Saxon/Stormzone - Belfast, Mandela Hall - 3rd May 2013 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Thursday, 16 May 2013 03:20

Saxon 2When Saxon bring their heavy metal thunder to any venue in any town, it’s always a special night – but this evening was extra special as they had some serious competition in the support stakes, as evidenced by the couple of hundred rabid Belfast metallians who had deliberately turned up early to pay homage to their home town heroes, Stormzone.


Right from the off, the local lads were grinning from ear to ear – if not more widely than usual – as they proved that they were exactly ‘Where We Belong’, it’s huge soaring vocals even more majestic than ever with the benefit of the larger stage and massive PA. By second track, ‘Immortals’ – with its blitzkrieg solo – the audience was singing along to every word, giving the band even more confidence as they delivered a truly thunderous rendition of ‘Night Of The Storm’, the title track from their eagerly-anticipated fourth studio album (and having had the good fortune to be privy to a few early rough mixes of same, it’s going to be a tornado of an opus magnus).


Stormzone never play a bad set. Tonight, however, they were even more enjoyable, leaving their (growing) legion of fans hungry for more but having to settle for finding some liquid libation at the venue’s numerous bars in order to eradicate the hoarseness from their throats. Stormzone now go on to headline the first ever Helfast at the Limelight, Belfast on Saturday 1st June.


So after a stupidly unnecessary, and inexplicably long, delay of more than 45 minutes (Stormzone had their gear off stage, packed and loaded into their van outside in a third of that time), the ‘Procession’ intro finally boomed across the slightly restless room and Saxon launch into their opener, ‘Sacrifice’… what is immediately obvious is that Biff may not be moving about as much as he used to, and his voice may be fraying a bit around the edges, but he still has the power to hold an audience, totally captivated, in the palm of his veteran palms.


Having said that, and maybe I’m being a bit pedantic here, but his trademark charisma seems to be mysteriously absent during his between song patter: for example, he merely introduces ‘Made In Belfast’ as "another song from the new album" when he could have made such a big deal about in the in the city about which the city is written (or maybe he’d figured out that we’re all a bit sick of hearing about the feckin’ Titanic in these parts!).


Saxon 6


Nevertheless, it’s another strong set from a band that truly know what they are doing, from the classic twin guitar attack of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt to the rock solid rhythm section of Nigel Glockler and Nibbs Carter, and a set littered with truly classic metal anthems – as well as few surprises, such as a rare outing for ‘Sacrifice’ and the acoustic interlude of ‘Requiem’. Despite the few minor flaws outlined above, it was another great night’s craic with a band many of us of a certain generation (and, thankfully, a growing number of younger fans) will never get tired of seeing or listening to.


Stormzone Set list: Where We Belong ; Immortals ; Night Of The Storm ; Death Dealer ; The Legend Carries On


Saxon Set list: Procession ; Sacrifice ; Wheels Of Terror ; Power And The Glory ; Made In Belfast ; Rock ‘N Roll Gypsy ; And The Band Played On ; I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive) ; Night Of The Wolf ; Conquistador ; Drum Solo ; Requiem ; Guardians Of The Tomb ; Never Surrender ; Ride Like The Wind ; Stand Up And Fight ; 747 (Strangers In The Night) ; Wheels Of Steel


Encore: Strong Arm Of The Law ; Denim And Leather ; Princess Of The Night


[Photographs by Marc Leach –]