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Saxon - Warriors Of The Road : The Saxon Chronicles, Part II

Label: UDR
Format: CD/DVD
Released: 2014
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 8.5/ 10


Impressive package featuring a pair of DVDs (three full summer festival sets, from 2012-2013, varying in length from 42 to 98 minutes) as well as a 45-minute CD from the 2013 Steelhouse show, in Wales. That rainy night also forms the backdrop for a 98-minute documentary (during which all the Steelhouse songs are seen onscreen), interviews with each member. All comes in a hard bound book, with plenty of bound photos separating the plastic embedded discs inside each cover.

 

What do we learn, about a band who has been treading the boards for 35 years? Well, guitarist Paul Quinn is virtually blind in one eye, has been forever. Drummer Nigel Glockler went to private school in his youth and prior to starting infamous teetotalers Saxon (or even the precursor, Son Of A Bitch), Quinn and mainstay/frontman Biff Byford indulged in marijuana, the drug ultimately affecting their performances, thus they quit. We also see a bit of the old Barnsley area stomping grounds, from the outside, as well as couple of comedic tales of Spinal Tap-ish moments from the road. Needless to say, with multiple gigs, from the same era, there's a bit of overlap in the song selection. Wisely, each year one concert is nearly twice the next, so while there is some duplication, there's plenty of variety. Was at the Wacken '12 gig (as I've been every year since 2000), so the multi-camera shoot, complete with extreme close-ups and zig-zagging, stage-front robo-cam (on which Byford hitched a ride, during ‘Wheels Of Steel’) belies the weather that would characterize the next couple of days. They are truly at home on the German stage, cracking wise and giving the people an amazing career retrospective. Live, the final half-dozen songs just slay. By the way, this label is run by Wacken co-owner/Saxon manager Thomas Jansen, so no expenses were spared in making the boys look/sound good. At Download, in England, despite it being June, everyone (apart from short sleeved bassist Tim “Nibs” Carter) is bundled up, onstage and in the crowd. Quinn opting for a toque, rather than his usual baseball cap. The semi-circle walkway jutting into the crowd is quickly given a workout from the lanky blond/silver haired singer. Eventually all take a spin off the stage, Doug Scarratt (guitar) takes a running lap around the ring. Byford gives the crowd options on what songs are aired, based on audience response. Apart from ‘Hammer Of The Gods’ off the then current “Call To Arms”, it's an all greatest hits showcase, with a couple of noticeable technical glitches (muddy audio, guitar/vocals briefly cutting out, etc.). Unlike the Wacken footage, way too many (overhead) crowd shots in the UK. Biff belly surfing across the stage on a roller board proves they don't take themselves too seriously. Lastly, there's 14 tunes from Graspop, in Belgium. Need a little proofreading/double checking, as somehow the first two songs are numbered twice, in the accompanying booklet. The Belgian visuals are by far the best: clear, an almost film quality, as opposed to video. Interesting that given the late sunset during European summers we get one show at night, one in daylight and one at dusk. Nice touch, especially for lighting effects.

Oh yeah, as a bit of an afterthought, five promotional clips are included: the title cuts from the last two studio albums, “Hammer Of The Gods” and a pair of re-worked, acoustic tracks from their “Unplugged & Strung Up” compilation.

 
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