May 24, 2015
Gas Monkey Live!
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Justin Press
Photos by Andy Laudano
Heavy Metal Thunder Reigns Supreme
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal began as a tag to describe the late 70's early 80's rise of aggressive pre-thrash English rock bands that lived outside the walls of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple while skirting the useless punk movement which was about nihilism all the while metal and hard rock celebrated self-empowerment. Numerous bands embraced this tag and while many found quick success its only a handful that outlived the era and it just so happens that two of them also are among the popular bands in rock history, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden, and bands like Motorhead are a niche unto themselves, it is Saxon that proves to be a standard bearer still running strong.
In the midst of the 35th year, Saxon's Warriors of the Road tour rolled thru Dallas's Gas Monkey Live, which from note one sounded monstrous. Playing a majority of tracks from the - holy trinity - Wheels of Steel, Denim And Leather and Strong Arm of the Law albums, they opened with "Motorcycle Man." A stack of Marshall amplifiers and an ever-present SAXON logo were the only back-line that vocalist Biff Byford and crew needed.
The only new track they went for was the title track from 2012's Sacrifice album, a modern piece of heavy metal mastery. However it was the classic goods that the heavily attended crowd was after and the band delivered in spades. "Power and Glory" set the stage for the remainder of the evening as hit after hit and crowd-pleasing moments set the evening ablaze. "To Hell and Back Again" was one of the template setters for the NWOBHM's fast-paced rock, part Motorhead, and part Priest, all Yorkshire power. "This Town Rocks" from 1983's was a double-bass blitzkrieg while "Dallas 1PM" was as powerful as the moment it describes.
Arena-level lighting and a massive sound system delivered "20,000 Ft" with all its English swagger and you can just imagine magazines like sounds just being crushed upon first hearing this track. "Princess of the Night" is the "Born To be Wild" for the denim-clad sect while "Crusader" harkened back to the days of Excalibur. Though it's "Heavy Metal Thunder" that was the full-throttle killer of the regular set replete with thunder claps and lightning strikes before heading into the pulverizing opening riff.
The encores of "Wheels of Steel" and "Strong Arm of The Law" were mere tastes of what was come "Denim And Leather," the epitome of the entire heavy metal ethos had Byford had the old-school throng raising their fists punching the night air. This track laid down the foundation of the lifestyle that has defined a generation of the most loyal fans in the world, the metal head. You think pop, country and dance fans would wait in knee high snow for a ticket to a gig or collect all the vinyl, magazines and every tee imaginable of their favorite act, hardly. "Denim and Leather" exemplifies why bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica and Slayer have lasted 30 odd years and have only gotten more popular. They transcend trends and the ebb and flow of cultures in a large part due to the themes heralded in this Saxon beast, "...Denim and Leather brought us all together..." This is a hymn for the heavy-fisted, the long-haired sermon for those from the other side of the tracks, it's for us who 35 years later still fly the flag.
Stay heavy or don't go at all.