Friday : Planet Rock Main Stage 20:15 – 22:00
From NWOBHM heroes to something so much more, Saxon first came to prominence in one of the most enduring and influential eras of British hard rock, yet not only survived beyond these confirms but have become one of the most consistent and reliable bands on the planet. You know what you’ll get from Saxon: full on power rock, with the emphasis on melody, musicianship and muscle.
It all began 40 years ago, when Son of A Bitch were formed in Yorkshire, with the line-up of Biff Byford (vocals), Graham Oliver and Paul Quinn (guitar0, Steve Dawson (bass) and Pete Gill (drums). They soon changed their name to Saxon, and the emerging thunderous style got the band noticed. Tours with the likes of Motörhead le to a deal with Carrere, and the release the same year of their self-titled, debut album, which many now regard as the first true NWOBHM record.
But it was in the early part of the next decade that Saxon made a massive impact, thanks to the success of the albums ‘Wheels Of Steel’ and ‘Strong Arm of The Law’, both put out in ’80. These proved that here was a band among the elite, set to sweep all before them. And they certainly lived up to expectations, refining their sound through ‘Denim And Leather’ (1981), ‘Power & The Glory’ (’83) and ‘Crusader’ (’84).As many of their peers began to fade and struggle, Saxon launch themselves forward into fresh territory. They even successful covered Christopher Cross’ soft rock anthem ‘Ride Like The Wind’ in 1988, showing a sensitivity for its construction without ever compromising on the riffage.
Like others the band did go through a dip in fortunes during the 1990s. But while many fell away and either adapted their approach to suit the trends, Saxon remained resolute, and have re-emerged in the past decade to find that yet again they’re regarded as metal warriors and an inspiration to a new generation. Starting with 2001’s ‘Killing Ground’, the band have brought in a tougher and rawer perception to the music, but they’re still recognisable as the band who’ve been a guiding light for British metal throughout the decades. Since then, the likes of ‘Lionheart’ (2004), ‘The Inner Sanctum’ (’07) and ‘Battering Ram’ (’15) have given us a further catalogue of Saxon albums with the scope and breadth to prove this is another golden era for them.
The current line-up has now been for over a decade. In fact, Biff, Quinn, guitarist Doug Scarratt and bassist Nibs Carter can boast a two decade longevity. And while drummer Nigel Glockler has been I place only since 2005, we should also remember he first played with Saxon in 1981!
This stability shows itself in the almost telepathic union between the five onstage. And, having been a huge success on the main stage in 2015, they now return with their famed eagle stage set, ready to prove once again that their live performance, with a finely tuned balance of material from across the ages, will get heads rolling and necks straining. Fill your heads with Heavy Metal Thunder!