UFO / SAXON – British Thunder & Lightning Rocks Cleveland!

March 29, 2017, 8 months ago

Photos by: Joe Kleon / Words by: Nick Balazs

gallery hard rock heavy metal ufo saxon

It’s thunder and lightning; it’s the hammer to build the home and the brush to make it look nice; it’s the stinging Saxon and the flowing UFO – two British legends on a co-headlining jaunt across North America. The House Of Blues in downtown Cleveland was packed head-to-toe with aging metal heads and a few young-ins tossed in. 

Saxon was the match that lit the metal fire with a 13 song set ranging from the title track to their latest album Battering Ram to stone cold classics like “Crusader” to the ‘90s cut “Solid Ball Rock” which Biff Byford referred to that era as the “dark ages.” Byford, cloaked in a black button-down jacket, was very animated on this particular night and more than willing to interact with the crowd like spotting an 11-year-old kid in attendance and bringing attention to him. He also beckoned a fan to hand him a Saxon banner that read “This Town Rocks” and was from way back in 1984 according to the fan. In a change of pace, Byford had the fans choose what the band would play from a total of four choices on two different occasions. The winners – “20,000 Ft” and “Strong Arm Of The Law”. Saxon finished as they only could, with “Denim And Leather” and “Princess Of The Night”. 

Saxon alone was worth the price of admission, but UFO was the cherry on top and it makes sense. Saxon is like the steak with bruising, loud and in-your-face metal while UFO is the dessert, they’re sweeter, more accessible, but still packs a punch. Guitarist Vinnie Moore was the star of the show, being the youngest member of the band and replicating those Michael Schenker licks to a T. Vocalist Phil Mogg was in a dress shirt and was very gentlemanly throughout the night. UFO kept things mostly seated in the ‘70s except for a couple of the latest A Conspiracy Of Stars (“Run Boy Run”, “Messiah Of Love”). Of course you have to hear the lit up “Lights Out” (third in the set which was a surprise!), “Let It Roll”, and the uber-catchy “Only You Can Rock Me”. If you don’t like “Rock Bottom” then you just don’t like rock ‘n’ roll. One of the finest riffs to ever come out of rock and the Vinnie showcased his chops on the long jam. The encore featured “Cherry”, the blood-pumping “Doctor Doctor” and an elongated “Shoot Shoot”. Only a few dates left in the jaunt; don’t miss it! 

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