To those local to Reading or Central Pennsylvania, bands similar in style to SAXON aren’t a frequent option for live music. The area isn’t exactly known as a hotspot for classic metal bands, especially those playing the smaller venue/club circuit these days. If local concert goers were looking for a treat by seeing SAXON, that’s exactly what they got Thursday night at Reverb. Many bands of their era have been locked into some bland and generic nostalgia act, only focusing on playing the same hits over and over each night with little variation. SAXON has gained a reputation as anything but a nostalgia act, continuing to release albums with a fresh and modern sense of creativity. While this particular setlist didn’t favor the latter half of their catalog, with “Sacrifice” and “I’ve Got to Rock (To Stay Alive)” as the only two songs to be released post-1984, the band still completely brought it.
Celebrating their thirty-fifth Anniversary on this tour, SAXON showcased the “Holy Trinity” of their discography, Wheels of Steel, Strong Arm of the Law, and Denim and Leather. From the moment “Motorcycle Man” kicked off the set, it was clear this would be one filled with energy. Biff Byford can easily be considered one of the greatest frontmen in heavy metal. His killer pipes are accented by a charismatic and captivating stage presence. His light-hearted banter between songs in the set put smiles on the faces of the fans in the crowd.
Guitar enthusiasts were surely not let down by the duo of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt. Hammering out riff after riff from “Power and the Glory” to “Princess of the Night”, it was easy to be captivated by them in the audience. The solos surely did not disappoint either, showcasing some truly blistering fret work.
SAXON’S rhythm section is not to be ignored either. Tim “Nibbs” Carter is one heck of an entertainer, jumping around onstage, while holding his own on the bass. His constant motioning for crowd participating with clapping and shouting brought the fists high in the air. Last but not least, there’s drummer Nigel Glockler…
Only five months prior to this show, he was rushed to the hospital and underwent two emergency surgeries as a result of a ruptured brain aneurysm.
If that information hadn’t littered metal news websites, no one could even tell. Aside from him sporting a “brain cap” instead of one of his traditional skull caps, he played impeccably, just as well as he has at previous gigs on prior tours. I’d say he was the highlight of the show and his recovery has been incredible.
While the turnout wasn’t amazing, SAXON put on nothing short of a great performance in Reading. For a ticket price that is usually less than $20, no one should pass on this band. The set featured all the hits, energy, and power a live show should have. Denim and Leather was certainly back in style on Thursday night.
LIVE WORDS AND PHOTOS: STRANGE WINGS