Generation(s) Metal: Saxon / Fozzy / Halcyon Way / The Unity Live

Waterloo, IA, USA; September 24, 2013

by Paul Hanson

Probably 150 people came to see the tour that rolled into Spicoli's in Waterloo, Iowa last week, but for those 150 people, seeing a legendary metal band like Saxon play in an intimate club setting was worth every penny for a ticket.


The Unity, Halcyon Way, and Fozzy warmed up for Saxon. Each band had high points. After slaying through their original songs, The Unity ended their short set with a note-for-note worship of Iron Maiden's "The Number Of The Beast" as the approving crowd roared. Next up was Halcyon Way, who rocked the stage with their material, including the excellent "Web of Lies." Following them came Fozzy, led by WWE superstar Chris Jericho and his charisma. Songs like "She's My Addiction" and "Sin And Bones" were highlights of their set.

saxon_biff_3_350But the highest point of the night was when legendary heavy metal band Saxon came to the stage with the sole intention of satisfying the crowd that did manage to find out they were going to be in town. A club like Spicoli's is a long way from the festivals and hundreds of thousands of fans that routinely attend metal festivals to see bills that often include Saxon. You couldn't tell that by the energy and authority with which lead vocalist Biff Byford commanded the cramped stage. Byford told us that Saxon has played in front of 100,000 people and in front of 100 people and as long as there was an audience, they would continue to play. That makes me hope that they will return to my area prior to calling it a day.

Essentially, Byford directs traffic by being the only one to address the crowd directly. His vocals didn't sound strained and his stage presence was precise. I didn't get the feeling that he was on auto-pilot because of the small stage and the small crowd. Instead, Byford made light of the situation and said that they weren't going to play an encore because there was no place to go so they would just keep playing. Original guitarist Paul Quinn, guitarist Doug Scarratt, and bassist Nibbs Carter put drummer Nigel Glockler through his paces with the fast tempos that came song after song. The band achieved instant respect from the first measure with the musicianship that came out of the PA system.

And to be clear, Saxon is required listening if you want to speak intelligently about the metal genre. Only after absorbing the attitude described in their classic songs like "Denim And Leather," "Motorcycle Man," and "Princess Of The Night" can you appreciate the modern heavy metal bands like Metallica, or Lamb Of God, or Avenged Sevenfold, who, in some capacity, can be traced back to Saxon's discography that began with their self-titled debut in 1979. After 16 songs, Saxon left the stage with fans hoping they will return to Waterloo again in the future.

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