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Recorded on April 23rd 2013 at The Ritz in Manchester, England. Mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap. Sold digitally and strictly limited to 7000 physical copies.
Another live release from British heavy metallers Saxon. This time a double CD with over two hours of playing time. This recording seems pretty accurate and live and it doesn't feel like a total studio production. The audio isn't too polished and Biff Byford's voice doesn't crush on all cylinders all throughout. You can be certain of that there are corrections, but those are made nicely and nifty, because a lack of the feeling of authenticity never arrives.
In my situation, as a long-time fan of the band, it would be tough to see a Saxon live album as something miserable. The band is one of metal's greatest live acts and the lion's share of the songs presented is awesome. Their explosive performances shine all the way down to this recording, although the performers themselves are no longer in their prime age or at their most vigorous moments in life.
Disc 2 is more or less a repeat of Saxon's past live albums, including eight heavy metal classics from the early days. The most outstanding track of this unit's latest record Sacrifice, Stand Up And Fight, fits perfectly in this set and so does one of their most demanded songs, the cover Ride Like The Wind off one of their most spitted-at albums, Destiny. Most of the band's fans have seen and heard these eight classics on numerous occasions and several songs could have been ditched for this album and replaced with newer ones. Naturally this is a matter of taste, but many songs have already been featured on discs before and with hand on heart, who actually wants to hear a sing-a-long in Wheels Of Steel ever again?
Personally I would like to see more songs from 1986 and forward to vary the sets more and to make a record like this more valuable than buying pretty much the same thing over and over again. This one shows what most of the classic bands decide to do; they choose to play a large number of classics to appease the masses, rather than to play songs for the die-hards, who come to the shows no matter what's given, and second, they also unconditionally play a bunch of tracks off the latest recording to promote that stuff.
Disc 1 has a more valid outcome. Only a few classics, mainly new songs and a couple of songs off the long era in between these periods. I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive) and the drum solo would have been better off not included, but almost everything else is on a satisfactory level. It feels fresh and not forced and I believe this is more what the band's buyers prefers. If you prefer the classics solely, you might as well listen to The Eagle Has Landed instead.
It's a good album nonetheless. The songs definitely rock hard all through and Saxon shows that they're still highly current after thirty-five years on the scene. It will be a sad day to the heavy metal world when this outfit will call it quits. To still be valid and to deliver in this way is nothing but impressive.
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