Saxon at Manchester Apollo

Review by Philip Goddard

Photos by Ange Cobham

I seemed to have waited forever for this gig to finally come around, a 40th Anniversary ( now 42 ) of the band became a victim of covid. Possibly one of the best line ups in years in Manchesters best venue.
Formed in Barnsley in the late seventies, Saxon were Headlining a sold out Manchester Apollo, their support was quality too……Diamond Head, Girlschool andRock Legends‘ Uriah Heep.

For a Friday night, these were very early set times, when Diamond Head came on stage, the place was filling up, some fans probably still in the shower after work.

Diamond Head

A band also formed in the seventies, Diamond Head, now fronted by Rasmus Bom Anderson got a massive cheer when they came out and lit the fire that would end with Saxon nearly 5 hours later.

Diamond Head

They came on stage to Bones, followed by The Messenger, Lightning to the Nations, Sweet and Innocent, Helpless and finishing on Am I Evil. As expected they were massively enjoyed by the crowd, Diamond Head may not have been commercially successful but do have a healthy following.

Diamond Head

Next up was GirlSchool, I’ve seen these a few times and yet another band formed in the late Seventies. They opened up with Demolition Boys but soon managed to play my personal favourite Guilty as Sin.


Cover songs Race with the Devil and Bomber followed and they ended with Emergency. Girlschool are always a class act and they got a ‘Nearly Full’ Apollo to play in front of.


Uriah Heep then graced the stage after a short break, another band from the Seventies, well actually formed in the Sixties. Mick Box being the only member from the formation in 69.

Bernie Shaw

Opening with Grazed by Heaven, Vocalist Bernie Shaw, who is actually 65 years old was belting the songs out. A seven song set including Look at Yourself, July Morning and ending with Easy Livin’.
I saw these guys at Ramblin’ Man Fair in 2016 and after this performance I am definitely going to go see them headline a gig.

Uriah Heep

Finally, Saxon 🤘🤪🖕

I was actually gobsmacked when Biff said he was 71!!!  I have a coughing fit when I shout and I’m only 48, how the hell he hits them notes at 71 ( could be 72 he joked ) is a mystery. 

Biff Byford

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Saxon live, I had high expectations for the show and wasn’t left disappointed. I won’t go on about what songs they played because I suspect 99% of people reading this was there.

First there was a slideshow of the last 40 years of Saxon, some great nostalgic pics in a 5 decade spanning career.

Saxon were flawless as usual and the Manchester Apollo is the perfect venue for them.

Doug Scarratt

Doug Scarratt, doesn’t even look like he’s trying cos he plays with such confidence, Tim Carter, I’m not even sure if I saw his face, his head never stopped banging like his Bass.

Tim Carter

Biff Byford, the man does not age, even wearing a large Denim Coat Full of Patches, passed from the crowd. Denim Jackets are almost like Historical Tapestries when they are full. I’m pretty sure he said they were planning a Tour later this year, don’t hold me to that as I’d hit the bar.

Thank you again Saxon


Motorcycle Man
Battering Ram
Wheels of Steel
They Played Rock and Roll
Strong Arm of the Law
Denim and Leather
Backs to the Wall
The Eagle Has Landed
Never Surrender
Dogs of War / Solid Ball of Rock
And the Bands Played On
To Hell and Back Again
Power and the Glory
Heavy Metal Thunder



Encore 2:

747 (Strangers in the Night)
Princess of the Night


Philip Goddard

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