British Lion + Airforce @ The Craufurd Arms, Wolverton on 7th December 2021


British Lion are a band so confident in the own ability that they always give support acts a decent sound and tonight’s openers Airforce put it to good use. Originally formed in 1987 their sound captures the more melodic end of the NWOBHM and, with military muster, they hit the ground running with aptly titled opener ‘Fight’. Airforce are a tight unit (thanks in no small part to having ex-Iron Maiden drummer Doug Sampson behind the kit) and eschew any silly antics, preferring to get their collective heads down and deliver some serious metal. Tonight’s set is largely culled from 2020’s Strike Hard album and with tracks like ‘Son Of The Damned’, ‘The Reaper’ and ‘Heroes’ in their arsenal they can’t go far wrong.

Frontman Flávio Lino simply drips charisma (and it’s no surprise he sings in Maiden tribute band Iron Beast) and his impressive vocal range, not too dissimilar from Bruce Dickinson’s air raid wail, soon wins over a receptive crowd. However, the great thing about Airforce is they don’t sound like anyone but themselves as guitarist Chop Pitman pulls some impossible sounds from his guitar during ‘Band Of Brothers’ and Tony Hatton seems intent on shaking the venue to its core with his earth rumbling basslines. Just as all good support bands should Airforce warm up the crowd nicely and parting shot ‘Sniper’ sets the bar extremely high for British Lion.

British Lion

The fact that legendary bassist Steve Harris is in the ranks of British Lion is always going to garner the band a certain amount of attention but there’s no nepotism on display here and this band has been built organically, and from the bottom up. Nevertheless, this is a rare opportunity to catch ‘Bomber’ in such an intimate setting and an air of expectation hangs heavy as a capacity crowd await British Lion. As the lights go down, cheers erupt, the band hit the stage and launch straight into ‘This Is My God’ and with barely a pause for breath it’s followed by the bombastic ‘City Of Fallen Angels’. Despite the tempest blowing outside, the temperature inside The Craufurd Arms soon reaches boiling point as all excess clothing is removed and the ceiling starts to sweat.

British Lion

As Iron Maiden continue to veer into progressive territory there’s a refreshing directness to British Lion and, pared down, they take the most direct line to what it’s all about with tracks such as ‘Judas’ and ‘Father Lucifer’ going straight for the jugular. There’s the odd acoustic intro to add a touch of variety but have no doubts; this is a full-on, foot-on-the-monitor, horns-held-high, metal-fest. This line-up has been together for almost a decade, and they display a real chemistry with guitarists David Hawkins and Grahame Leslie firing off each other while Steve Harris and drummer Simon Dawson combine to create a hefty rhythm section, with the former displaying the same vitality that graced The Ruskin Arms in 1980.

Confidently commandeering centre stage Richard Taylor brings to life ‘Spit Fire’, a slow builder that evolves into a bellowing dragon, before putting his stamp on ‘The Chosen Ones’. Tonight’s set ebbs and flows perfectly with ‘Bible Black’ and ‘Lightning’ both whipping up an already excitable crowd. ‘Last Chance’ is the set closer but of course the band return for two well-earned encores with ‘World Without Heaven’ exploding like a musical bomb and, as British Lion drain the tank, they run on fumes for ‘Eyes Of The Young’, a song that brings down the curtain in truly raucous style and ensures no one leaves disappointed.

• Reviewed by Peter Dennis.

Airforce Set List:

1. Fight
2. Life Turns To Dust
3. Son Of The Damned
4. The Reaper
5. Heroes
6. Band Of Brothers
7. Finest Hour
8. Sniper

British Lion Set List:

British Lion

1. This Is My God
2. City Of Fallen Angels
3. Judas
4. Father Lucifer
5. The Burning
6. Legend
7. These Are The Hands
8. Spit Fire
9. The Chosen Ones
10. Land Of The Perfect People
11. Bible Black
12. Lightning
13. Us Against The World
14. Last Chance


15. World Without Heaven
16. Eyes Of The Young

Photos from KK’s Steel Mill, 3rd December 2021


  1. I saw the concert at two different venues, the one at the Craufurd Arms Milton Keynes was by far the best. The crowd were just amazing and of course the bands fed off of this to great effect. By the end of the concert my hair was all over the place and most of the make up I’d carefully applied before coming out was streaked down my face, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Fantastic performance by Airforce and British Lion, thanks guys.

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