Saxon, Uriah Heep, Girlschool, Diamond Head

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Once again Saxon came and conquered

London: Hammersmith Eventim Apollo – 29 January 2022

For Saxon fans this show has been a long time coming since the pandemic shut everything down. Originally set for 2019 with Krokus on the bill, they were now replaced by Uriah Heep. Diamond Head kicked off a short but sweet set which included new songs 'Bones' and 'The Messenger' sat alongside old tracks like 'Sweet And Innocent' and 'Lightning To The Nations'. The encore had to be 'Am I Evil' with the whole of Hammersmith singing along and punching the air.

Girlschool hit the ground running with a string of NWOBHM gems like 'C'mon Lets Go', 'Emergency' and 'Race With The Devil'. Singer and guitarist Kim McAuliffe fires out her familiar ''You Alright'' to the audience before making mention of Lemmy from Motörhead, someone still very much missed in the Metal community. The band then tear into an explosive version of Motörhead's 'Bomber' which is warmly received.

Despite my disappointment at Krokus not playing Uriah Heep remind us what a great live act they still are, Bernie Shaw still has an incredible set of pipes which are used to full effect on 'Too Scared To Run' a song from the bands eighties period. The set is chock full of the band's greatest material; 'Look At Yourself', 'Gypsy', 'July Morning' and a rousing encore of 'Easy Living' keep the audience happy.

Saxon are embraced with a sea of arms as the opening chords of 'Motorcycle Man' blast out from the stage. Biff Byford for a man of 70 still sings with a demanding passion and commands the stage with a mixture of majesty and northern humour. We get 'Battering Ram', 'Wheels Of Steel', then an epic version of 'The Eagle Has Landed' with the giant Saxon eagle making a welcome appearance. The backdrop screen shows various album covers and photos of the band throughout their career to complement the songs. During 'They Played Rock n Roll', a song about Motörhead, we see Lemmy and his crew which has everyone saluting the stage in remembrance. Biff tells us Hammersmith has sold out and reminds us of his promise to have a tattoo if this happened. We then get a barrage of Metal classics like 'Heavy Metal Thunder', 'And The Bands Played On', '747(Strangers In The Night)' and 'Princess Of The Night'. There was a real sense of appreciation of having live music on the big stage again with the band and the audience. Once again Saxon came and conquered.

Ray Paul

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