Saxon – BBC In Concert (18th September 1985 – Review)


“Did you listen to the radio every Friday night?” asked Saxon in their classic track Denim and Leather. If you did back in the 80s you might have heard this excellent live recording of Saxon’s show at the Hammersmith Odeon. Broadcast on Radio 1’s Friday Rock Show, BBC In Concert (18th September 1985) captures a difficult and interesting time in Saxon’s career as they toured to promote their controversial new album Innocence Is No Excuse.

Only a selection of the concert’s songs were broadcast so only four Innocence tracks appear here. Of those, Broken Heroes and Devil Rides Out fare best in the live setting, sitting comfortably alongside the band’s established repertoire. However, the moody Rockin’ Again is badly placed and struggles as the first encore tune. And while the catchy and upbeat Back on the Streets kicks off the broadcast well, its worth is put into question by the absolutely spine-tingling performance of Dallas 1PM that follows it.

On one hand the Innocence era tracks weaken the set but their lesser-heard nature adds to the interest for long-time Saxon fans. The rest of the broadcast is taken up by their radio-friendly classics which, with the possible exception of a tired-sounding Strong Arm of the Law, sound fresh and lively. Some of the performances here are exciting enough to make you feel like you’re hearing these songs for the first time. The versions of Dallas 1PM and Power and the Glory might be the best I’ve heard yet and older material like Wheels of Steel and Princess of the Night serve as strong reminders that this is the same band that recorded The Eagle Has Landed three years previously.

Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson
Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson

But they wouldn’t be for much longer. This would be the band’s last tour with bassist Steve Dawson. Disagreements with the band and management saw him fired before sessions began for their next studio album. It was a risky decision: Steve’s playing, performance and writing had played a crucial role in the band’s career and success.

But the problems behind the scenes are not evident in this live recording. It’s not an essential purchase but Saxon devotees are sure to get a good kick out of this. It’s an exciting and atmospheric time capsule of classic 80s Saxon out to prove their worth at a challenging time in their career. They certainly seem to have won over Hammersmith on 18th September 1985 but, with a key member gone and a couple of spotty studio albums behind them, the challenging times would continue.

This recording is available as part of the EMI Years [1985-1988] box set and also available separately as a download through iTunes, Amazon etc…

[Saxon – Back on the Streets live at Hammermith]

Saxon's Emi Years 1985 - 1988 Box
Saxon’s Emi Years 1985 – 1988 Box

36 thoughts on “Saxon – BBC In Concert (18th September 1985 – Review)”

      1. I think the last one I bought was the Party Til You Puke album I can’t recall the name right now …..Tbone bought Innocence and I thought oh oh…..

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Funnily enough I do remember hearing this when it was first broadcast and thinking ‘Hmm, Saxon, must investigate further’ – only took me 4 years to do it too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s brilliant. This slightly predates my interest in music of any sort! I wish I was a bit older so I could have caught this kind of stuff. I’m aging like a fine wine anyway so a few more years added on would only make me sexier.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I can totally believe that if this is anything to go by. I’ve also got a recording from the year you saw them. It’s from their Reading headliner but it’s edited down a lot more so not many songs. Still good though. I really wish I’d seen them back then like you did.


  2. Sounds like I’d like some of this recording. Dallas and Power are some fine Saxon tracks IMO. Saw them live in 87 as Malmsteen’s support. Didn’t know Dobbs was out of the the band. Friend who took me to the concert, unfamiliar with Saxon, remarked what great energy Saxon exhibted live. Totally agreed. Saxon had/have quite a range of cuts for listeners. I like the balance and contrast in thier sets.

    Cool intersting text, HMO.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great points Adam. There’s a lot of variety on this one for sure. I think you’d like it. It’s got a great vibe to it. I enjoyed it way more than I thought I was going to when I first heard it.


  3. SAXON!!

    Haha man, this is becoming our band, same as Deke and I have the Stones Hamptons… I will get to them, I swear!

    Still, this write-up makes it sound like an interesting set. I know more about their story, now, than I do about their music! GIVE ‘ER!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I usually do. I think most of them? Probably. I’m listening to this post’s track as I type this and am laughing at the “We’re gonna play some new songs… and YOU’RE GONNA LIKE THEM!” Haha.

        I can definitely hear 1985 metal rock in it. I like the bluesy of it. I can dig it. Actually, that track coulda been on a movie soundtrack from the time, a film about fighter jets or racing cars, or maybe boxing/martial arts… something high adrenaline with several montages in it…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Totally! Actually the video for that one had a big truck in it. But it wasn’t a very high octane action truck.

        Glad you’re getting to listen along then. I know the tracks don’t always play on everyone’s browsers. But I’ve not heard anyone complaining about that for a while so maybe that was a WP glitch that’s been fixed?


      3. Oh sure, I try to play things when I get the chance. Of course, I’m often listening ahead to the next record I’m gonna review while I read everyone else’s posts, so I might not ALWAYS click every tune and video… 🙂

        I wasn’t aware that there was an issue with the tracks. I know videos from Youtube lay fine, and any time I click on your MP3s they play fine. I’m using Safari (updated to current).

        One other thing I was gonna say, one track here or there is cool, and usually makes me wanna get a whole album to try. I go by recommendations from all the fine laddies (and lassie) that frequent the pages. Also, the frequency with which a band appears in the posts usually indicates a favourite. Based on this, here at HMO, I guess I oughta own ALL the Manowar and Saxon by now, eh? Haha

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah I find it hard to listen to everyone’s vids etc… Sometimes, like you say, it’s enough just to go recommendations. Bit is best to listen to anything I recommend before you buy though. A lot of the stuff I like is just shite!

        Cool. I wasn’t checking up on you or anything. Just wanted to make sure you knew the tracks were there and that they are working ok.


      5. Haha not checking up on me? You mean you’re NOT stalking me?

        It’s all good, I’ve had enough experiences with WP that it’s becoming good policy to check in now and again, make sure things work! Also, it’s usually Sarca that sorts things out. She’s a wizard, I think.

        I also highly dout most things you listen to are shite, or you wouldn’t listen!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I believe this is in amongst a pile of Sacon stuff a friend threw my way. Will rifle through it (when I’m more awake!) and get it listened to.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Continuing to enjoy and look forward to each new edition of the Saxon series. As for the BBC 1 “Friday Rock Shows,” I hope you all recognize how lucky you were in those pre-internet days with your “socialist” radio. We didn’t have anything even coming close to it stateside. Hence the relative lack of U.S. radio broadcast stuff out there as compared to all the glories from the BBC vaults!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you’re still enjoying them Mr. Fury! And great point about the Beeb. They had some brilliant stuff. A lot of my favorite live recordings come from those archives… and all the sessions etc… And they seemed to have an ear to the underground too which is amazing, thinking back. Bands like Napalm Death got their big breaks through John Peel and stuff like that.


    1. I think Dawson’s ‘tache might have been the real reason he was fired. He had such an amazing one. Almost Magnum-esque. And after he was gone Graham Oliver shaved his off too. Probably at the behest of the management. Saxon was a ‘tache-free zone from now on!

      And this isn’t the oddest period in Saxon’s history either! That’s still to come… a couple of albums from now.

      Liked by 1 person

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