dark ouija-board inspired numbers, either. But long grey hair and seventies posturing (foot up on the monitor, hand in the air, flinging handfuls of picks at the crowd) were strongly in evidence. Nibbs' 'Timotei-advert' impression flung many pints of hot sweat over the left half of the audience, while Biff ripped his throat out producing banshee-wails and crowd-pleasing comparisons between Wolverhampton and bonnie Scotland.

Obviously, unfailing skill and style exuded from the dancing Scarratt fingers; his Valley Arts screaming in response. Chugging, wailing, chugging, Big Finish. Next song: Chugging, wailing, chugging, Big Finish. Over and over. But every solo was packed with excitement, adventure, a depth of choice which informed each selection.

I was looking forward to a great light show (not possible with only 16 lamps!) and a big sound (not possible with a small PA) but what we got was so much better than a far-away hero-worshipping stadium show. The crowd took as much part in this event as did the band, and that made the evening feel intimate, rewarding, generous, friendly and very happy indeed. Long may you rock.