Saxon + Diamond Head + Untamed Silence @ De Montfort Hall, Leicester – Friday 25th November 2022

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Despite their set clashing with the first half of England’s World Cup game, tonight’s openers Untamed Silence pull in a decent sized crowd, and those present witness one of the UK’s brightest prospects. Mixing metal, psych and progressive elements into their brand of hard rock makes for a volatile brew, and their punchy sound doesn’t disappoint. Sultry vocalist Debbie Wade hits all the right notes, while drummer Ryan Wayne Smith provides a solid backbeat and powers the band forward, however, it’d be nice to see guitarist David Jones and bassist Nigel W Bennion become more animated and utilise the whole stage to create a spectacle that matches their sound. The band’s brief set is over all too soon, but true to the old adage, they leave us hungry for more.

Diamond Head

Diamond Head’s backdrop, a locomotive approaching head-on and at full throttle, is pretty prophetic, but nothing can prepare us for the sonic assault that is opening shot ‘The Prince’. While Untamed Silence did a good job warming up the crowd, the boys from Stourbridge are a major step up in class and they hit the stage like a well-oiled machine with guitarist Brian Tatler throwing some impressive shapes and Karl Wilcox hitting the skins particularly hard. Introductions don’t come better than ‘The Prince’, especially when delivered by a hyperactive frontman such as Rasmus Bom Anderson who leaps about the stage (and beyond) like Bruce Dickinson in his prime. The band’s 40-minute set reads like a “greatest hits” and reveals a deep and varied discography, from the proto-thrash of ‘Helpless’ to the slow and crushing ‘Set My Soul On Fire’ every song, a well-aimed arrow, hits the mark. With the monolithic ‘Am I Evil’ in their arsenal Diamond Head can’t go wrong, and it’s a strong closer that sets the bar high for tonight’s headliners.

Saxon

When I first saw Saxon playing a small leisure centre in Milton Keynes back in 1990, they were at a commercial and creative nadir after some ill-advised career moves and several uninspired albums. Little did I know that evening would be a rebirth and their eagle, bloodied and bowed, would rise from the ashes and after a few years of stoic hard work they’d be back where they belonged and rocking the biggest stages. That’s exactly where a band like Saxon should be, and new album, Carpe Diem proves the band still have plenty in the tank. It’s the title-track from that record which opens proceedings, and it proves to be the spark that lights the kindling as a huge cheer erupts and a multitude of fists pump the air. In a move that’ll characterise the evening, old tracks nestle next to new and despite the decades that separates ‘Age Of Steam’ and ‘Never Surrender’, they make for easy bedfellows.

Saxon

Saxon turn in a performance that makes the perfect soundtrack for a boozy Friday night, and Biff’s between song banter only adds to the revelry. When he gives the crowd a choice of a fast or slow song, we choose the fast and we’re treated to an earth-shattering version of ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’. Amongst the classic tracks are peppered deep cuts such as ‘The Thin Red Line’ and ‘Metalhead’ which makes this show perfect for both the hardcore and casual fan, and looking around it’s heartening to see Saxon attracting a younger crew amongst their typical biker fanbase. Saxon’s rebirth was partly due to the arrival of “Nibbs” Carter, and for the last 30 years he’s been a headbanging metal maniac, tonight is no exception, and with follicles flying, covers every inch of the stage. However, the whole band are on fire and while many bands of their vintage are merely going through the motions, Saxon emit an energy that can’t be faked.

‘The Pilgrimage’ is the first of five encores and leads us back into stone-cold-classic territory with ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ seguing seamlessly into ‘Solid Ball Of Rock’ (and back again) and finds Biff having some good natured fun with the crowd. Accompanied by plumes of smoke, ‘Princess Of The Night’ is the closer which turns into an unstoppable freight train which transports everyone home happy.

  • Words By Peter Dennis.
  • Pictures By Rich Ward.

 

Diamond Head Set List: 

  1. The Prince
  2. Lightning To The Nations
  3. It’s Electric
  4. In The Heat Of The Night
  5. Set My Soul On Fire
  6. Helpless
  7. Am I Evil

 

Saxon Set List:

  1. Carpe Diem (Seize The Day)
  2. Sacrifice
  3. Age Of Steam
  4. Never Surrender
  5. I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)
  6. Dambusters
  7. The Thin Red Line
  8. Living On The Limit
  9. Dallas 1 PM
  10. Heavy Metal Thunder
  11. Metalhead
  12. The Eagle Has Landed
  13. Black Is The Night
  14. And The Bands Played On
  15. Wheels Of Steel

Encores:

  1. The Pilgrimage
  2. Strong Arm Of The Law
  3. Solid Ball Of Rock
  4. 747 (Strangers In The Night)
  5. Denim And Leather
  6. Princess Of The Night