Review by Baal
Coming hot on the heels of the excellent "Unplugged & Strung Up" release is this new live offering from the mighty Saxon, "St George's Day, Live In Manchester", recorded, on last years very successful Sacrifice tour. It would be fair to say the band have gone through something of a resurgence with a run of increasingly impressive albums.
It's a sign of the quality of the new material and the bands confidence in those songs, that the set featured on this album sees six tracks from the "Sacrifice" album included.
In times when many of the "elder statesmen" of rock & metal are content to tread the "greatest hits" route, it's both refreshing and commendable to see a band with a back catalogue as rich as Saxon, recording new and more importantly quality albums.
Make no mistake, Saxon haven't reinvented the wheel, but there's a vitality and vibrancy in these new songs, especially in the live format on this album, that shines through and gives the listener that warm 80's glow, that this is Saxon and all is well.
Of the new tracks featured, a blistering opener of "Sacrifice" sets the tone, with Biff leading the charge, from the front, as it should be. Arguably the pick of the new tracks featured is "Guardians Of The Tomb", reminiscent of "Powerslave" era Maiden.
"Made In Belfast" is a storming track in the studio and really comes into it's own in the live environment.
It is a pleasant surprise to see the inclusion of a number of tracks which, whilst not being what most Saxon fans would describe as classics, are, none the less a welcome addition on this album, namely "Rock & Roll Gypsy", "Conquistador" and "Ride Like The Wind"; the latter really benefiting from a live outing as opposed to the perhaps "over produced" studio version from the "Destiny" album some years ago.
A special mention must also be made of "Broken Heroes", performed here on St George's Day and dedicated by Biff to "the fallen".....just a great version of a truly great track.
Song after song, this is the sound of a band on top of their game with the tunes to keep them there for the foreseeable future (we hope).
The album closes with six 100% metal classics, we all know & love them, including fan favourites "747 (Strangers In The Night)" and "Denim & Leather".
How many bands would kill to have just one of these songs in their arsenal? Saxon have them in abundance.
By the time we get to a show stopping version of "Princess Of The Night" you'll find yourself in the front row, fists in the air......just the reaction a live metal album should illicit.
We here have been fortunate enough to have caught the band on recent tours - and with excellent backing from hometown heroes Stormzone.
If you didn't catch Saxon last time out, you could do the next best thing and get a hold of this live album. Saxon live are as good a metal band as you'll find and this album serves as a worthy testament to that fact.
As the man himself says....."Play It Loud"....you won't be disappointed