Photo: Paul Smith
Hammersmith Odeon is "the best f**king venue in the world," and we, the witnesses of SAXON's 10th birthday extravaganza are "the best f**kin' audience in the world." We are told this so many times that it must be true, mustn't it? What is true is that the Hammy Odeon is synonymous with rock n' roll, and Saxon are masters of the art, and this being the aforementioned anniversary renders it a special occasion. But is all this pandering to the myth necessary?

Tonight we are given the works. All the cliches are here, and very well they done they are too! SAXON however are capable of more than this! This is show for show's sake. Give us the riffs for f**ks sake. Tonight we are being taken over the top to schmaltzville, when the fact is the music can more than stand up for itself!

Meanwhile back to the set. Heavy Metal Thunder roars through the smoke, all good driving bass and twin guitar stuff. The dynamics of the music work well, as on through the repertoire we roll. These guys know what they're doing.

"Any guitar players in tonight," brings the air players to their their feet. Broken Heroes, Ride Like The Wind, Princess Of The Night, phallic symbolism abounds. 20,000 Feet really brings the crowd to stomping pitch. "UH, UH, UH," the three guys next to me cry. As if by magic this heralds the appearance of a gross metal eagle which 'flies' in unconvincingly, block and tackle shining brighter than the thing itself.

The boys are tight, showing their age, but hot! This is solid and the crowd love it. We are treated to a great version of the possible new single release, Solid Ball of Rock, lifted from the forthcoming album.

Oh no! Here comes the old 'let's get the audience singing' bit.

"We're gonna call you lot the crazy bastards, and you lot the crazy motherf**kers," wo, wo, wo, woa! Now the Hammy is jumping, as we storm through Mists of Avalon, 747 and Power And The Glory. Uh oh! I knew there had to be a mirrorball hiding somewhere! 747 (Strangers In The Night) is heralded with "We put this tour together ourselves." With Wheels Of Steel comes the ZZ Top spinning guitar trick. SAXON "are a British rock band through and through"! And so it goes on!

Yes, it was good stuff, brilliantly played, and just what everyone wanted. But at the end of the day, guys, be HONEST. You're good at what you do. You don't have to dress it up quite so much. Rock & Roll fools your audience are not!

Colin Goddard
Riff Raff
July 1990
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