British heavy metal band Saxon released its latest live recording St. George’s Day—Sacrifice Live in Manchester this past April. The band’s first live release since 2012’s Heavy Metal Thunder—Live: Eagles Over Wacken and its ninth live recording overall, this live recording presents a band that is just as strong today as it was in its earliest days. There is plenty for Saxon’s fans to appreciate in this album beginning with the set list itself. While it obviously doesn’t cover every single one of the band’s now twenty (yes, twenty) albums, the concert presented here covers quite a wide swath of the band’s career. The band’s stage presence also plays a role in the overall enjoyment of the concert. Needless to say the band’s impresses in this arena, too. And last but not least is the concert’s audio mix. The audio mix starts out a little choppy. But it improves rather quickly, making the overall concert experience presented here enjoyable. All things considered the only downside to the whole presentation is that Saxon didn’t provide this concert in either a DVD or Blu-ray presentation. Perhaps the band and its label will take that into consideration and release the show’s video side for fans before 2014 winds down. Regardless, of whether or not that happens, it still remains that St. George’s Day—Sacrifice Live in Manchester is a must hear for any Saxon fan.
The central point of the success behind St. George’s Day—Sacrifice Live in Manchester is easily its expansive set list. It goes without saying that there’s no way the band could have possibly covered its entire catalogue of now twenty albums within the span of time allotted for this concert. However, the band does cover quite a bit of that catalogue. It goes so far as to go back thirty years to the band’s earliest days and as recently as the band’s latest full length studio album and all points in between throughout the course of the concert. The concert’s full run time barely tops the two hour mark. And every single second of that time is well spent by both the audience in attendance and the band. Much like film great Martin Scorsese can take a two-plus hour movie breeze by, so does Saxon make this concert full so much fuller without leaving audiences feel exhausted at the same time. It’s because of that factor and the show’s set list alongside that the band’s more seasoned fans will enjoy this record just as much as those being introduced to the veteran metal act for the first time.
The combined set list and run time of said concert in St. George’s Day—Sacrifice Live in Manchester together are collectively a solid foundation for this latest live recording from Saxon. Just as important to the enjoyment of any live performance by any musical act is the stage presence of the given act. In the case of Saxon, front man Biff Byford and company prove to be just as full of life and energy as when the band first performed live decades ago. The band shreds through numbers such as: ‘Rock N Roll Gypsies,’ ‘Crusader,’ and ‘Wheels of Steel’ just to name a few. And even in between songs, the energy is there as Byford interacts with the audience. He tells audiences brief histories of the songs, joking about some of those histories along the way. Audiences even get the chance to decide which songs they want to hear at least at one point in the show. Byford repay the audience’s enthusiasm with one of the best performances to date of ‘And The Bands Played On.’ These are only some examples of how the band’s stage performance in this concert makes the recording so enjoyable for audiences. There are far more examples than can be noted in one sitting. Audiences will get the full impact of that presence when they purchase this recording for themselves. It still isn’t all that makes this recording enjoyable for Saxon’s legions of fans, either. There is still one more factor to consider in the recording’s enjoyment. That factor is the show’s audio mix.
The last but hardly least important factor to consider in the enjoyment of St. George’s Day—Sacrifice Live in Manchester is the show’s audio mix. One has to think that what must have been an outdoor arena was rather large. That is because of the slight trouble at first in the balance of the recording’s audio mix. Byford’s vocals are muddled early on and covered by his band mates. But luckily, that is rapidly handled with the levels being more equaled as the first half of the first disc progresses. Since it would appear that there is no DVD or Blu-ray presentation to accompany the audio only portion of the concert, it is difficult to figure the size of the venue. One can only assume that the venue’s size must have been relatively large. If that is indeed the case, then those charged with the recording’s final product are to be applauded for the work put in to balance everything and in turn make St. George’s Day—Sacrifice Live in Manchester one of the best of Saxon’s live recordings to date.
George’s Day—Sacrifice Live in Manchester is available now in stores and online. That means that fans worldwide can enjoy the band’s live show even if it has already come and gone. Saxon is currently on tour in Europe in support of both this release and Sacrifice, its most recent full length studio effort. The band’s current tour schedule is available online now via the band’s official website, http://www.saxon747.com. All of the latest news and more from Saxon is available online at the band’s official website and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/saxon. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.