Live Gig Review and All Photos by Zenae D. Zukowski
Heavy metal and hard rock wouldn’t be the same without UFO and Saxon’s existence. Some would say, UFO were the roots to Saxon leading the way as one of the pioneers of the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM). Both band’s inspired contemporary acts with either bluesy hard-hitting riffs or rolling some heavy metal thunder. With that said, seeing the two form somewhat of a British invasion with an American tour, you’d expect a royal treat. The tour kicked off on March 9 in Houston Texas and concluded on April 2nd in Allston, Massachusetts. The bands stopped in NYC for two nights in a row and we were there for the second evening on March 30th at BB Kings, presented by Eddie Trunk and Q104.3.
The show began promptly at 7 pm, and despite doors opening at 6, I showed up around 6:30 and noticed a large line outside. I’ve seen BB Kings full before. However, this evening, the sold-out event filled the venue from end to end. With such bold history from both bands, you should know to never mess with their veteran fans. Let’s just say, even if you are extremely short in height, fans would not budge that night. The only area I was able to stand was on the stairs, making me tall enough to see the stage while feeling like a gatekeeper.
The evening kicked off on a bluesy note with Jared James Nichols who admitted it was their second time performing at BB Kings, making the prior night their first. Nichols brought in a crisp sound with killer riffs and relaxed jams during songs “Don’t You Try,” “Can You Feel It?” and closing with the Mountain cover of “Mississippi Queen.”
The overly packed crowd had an enjoyable energy surrounding them while many rapidly filled their stomachs with intoxication. It was fun to see the same people pass me by the stairs, and each time their words slurred just a little bit more. After this amusing observation, it was time for Eddie Trunk to introduce Saxon. Frontman Biff Byford was on fire that night delivering music across their extended career including the title track of their 21st album 2015’s ‘Battering Ram.’ The crowd would either raise a beer, cell phone, or fist throughout the entire set while singing along to all of the songs. The band felt the crowd’s energy as they changed the setlist for them as they performed “Motorcycle Man” as a tribute for the late Lemmy Kilmister. Cell phones were flying in the air and at one point, Byford grabbed a fan’s phone and managed to capture a few images or video.
The energy was non-stop and on point especially during the abrasive performance of “Wheels of Steel.” Despite telling the crowd it was time to leave, they gave three classic songs. Everyone was eager to hear “Never Surrender,” “Denim and Leather,” and the epic track “Princess of the Night.” The crowd’s faces were lit up and it only proved Saxon exceeded everyone’s expectations.
While a few fans had one too many drinks, forgetting to see the stairs and falling, it was time for Eddie Trunk to take the stage. This time, he couldn’t contain himself and turned into a fanboy while announcing one of his favorite bands of all time, UFO. The vibe in the room cooled down to more hard rock and blues as Phil Mogg embarked the stage with a glowing smile during songs “We Belong to the Night,” and “Long Gone.” The crowd continued to raise their cell phones, grabbing captivating video of the historic evening. Songs continued to swing by showcasing their career including “Run Boy Run” from their 21st album 2015’s A Conspiracy of Stars. Other songs included “Only You Can Rock Me,” “Burn Your House Down,” and “Too Hot to Handle.” UFO pulled off a special extended encore with songs “Cherry,” and “Doctor Doctor.” The audience begged to hear “Mother Mary” and at their request, they surprised them with the tune and closed the night with their classic song “Shoot Shoot.”
The evening began and ended on a bluesy classic note, one who just started his career (Jared James Nichols) and another who (sort of) pioneered the genre (UFO). Meanwhile, Saxon crushed the entire evening making it one memorable night.