Live Reports


Rescheduled after the very last-minute cancellation in October due to a problem with the venue, the mighty Saxon finally returned to the glorious Trianon for a sold-out show featuring the regular setlist from their latest tour of Europe.

While you could consider this setlist a greatest hits collection of sorts, they still have the confidence to include six tracks from their latest and twenty-third album, Carpe Diem. A full 43 years on from their debut release this is indeed a statement of confidence in themselves and in their validity, the quality of the songs selected for tonights show a match for any of their classics. In fact, if you had to choose the setlist yourself you could probably equal, but couldn’t better, the one on offer tonight; maybe a “Crusader” or a “Motorcycle Man” thrown in would have been welcome, but really, there isn’t a dull moment in the entire set … no down-time in which to nip through to the bar for a sneaky beer on this particular night.

And it is these songs, the classics old and new, which make a Saxon show what it is. Every single one of them is a singalong, stompalong, air-punching classic, even the newer tracks winning everyone over within a few bars despite the more muted response to their arrival. All of them are delivered with a degree of energy that to be honest was possibly the only surprise of the evening. Drummer Nigel Glockler, incredibly now 17 years into his third stint with the band, and bassist Nibbs Carter, (who hit the stage with more enthusiasm than many musicians a third of his age, head banging and throwing shapes from the opener, the title track from Carpe Diem, until the NWOBHM classic Princess of the Night which closed out the show) laying the foundations for the twin lead/rhythm guitars of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt to build upon. 

Songs and energy make the show. But of course it is frontman Biff Byford, now famously into his 70s, prowling the stage with the confidence of someone who doesn’t need anyone to tell him his place, smiling at his own jokes, looking genuinely pleased to be here and of course, sounding barely any different to the man of 40 plus years ago, that is, for want of a better expression, the star of this show. Many singers hit the stage with something to prove, night after night. Some other singers let the crowd yell and shout for their right to be there, but Biff, with his mic stand in hand, foot on the monitor, fan blowing his white hair back from his face, is one of us – and we all know it. It is a gathering of friends.

It doesn’t take long for a mini mosh-pit to become visible to the masked retirees looking down from the balconies above, highlighting the age difference of the crowd. I can see maybe three, possibly four full generations of fans crowed into the rows of seats, as always, the sign of a great rock show. No one is too young or too old to be here, and this is just another one of the elements that makes a Saxon concert the experience that it is.

Ultimately we are treated to a five song encore (six if you count the medley of “Strong Arm of the Law” / “Solid Ball of Rock” as two songs I suppose), starting with another new track, “The Pilgrimage” and ending with the crowd favourites of “747 (Strangers In The Night)“, “Denim and Leather” and finally “Princess of The Night”. It’s a success story, and it leaves us all wanting more.

(I would, of course, be remiss not end this review with the phrase, “They came. They saw. They conquered.” So there it is, a truer phrase never spoken.)

Saxon Setlist Le Trianon, Paris, France 2022, Seize the Day