Returning to Dublin for the first time since 2016, the Irish capital proved the starting point for the European leg of the 'Seize the Day' world tour, with the grand surroundings of the Olympia Theatre a fitting venue for such British metal royalty.
“This is a beautiful theatre”, comments front man Biff Byford, taking in his surroundings. It's the first time that Saxon have played in the Olympia, and as regular visitors to the smaller, and much less opulent Academy, even the band seemed taken aback to be playing in such splendour.
Kicking off with a commanding start, the title track from latest album 'Carpe Diem', blasted the doors open, with the band receiving a hero’s welcome.
"How are you feeling?", enquired Byford ahead of the first of a slew of classics, in the immortal biker anthem 'Motorcycle Man'; “It's good to be back in Dublin, It's been an fucking long time!", he continued before confessing; "we went to Temple Bar last night drinking Guinness... Fucking hell!"
Although a serious metal act, some tomfoolery arrived when a patch jacket was lobbed towards the stage. Grabbing guitarist Doug Scarratt's six-string when the player paused to don the denim, Byford strummed out the riff to 'Wheels of Steel' - which would follow later - to the delight of the crowd.
Charging straight into 'Never Surrender', the Barnsley man said simply; “you know this one!". A scorching ‘Dallas 1pm’, followed, along with a red hot ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’.
Mixing things up, an unplanned addition of ‘Sacrifice’ followed, in honour of the tenth anniversary of the album’s release. “We like anniversary and birthdays and stuff like that”, joked the always dry-humoured Byford.
Following a rare outing for deep cut ‘Metalhead’ – which returned to the set in 2022 following a two-decade absence – an audience vote saw both ‘Crusader’ and ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ get an airing. “WOW, I wasn't expecting that!”, exclaimed Biff at the reaction; “I've got to say, this is one of the best times we've played in Dublin”.
With a poignant dedication to his son via ‘Living on the Limit’, it was wall to wall classics from there on, including a rollocking ‘Wheels of Steel’, arresting ‘Strong Arm of the Law’, and immortal ‘747 (Strangers in the Night)’.
Sticking to the same setlist as Dublin, it may have appeared business as usual, but it was anything but. “Well, look at all you people! You’ll never get enough people for the Ulster Hall, and we’re fucking here now!”, announced Byford, in a dig at doubters who had suggested the venue was too big for the band.
With a driving momentum on the stage, it’s easy to forget Saxon have been stalwarts of the metal music scene for over four decades, with the current line up - completed by guitarist Paul Quinn, bassist Nibs Carter, and drummer Nigel Glockler - the most enduing of their tenure.
With a ferocious twenty-two track set list spanning entire entire career, Saxon transcend the generations - as noted by Byford at the mix of both young and old faces at both shows.
There are few bands as dependable as Saxon, and once again they delivered. Miss the ‘Seize the Day Tour’ at your peril.