Saxon , Thunderbolt Tour – Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, 10th November 2018

 In Live Events, Live Reviews

Saxon, once again roll into Nottingham with a night of good old-fashioned rock in mind. With new British rock band Wayward Sons and German rock legend Doro Pesch of Worlock fame firmly in tow it was a night with good old fashioned heavy rock in mind.

First up we have Toby Jepson’s latest offering, Wayward Sons. With having seen them live a few times now it came as no surprise to see them hit the stage hard. Toby Jepson’s superb voice is a hot knife through butter as he carves his way through opener ‘Alive’, also opening track on their current album ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ released last September. This is quickly followed by ’Ghost’ and ’Don’t Wanna Go’. With Nic Wastell charging around the stage like a Duracell bunny on steroids, (other batteries are available). It’s not unreasonable to wonder where this dynamite bass player gets his energy from.  Seemingly sponsored by Red Bull he is relentless all night. Flanked, on the other side, by blonde haired Sam Woods who is providing the lead to Jepson’s rhythm. Hot off a successful acoustic tour with the Amorettes voice, Gill Montgomery, Sam looked relaxed and smoking as he flashed through solo after solo with ease, his hair flicking in the air as he does so. Sat behind and banging out the beat on a brilliant red and yellow spiralled Ludwig kit is the faithful Phil Martini, dressed in a denim cut-off, looking every bit the love child of the late great Cozy Powel. Dave Kemp, on the other hand, stands behind his keyboard looking everything like Fred Dibnah’s love child, dressed in flat cap, black shirt, jeans and boots he blasts away at the keys, helping to give the Wayward Sons the big dynamic sound that fills the hall. A great opening set for the already gathered fans.

Next up we have German ‘Queen of Heavy Metal’, Doro.  With her new band racing onto the stage from both sides they are eventually joined by Doro and they’re straight into her explosive brand of European rock. Seemingly having drunk from the same glass as Wastell, she is racing around the stage energetically, hair flailing everywhere as she throws her head back and forth, clad in leather and lace with the trade mark gloves, the band is straight into ‘Earthshaker Rock’ from her days as Warlock’s front woman, from the’ Hellhound’ album of the mid 80’s.

Two further tracks from her Warlock days follow straight after, ‘I rule The Ruins’ and ‘Burning the Witches’. No Doro set would be complete without the crowd favourite ‘Fur Immer’ and tonight was no exception. A small, seemingly European contingent, help Doro sing this one as she runs around the stage, head banging, first with guitarist Bas Maas and then she’s at the crowd, foot on the monitor as she punches the air rhythmically as the band jam the end of the song.  Finishing the set off we have ‘All We Are’ another Warlock cover and then set closer,’ All for Metal’. A great, if short set by Doro, firmly embossing her style of rock on everybody’d forehead she leaves the stage making way for the mighty Saxon.

A brief respite while the RCH guys get the stage ready for tonights headliners Saxon. Having just released their twenty Second album, Thunderbolt’ , to their already impressive collection of British Heavy Metal albums. The first album, simply named ‘Saxon’ was released nearly 40years ago. In fact next year marks Saxons 40th Anniversary. Straight off we’re introduced to the opening self-named track ‘Thunderbolt’ this is a new Saxon, seemingly tighter and more like the early band, this see’s Quinn and Scarratt on it. A superb opener with guitars a plenty and Byford’s unique vocals piercing through the barrage provided by this rejuvenated band. Some would say that Biff has shown signs of being past his best but tonight he’s putting it to the doubters that if Carlsberg made rock singers he is perhaps one of the best rock voices out there. The crowd would seem to agree as they are on their feet shouting along to the hammering being thrown in their faces. Glockler’s drum kit, red and huge, is getting a pasting as he smashes his way around the kit putting drummer’s half his age to shame, a thundering sound is matched by Nibbs racing around with his Gibson Thunderbird bass, locked into Glockler as he thunders out the skull ripping bass line as he tries to shake his head off. What is it with bass players?? tonight we have two of the most energetic bass players I’ve seen in ages defying their age, you just need to add topless local lad, Wayne Banks (Myke Gray Band) who’s sat in the crowd by the way, to complete a trio of nutter Duracell powered bassists.

Playing a good assortment of old and new we are treated to a further couple from the new album before we have a classic and fan favourite ‘Motorcycle Man’ this gets the crowd cheering and is followed later in the set by more golden oldies such as ‘Dallas 1am’, ‘And the Bands Played On’. ‘747, Strangers In The Night’, and ‘Princess of the Night’ bring the set to a close and the crowd roar for more!

We’re not getting away too early, the curfew is set at 11pm so we have the first of two encores featuring ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ another fan favourite, and ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’. A quick respite and Biff and the boys are back on with ‘Wheels of Steel’ during which Biff makes a phone call and strolls around the stage, singing with the phone to his ear. Set finisher is everyone’s favourite ‘Denim and Leather’ again another prop is thrown on stage, this time it’s a patched cut off from a fan on the front. Biff dons it saying at last one that fits, in fact it would fit him and Quinn it’s that big. He wanders around the stage singing before taking it off, autographing it and giving it back to its beaming owner. The crowd just about sing the entire song for Biff as he walks around enjoying the moment. Then it’s finished, smoke and lights gone, ears ringing. Nottingham has just witnessed one of the UK’s premier Metal bands deliver a show that will stand out as one of the best. Having not played the Royal Concert Hall for years it does seem an unusual venue especially with Rock City only a few hundred meters up the road. Maybe Biff had the fans best interest at heart when he chose the venue, some of us older ones enjoy a sit down between songs.

A great night, yet again cementing Saxon as one of the best. Now about this 40th bash…..

Words & pictures: Manny Manson

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