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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world Saxon-Two-Nights-Of-30-Sep-1-Oct-2011-San-Francisco

Two nights with Saxon
September 30, 2011 at The Avalon Nightclub in Santa Clara, California &
October 1, 2011 at The Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa, California


By Robert Kitay



Saxon concerts are a rare event in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to these shows, Saxon hadn’t played here for 13 years, so it was a rare treat to see two shows on back to back nights. The first show was at the Avalon Nightclub in Santa Clara.


The show opened with a band called Haunted By Heros, which was made up of 11 year old boys. I only caught the last couple songs, but boy can these kids rock. They did a cover of AC/DC’s “TNT” that was every bit as good as one of the AC/DC tribute bands out there on the circuit.


The second band was a decent thrash band called Hatchet, which turned the floor into a mosh pit. Yet another opening band was Borealis from Canada, a decent prog metal band.


Finally, the main event – Saxon. Wow, what a great show they put on. The band was loud, sharp and relentless, playing mostly a setlist of classics plus 5 songs from their new album. Biff Byford’s voice sounded great and the entire band was sharp. The crowd of just short of 700 people was rocking out big time and most seemed to know all the words, even to the new songs. There was also a surprising amount of moshing and stage diving during this show. The setlist for the 2 hour set was as follows:


Hammer of the Gods
Heavy Metal Thunder
Never Surrender
Chasing the Bullet
Motorcycle Man
Back in '79
And the Bands Played On
Battalions of Steel
Call to Arms
Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy
Dallas 1 PM
This Town Rocks
When Doomsday Comes
Denim and Leather
Princess of the Night

747 (Strangers in the Night)
Power and the Glory

Encore 2:
Strong Arm of the Law
Wheels of Steel


The following night Saxon played at the Last Day Saloon in Santa Rosa, California, approximately 100 miles to the north. I was a late arrival and missed all of the opening bands.


Imagine my surprise when I walked into the club to find a small crowd of maybe 150 people. Where is everyone? It’s a Saturday night and I can’t get over the small size of the crowd. I have seen several shows at this club and have yet to see a big crowd here, although I heard it was packed for UFO a couple weeks prior.


Anyway, the good news for me is that despite walking in only 10 minutes before Saxon taking the stage I was in the second row of people from the stage. Not only that but there was no getting pounded by moshers from behind, no pushing and no shoving. What a concept!


Once again, Saxon played a fantastic set. Despite the small crowd, they played as if they were playing to a full stadium. The setlist was the same as the previous night with the exception of playing “The Eagle Has Landed” instead of “Dallas 1 PM.” They also only played only one encore adding “Wheels of Steel” to the single encore and dropping “Strong Arm of the Law” from the encore. They also didn’t play a small bass solo that was played during the second encore at the Avalon. Following both shows, Saxon spent time talking with fans and signing autographs. Two fantastic nights of pure heavy metal thunder. I just hope we don’t have to wait another decade to see them again.