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London, Koko
20th December 2011

Tina Saul, pictures by Judith Fisher

tina saul

It's the Tuesday before Christmas and my last gig of 2011. What a great way to finish up a fine year for live music than a trip to Koko in London, to see the mighty Saxon.

tina saul

The party spirit was underway by the time I got there and the crowd had been nicely oiled by Hammerfall, who opened up tonight's proceedings, plus a variety of refreshments of the liquid variety by the looks of things. Motley Crue's 'Dr Feelgood' was playing in the background and everyone looked quite content to have a little bit of glam to get the festivities underway.

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It was great to see such a diverse range of people in the audience, ranging from the older die-hard fans, right through to teenagers, who probably have their Dad's vinyl collection to thank for being here.

The promise for tonight was the whole of 'Denim And Leather', so there were a few disappointed faces when they opened with 'Hammer Of The Gods' from their 2011 album 'Call To Arms'. But we had nearly two hours of Saxon to look forward to, so knew it would come later in the show.

tina saul

The set continued with a range of tracks spanning their nineteen studio albums. Biff's energy on stage is incredible, bobbing up and down like a teenager, rather than a man in his 60s; shame the same can't be said for the crowd! Even 'Motorcycle Man' doesn't wake them up.

However as soon as the opening of 'And The Bands Played On' was heard, this changed everything and it almost felt like people had been pacing themselves for the last part of the show. This was more like it. Even a previous Member of Parliament (who shall remain nameless) was in front of me, pounding his imaginary axe.

By the time they play 'Rock The Nation', which they admitted to not haveing played live for a very long time, you could almost be forgiven for thinking you were at a completely different gig. And then Biff lets the crowd decide which track they will play next and the choices are 'The Eagle Has Landed' or 'Broken Heroes'. The decision is based on the size of the crowd's cheers for each and the latter wins.

tina saul

Finally, we're now at the absolute singalong stage of the gig, with the next five tracks guaranteed to work your vocal chords and get fists pumping. 'Play It Loud', 'Rough And Ready' and 'Out Of Control' warm everyone up nicely for 'Denim And Leather' and then my absolute favourite track 'Princess Of The Night' closes off the main set.

Everyone was a little confused when they started playing it again at the end, but it became clear when Biff turned a video camera on the crowd, sang "She used to be an iron horse..." and then let the audience sing the rest, with the band backing them. I guess you could say it was the ultimate Saxon karaoke.

There's still time for more and we are treated to two encores tonight. The first gives guitarist Doug Scarratt the chance to shine with his solo, and ends with '747 (Strangers In The Night)'. The second starts with a bass solo from Nibbs, and the night finishes off with 'Wheels Of Steel'.

tina saul

A solid show, with great audience interaction, but the thing lacking for me was a Christmassy feel to it. There was brief appearance from a Santa hat on stage, but that was about it.

This is the kind of show I like Saxon to do on St. George's Day and that's how I left feeling: proud to be English!

Oh well, that'll do, Christmas will have to wait until next year.




Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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