Erstwhile British legends Saxon and UFO took a swing through the House of Blues with new rocker Jared James Nichols in tow on Tuesday night. Opening act Nichols, a Wisconsin-bred shredder, was backed by two Swedes; their combination was an interesting blend of American heartland Rock with a dash of northern European soul. Following in the footsteps of rockers playing sold-out stadiums a decade or so before this trio was even born, this is one outfit in which keep your peepers glued.
The House of Blues, packed to the rafters with a mostly-male, late-middle aged audience, saw the stalwart British metalers Saxon take the stage right on time. They played all of their hits and left the audience thinking of better days…before Cialis and when most of them had their hair and, perhaps, intact first marriages. On-hand EMTs had to come to the aid of three different attendees; the humidity, amps-that-went-to-11, and the late hour of the evening sent a handful of these glory-dazed into medical distress.
Frontman “Biff” Byford, wrapped in a leather duster, took to the mic stand with the imposing gait of a Viking chieftain. He held court for the better part of an hour as guitarist Paul Quinn, another original member, shredded to his immediate left. The more recent members of Saxon have been a part of this ’70s outfit since at least the Reagan years, while newbie Doug Scarratt is the rookie; he’s only been with the band for about two decades. They started their thirteen-song set with “Battering Ram” and ended with “Princess of the Night.”
UFO, who formed in the late 1960s and has been a presence in popular music one way or another since that time, took to the stage as the headliner of this tour. Lead vocalist Phil Mogg impressed with a shiny chrome dome and the veneer of a Harry Potter villain, swung the mic stand around like his own magical wand. His swagger to and fro was a unique counterbalance to the swirl of constantly-changing stage lighting. The band started the night with “Mother Mary” and “Run Boy Run” and then took us through mid-set offerings like “Too Hot to Handle,” “Messiah of Love” and “Burn Your House Down” before ending the show with a three-tune encore including “Doctor Doctor” and “Shoot Shoot.” I guess they have a thing for titles that echo.