Support act Cheetah, a female fronted rock band from Australia,promoting their debut (and only?) album “Rock & Roll Women”. Apart from the minor hit single “Spend The Night”, my abiding memory of them was of the way they looked rather than the music itself – teenage boys eh?!
On to the main event, Saxon. By this time the boys from Yorkshire had had four albums in the UK top twenty. “Wheels Of Steel” hit number 5, “Strong Arm Of The Law” made number 11, “Denim And Leather” reached number 9 and the live album “The Eagle Has Landed” also got to number 5.
The band also had a handful of hit singles (together with appearances on BBC’s “Top Of The Pops”), and had recently been third on the bill of the Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington, below Gillan and headliners Status Quo (Saxon had previously played the very first Monsters Of Rock in 1980, fifth on the bill headlined by Rainbow).
I remember that the band were very loud, and being very impressed by the lighting rigand pyro – not forgetting drummer Nigel Glockler’s burning drumsticks at one point! Biff Byford’s vocals were powerful and majestic, and the guitar interplay between Paul Quinn and Graham Oliver excellent. Steve Dawson’s bass playing anchoring everything along with the drumming – a band at the top of their game.
Highlights of the set were “And The Bands Played On”, “Wheels Of Steel”, and “747 (Strangers In The Night)”, but the album tracks “Dallas 1 PM” and the then-unreleased “The Eagle Has Landed” were atmospheric and, if the case of the latter, very heavy. All in all, a brilliant start way to first experience music in the live arena!
Although lost in the mists of time, it seems likely that the setlist ran something like this:
1. Motorcycle Man / 2. Princess Of The Night / 3. Never Surrender / 4. Hungry Years / 5. 20,000 Ft. / 6. The Eagle Has Landed / 7. Heavy Metal Thunder / 8. Drum Solo / 9. Strong Arm Of The Law / 10. Guitar Solo / 11. 747 (Strangers In The Night) / 12. Wheels Of Steel / 13. Dallas 1 PM / 14. Suzie Hold On / 15. Denim And Leather/ 16. And The Bands Played On
1, 11, 12 and 14 originally from “Wheels Of Steel” (1980) / 2, 3, 15 and 16 originally from “Denim And Leather” (1981) / 4, 5, 7, 9 and 13 originally from “Strong Arm Of The Law” (1980) / 6 originally from “Power & The Glory” (1983)