Saxon & UFO, BB King’s, NYC, 3.29.17

by Michael Sherer
Posted: Apr 2017
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UFO - photo by Michael Sherer

UFO - photo by Michael Sherer

With UFO being around since ‘69 and Saxon since ‘77, some vintage British hard rock rolled into NYC at BB King’s in Times Square. Saxon opened, and played their hits such as Denim and leather, Wheels Of Steel, Princess Of The Night, Crusader, Motorcycle Man and Strong Arm Of The Law.

Saxon are a prominent band in the movement called New Wave Of British Metal (NWOBM) that came about in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. Iron Maiden also came out of this movement and would go on to have the most mainstream and worldwide success. British Journalist Geoff Barton coined the term in a May 1979 issue of the British music newspaper Sounds to describe the emergence of new heavy metal bands in the late 1970s, coinciding with the period of punk rock’s decline and the dominance of new wave music.

Saxon’s frontman/vocalist Biff Byford and guitarist Paul Quinn are the only original members left, with Byford being highly recognizable with his long hair and being quite tall. They sounded very good, and Byford still has his voice. They laid down their solid and heavy rock and roll. They’ve had to hold their own when they opened for one of the heaviest, fastest and most influential of bands of the ‘70’s and beyond, that being Motorhead. Byford and Motorhead’s bassist, vocalist and leader, the late Lemmy, became close friends. I’m sure this means a lot to Byford.

UFO also only has two original members, that being vocalist Phil Mogg and drummer Andy Parker, although Parker was away from the band for years. Keyboardist and guitarist joined in ‘76, and he’s still in the band. They of course played their hits such as Lights Out, Too Hot to Handle, Love To Love, Doctor Doctor and Rock Bottom, which had been guitarist Michael Schenker’s showcase in the ‘70’s. Vinnie Moore has had the main guitar duties since ‘04. The band has had dozens of members come and go, with Mogg being the only constant the whole time. All the musicians in this band sounded great, and this is a group that’s always been more about the music than anything else.

Mogg looked different than the last time I saw him in that he shaved his head. But he still has the fine voice and his sense of humor. Of course the British have their own interpretation of humor, but both these bands from England aren’t joking around when comes to rocking their audiences and leaving them hot and handled.