When fans in Pittsburgh found out that the new tour featuring Heavy Metal legends Saxon and Armored Saint was coming to town, they were extremely excited and for damn good reasons.
You see, even though Saxon are coming up on their 40th anniversary as a band, they have only played Pittsburgh a handful of times and believe it or not, Armored Saint had never played Pittsburgh at all in their over 30 year career. So this show was a long time coming.
To make what was already a dream finally realized even better, the show was at an intimate little club called Altar Bar, where fans could get up close and personal with the band and as an added bonus, they were also treated to a killer set by MindMaze.
MindMaze is a stunning female fronted Metal band out of Allentown, PA that put on one hell of a show and was very well received by the crowd. Keep your eye on them, as they are just one break and one hit song away from being the next big thing.
From there, the band so many had waited so long to see took things to a whole other dimension, pulling material from all of their studio albums. Fans were pummeled with a blistering set of Armored Saint classics like “March of the Saint,” “Last Train Home,” “Reign of Fire” and “Can U Deliver.”
They were also ruthlessly pounded with newer tracks like “Win Hands Down” and “An Exercise in Debauchery” from the new album, as well as deeper cuts like “Left Hook from Right Field” off La Raza and “Aftermath” and “Nervous Man” from their classic Delirious Nomad album.
Gonzo & Phil Sandoval are as brutal and solid as ever, as is guitarist Jeff Duncan. Each of them commanding their fair share of the attention, but it is the powerhouse performances of singer John Bush(Who’s voice is stronger now, at age 52 then it was in his prime) and bassist Joey Vera (Who is the backbone and life’s blood of the band) that steal the show.
Much like the new album Win Hands Down, their collective performance had a renewed sense of purpose and a raw energy that you could feel filling the room and as John Bush scaled the stacks of amplifiers to get level with the balcony, you couldn’t help but thinking, it really doesn’t get much better than this. A show well worth waiting for and the night wasn’t done yet.
Far from it in fact, as Saxon unleashed hell in the form of a dizzying, over two hour career retrospective that covered almost every era of the band’s music catalog, much to the delight of the now rabid fans.
Now as you can well imagine, much of the material came from the band’s albums from the 80’s and title tracks like “Power and the Glory,” “Solid Ball Of Rock,” “Rock the Nations,” “Wheels of Steel” and “Strong Arm of the Law” were gobbled up by the audience, driving them into a frenzy from which there was no return.
Believe it or not, at the age of 64 singer Biff Byford’s voice sounds better now than it did on the band’s stunning self-titled debut in 1979, which made songs like “Motorcycle Man,” “This Town Rocks,” “Heavy Metal Thunder,” “And the Band Played On” and “Dallas 1PM” sound as fresh and crisp as the day they were originally recorded.
The other reason the songs sounded so strong was that guitarists Paul Quinn & Doug Scarratt, bassist Nibs Carter and drummer Nigel Glockler are at the very top of their game, sounding as heavy and hungry as ever and as for the strength of their individual performances…Epic!
They even tossed in a few newer cuts like “Sacrifice” and the song “Battering Ram” from the band’s forthcoming album of the same title, but it was the encore of “Crusader” that really brought the house down and when the crowd refused to leave, chanting their name, they came out for a second encore of “Denim and Leather” that finished them off properly.
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Pre-show interview with Armored Saint singer John Bush: