Saxon Fastway Girlschool. O2 Arena, Newcastle. 28.10.2016
O2 Arena, Newcastle. 28.10.2016
I arrived in plenty of time at the O2 Arena, Newcastle so I popped into The Star Pub over the road to meet like minded souls, the place was less than half full of Grey, Greying, bald or going bald gents so I felt at home here. That proved to be a mistake though! Passing the O2 there was only around 20 people queued outside, I should have joined the queue but I didn’t fancy a 50 minute wait in the cold wearing a black Tee shirt in October.
Before I finished my pint of shandy, I looked out of the window to see the queue was now down the road and around the corner and the doors still had 30 minutes before opening.
At 6.00pm the lights in The Star flicker on and off to indicate doors opening time but this was a false alarm though as the doors didn’t open until 6.30pm for some reason the venue thought that it could allow what I predict was a sold out capacity 2000 people in, some with tickets, some without and some only with the confirmation slip who still needed tickets in 15 minutes before Girlschool hit the stage. Sadly this proved very wrong, I got in at 19.10 just as they were hitting the final chords of 999 Emergency and saying farewell to Newcastle.
It didn’t take long for the road crew to strip the stage of their set, a quick 1 – 2, 1 – 2, Owww sound check and Fastway entered the fold. They blitzed through ‘All Fired Up’ with Toby Jepson the former ‘Little Angels’ and Scottish rockers ‘Gun’ front man on vocals followed by ‘Another Day’ and ‘Deliver Me’. Their 40 minute set seemed over in moments but once again the road crew were on stripping down their kit.
The sound engineers play a few classic tunes over the speakers, DIO, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard to keep the hoards happy and I find the ‘space’ that I had rapidly decreasing, now the crowd joined in with the background tunes singing along to AC/DC’s ‘It’s a long way to the top (If you wanna rock and roll)’. The lights go dark, the crowd start whistling, cheering, chanting Saxons name.
The last time I saw Saxon in an enclosed venue they left me deaf for about 3 days, so with age comes wisdom…… or so I thought and I purposely left about 20m between me and the stage opting for a less jostling spot next to the sound engineers mixing desk.
Did it work? I thought it did but this is Saxon, synonymous with everything up to the max on everything. They opened up with their new albums title track ‘Battering Ram’ and instantly I thought to myself, if I am going to have a heart attack, have it tonight, here and now as it felt for the next 90 minutes that I was having either CPR performed on me or an invisible Mike Tyson using my Sternum as a punch bag. Either way I was never going to have the flow of blood stopped from circulating, Saxons amps were on full and loud and the Bass was felt through the floor.
Mixing things up nicely from old hit to new song, back to hit like a game of heavy rock and roll tennis and flowing straight into ‘Let me feel your Power’ and ‘Sacrifice’ before a breather for Biff and a bit of banter with the crowd. Next came a real crowd pleaser for us older members with ‘And the band played on’ and back to the new with ‘The Devils Footprint’ which has a similar oration opening to Iron Maidens 666 The number of the beast’ I am sure this will prove to be one of Saxons classics in time, riffy, powerful, fast and so typically Saxon. Nibbs Carter’s antics on Bass bouncing around the stage, headbanging with the crowd whipping them up into a frenzy between chords before going into ‘Never Surrender’.
Biff pauses at the end for a chat ‘Got any requests’? Yeah, I’m sure you fucking have, some say play new songs, some say play old ones so we’re bound to piss someone off, you can’t win’, so here’s ‘Strong arm of the Law’.
Pausing afterwards and looking at his watch, Biff quips, ‘It’s only 20 past 9, I suppose there’s a fucking Disco on after us is there’?
‘Eagle has landed’ followed nicely into Chasing the Bullet before commenting that ‘Here’s one we haven’t played for a while’ and really gets the crowd going the classic ‘Dallas 1pm’. ‘You know, we have played Newcastle around 100 times over the years, City Hall, The Mayfair we even played in a workingman’s club in the beginning, we almost started our carrers here, he says. I couldn’t help but think that Saxon playing in a working man’s club would have turned a few flat capped heads.
‘This song was our 1st top ten hit and after this all I can say is we got laid a lot’ says Biff before closing the set with one of their anthems ‘Wheels of Steel’. Saxon – Exit Stage Right.
To the chants of Saxon, Saxon they re-enter this time with Eddy ‘Fast Eddy’ Clarke, Fastway’s current and Motorhead’s former Lead Guitarist, ‘You know what we are going to pay now don’t ya’? This one is for our mate Lemmy’ and now the already vocal crowd help blast out even louder ‘ Ace of Spades’ I am sure Lemmy will have enjoyed this if he is listening.
‘How do we follow that’ asks Biff…..’Try this 747 Strangers in the night’ straight into ‘Princess of the Night’
Take a bow Saxon, yet another superb gig from a long standing top quality British Heavy Metal legend. Enjoy the rest of the tour and hope to see you again very soon.
As I thought I had been wise standing further back, it took me around 50 minutes to drive back to Teesside with my CD player on in the car playing Guns n’ Roses at a sensible volume and as I arrive home the wife is sat watching TV and she asks me a few questions that she had to repeat. The following morning my neighbour quipped, ‘Was that music blasting for your car last night, bit loud wasn’t it’? It sounded ok to me at the time. 🙂 Maybe next time some ear plugs!
FULL SET LIST.
LET ME FEEL YOUR POWER
BANDS PLAYED ON
STAND UP AND BE COUNTED
STRONG ARM OF THE LAW
EAGLE HAS LANDED
CHASING THE BULLET
QUEEN OF HEARTS
WHEELS OF STEEL
ACE OF SPADES (Motorhead cover and a tribute to legendary Lemmy Kilmister)
747 STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT
PRINCESS OF THE NIGHT.
Review by Tony Burgum