Written by GE 138.
Trueland got to my house with about an hour and a half until Saxon was about to hit the stage @ Vinyl. We were both pretty hyped on the gig. I missed them when they played at Vamp'd a few years ago, and when Trueland told me he'd never seen Saxon, I hit up my friend Mike from Earshot Media for some free tickets to the gig, and he said no problemo. I was told when I picked up the comped tickets that it was a strict 8:30 start time, and when Jeff went to pick up his tickets the day of the gig, he ran into the Man himself, Biff Byford, lead singer / showman extraordinaire of Saxon, wandering around the casino like you do, and after the obligatory selfie photo, he too stressed to Jeff that Saxon were going to hit the stage at 8:30 sharp. And so after a quick pre-game sesh which involved chugging Strongbow and watching the Saxon - Live At Wacken 2014 video, we ambled on our way to the Hard Rock to catch the gig. After a bit of a traffic snarl at Trop / 15, we pulled into the parking lot and stomped our way into the casino and made a beeline to the venue, which was already full of Saxon fans of all shapes and sizes and ages. Sweet. There were little kids with earplugs on running around like kids do, which was cool to see at a gig like this. Metal has no age restrictions. We grabbed more cider and queued up to the merch booth, which is a good thing we did, because I grabbed the last XXL Saxon Tour shirt they had, so ha ha! Jeff found us standing around and after a quick chugging of our drinks (you can buy drinks from the bar directly next to Vinyl, but you can't take them into Vinyl, which makes no sense whatsoever) we headed into the venue and stood around with everyone else while waiting for the band to come out. It was a great turnout. The irony that we just watched Saxon playing some festival in Europe in front of 80,000 people, and now that same band is about to tear up this tiny ass Vegas venue in front of about 500 people maybe, that irony was not lost on either Trueland or I. This was going to be fucking great. Bring it!
After a couple of choice AC/DC songs that were blasted over the club PA, the band finally emerged from stage left and the boisterous crowd voiced their approval as Saxon kicked into their usual opening song, Motorcycle Man. They sounded great. You could feel Nigel's double kick drums pounding into your chest with every thump of his hooves. Biff looked great and took total command of the room the moment he stepped out on the stage. His voice sounded powerful, deep, very impressive. The band was kicking ass. They sounded fantastic! Nice and nasty and LOUD!! The dual guitar attack of Paul and Doug was fucking stellar, with both of them being loud as fuck and showing off those whammy bars on their guitars, like they do on 747 (Strangers In The Night), and although it was a bit odd to see Doug wearing the exact same shirt he was wearing in the Wacken 2014 video we were just watching earlier, it was still cool to see him shredding away just a few feet away from me. The exact same shirt. Whatever. Both those motherfuckers can play, and I'm not even a guitar dude and I know that, but their combination of big, anthemic, punishing riffs, contrasted with pretty, quiet, tender bits of guitar work is fantastic to see / hear live. Songs like Crusader, Power & The Glory, and Dallas 1 pm all perfectly illustrate all that. I was having fun people watching. The crowd was heavily into everything Saxon was playing from opening note onwards, with all sorts of people just screaming along to what Biff was singing, like on Solid Ball Of Rock or Wheels Of Steel. I think almost everyone in the place knew the words to most of Saxon's songs. At a few points during the night I thought the crowd was louder that the PA., and the PA in that room ain't no joke! It's fucking LOUD, and with everyone in the place singing in unison, it was being pushed to be heard, that for sure. That's how Heavy Metal is supposed to be played - Loud, in in front of a room full of fucked up people just screaming and howling like animals. The guys air guitaring, or air drumming, and just being drunken Metal jackasses rocking out and having fun was part of the joy of watching the gig. It was like Heavy Metal Parking Lot but 30 years later... LOL I had fun. The band played brilliantly. I wish I could remember every song Saxon played, because I don't remember hearing a dud in the bunch. They even played This Town Rocks, which I had completely forgotten was a Saxon tune! That and 20,000 ft. (which Mr. Byford introduced as a "Thrash Classic") were the unexpected surprises of the evening for me. The band played for almost 2 hours, and towards the end, Trueland, Jeff and I are standing around, going, Holy fuck, what more could they play? What song haven't they played yet? And Trueland, showing off his Heavy Metal upbringing, goes Oh, they haven't played Strong Arm Of The Law yet and they haven't played Denim And Leather yet, and sure as shit, almost as if they heard Trueland call them out, Saxon played those 2 songs as the final tunes for the evening, and once they were done, the houselights came up and everyone filed out the door satisfied and drained. My throat was sore from yelling like a drunken lout all night, and I didn't care. Saxon blew the roof off the place, and I'm glad to have been there to see them do so. Fantastic gig. :-)