Saxon live review – London, Shepherd's Bush Empire

Biff and co salute legends passed and present, live in London – supported by Fastway and Girlschool

Saxon live in London, 2016

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This evening could have been shrouded in sadness. Two of these acts were to have supported Motörhead on that band’s final tour, while ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, a member during the glory years of the 80s, had been lined up for a cameo at Hammersmith.

Tonight, everyone’s here except Mr Kilmister, but the mood is nothing less than jubilant. Lem’s old boozing partners GIRLSCHOOL [7] sound as though they’ve fallen out of the pub, but the all-female four-piece have a charm and honesty to warm the coldest of hearts. ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke’s band FASTWAY [8] don’t resemble Motörhead at all, their low-slung riffing proving to be a throwback to the formative years of British hard rock. If, as Eddie has stated, this is “just one last time, to say goodbye to the fans” then we must hope the response serves to change his mind. SAXON [9] are simply unstoppable. Biff Byford holds a sold-out Empire in the palm of his hand from the start as the band barrel though a setlist that emphasises a latterday purple patch of creativity – they have yet to make a below-par album during this millennium – and, of course, one career great after another. And when ‘Fast’ Eddie returns for a triumphant Ace Of Spades, you know you’ve witnessed a priceless moment in heavy metal history that will last forever.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.