After seeing Sabaton there on Friday, I was back at the Koko once again to witness my 20th and final gig of the year with Saxon head lining and support from Swedish kings Hammerfall. can't say I am a huge Saxon fan but I have seen them live before and they never fail to deliver. Hammerfall I have seen numerous times and they are a fun band to watch. The venue was suitably packed though probably not a sell out as they were selling tickets at the door but not far off. This was the last night of the Call to Arms world tour so I think a lot of the fans made an effort seeing as it was so close to Xmas as well.
First up we had Hammerfall for a short but sweet 45 minute set. They got a very good response from the crowd, especially the younger members of course. They played 9 songs in all including two new ones from infected which sounded much better and heavier live than they do on record. The band hasn't toured the UK yet for Infected and Joacim promised that they will be back in 2012 with a proper headline tour in support of the album. What they did play last night was the usual Hammerfall classics like Let the Hammer Fall which got the best response and mass singing of the chorus. Like I said the new songs Bang Your Head and One More Time especially sounded much better live than I remember them being on record. They left after their short set to cheers whilst the roadies got the stage ready for Saxon.
At 8.45 sharp the intro music for Saxon started and the band finally took to the stage and even though it was the last night of a long long tour it seemed as though the band was ready to give it their all one final time. Biff sounded in fine voice as they tore into Hammer of the Gods before a mammoth set list was slowly played out in fine style. can't say I am massive fan of the early Saxon era but I recognise songs as they come along and enjoy them for what they are which is some classic NWOBHM. The new album Call To Arms is also a disappointment for me being a little too classic in style. I prefer the more up to date power metal version of the band which reared it's head from time to time last night but in the main this was a night for classic Saxon which is more than understandable. The band played all of the Denim and Leather album in full although not in order as Biff indicated from the stage. This really was a marathon set from the old boys of British metal and whilst they do look quite old on stage, they do still keep delivering true heavy metal song after song, like their life depended on it.
For the first hour of the set I was very close to the front, however a call of nature and tiredness set in and I made my way to the back and finally the balcony to watch the rest of the gig from a more comfortable setting. I didn't expect the moshers to be out in force so much for a Saxon gig but the pit was a little rowdy to say the least. Finally at close to 11pm and after more than 2 hours on stage, the band finally played the last song which was Strong Arm of the Law if memory serves me correctly which included full crowd sing along to it's memorable chorus. A great way to end the gigging year with a night of pure heavy metal from two veterans of the game.