As live releases go, this new Saxon live album isn’t going to go down as a milestone in live recording history, it is still an excellent document of what sounded like a white-hot night at Manchester’s Ritz.
Saxon have been on something of a roll recently. Last year’s studio album of all-new material Sacrifice was an absolute belter and, for me at least, the Unplugged & Strung Up double CD collection was almost my favourite release of 2013; especially the “Heavy Metal Thunder” re-recordings CD which breathed new life into some already immortal Saxon classics.
This live album is as honest as the day is long; something Saxon have always specialised in. Since the legendary Wheels of Steel album in 1980, when the band were at the very forefront of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, Saxon have pretty much continued to deliver the goods. Sure, they went through a “poodle” moment or two during the 80s, but the last few years have seen them produce easily the best work they’ve ever produced. All you’d need to do is check out albums like “The Inner Sanctum,” and “Into The Labyrinth” to understand what I mean.
What has always, in my humble opinion, lifted the band above the likes of Iron Maiden in particular, was the use of melody around grand guignol riffing and bombast. Whereas Maiden, who have produced classic moments of their own to be sure, relied on the riff and the complexities, Saxon always served those melodies.
The twin-guitar attack of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt weave those melodies above the solid rock and swing of bassist Nibs Carter and the energy, power and original drum thunder of Nigel Glockler. The songs on show here such as “Sacrifice,” “Power & The Glory,” the mandolin drive of “Made In Belfast” right through to the classic finish of “Denim & Leather” and “Princess of the Night,” the energy doesn’t let up at any point. As singer Biff Byford says during the show “It’s gonna be a fucking hot one.”
He wasn’t kidding either. This is as good a heavy metal live album as I’ve ever heard. Go get it if you haven’t already. Classic stuff.
ST GEORGE’S DAY SACRIFICE – LIVE IN MANCHESTER is available from all outlets now.