What I said back then:
Oh, I wish it wasn’t them, really. Although, having said that it could have been a lot worse. They were – still are, it seems – a decent, hard working bunch of lads from Yorkshire who liked their music loud. Bloody loud. And early 1980, this was the next new thing – the (ahem) New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
I thought it might be a passing phase, something which captured my interest for a few months like everything else I had liked up to then, but this one stuck. Maybe it says something about me at the time – leaving home, fending for myself in the big city, being forced to grow up – I seemed to take refuge in a kind of music which, while viscerally enjoyable, was a long way from the more thoughtful stuff I used to like. It’s a long way even from the recent punk and new wave music which could be just as noisy and obstreperous. For some time afterwards, I pretended to myself that this phase hadn’t really happened, and recently some of it has become fashionable in a kind of post-modern, ironic sort of way. And of course, as with any genre of popular music, there are those for whom it has never been away.
So why Saxon, particularly? Because they were the first. The first band I grabbed at when my friends started liking this stuff – pretty much at random, I think; and the first band I ever saw in concert. So they have to be here. And I remember the noise and the mayhem, the heat and the sweat; and I remember thinking I had never experienced anything like this, and I wanted more. Like I say, visceral. And, no – I’m not really embarrassed, it’s just who I was back then. I might even go and listen to some – for old times’ sake…
What I think now:
I don’t know; I still sound a bit embarrassed by it… Looking back on that phase of my life does make me smile now – for a short space of time I think I was determined to be the world’s most denim-clad headbanger, and yet, I could never quite carry it off – my hair was never long enough, I never did buy the denim jacket or save up for a leather one. I never even sewed a beer towel on to my jeans; just not that committed, I guess. I do hear some of the music now and think that it still stands up, although there’s plenty that really doesn’t. What was I thinking? Also, I’d like to apologise to any of my neighbours in halls in the early eighties – you must have been driven crazy by some of this terrible music.
I am deeply impressed that Saxon are still going strong, however – I don’t exactly feel obliged to listen to anything recent, but it’s good to know that you can make a career out of doing that, and still appear to be having fun.
Oh, and I did miss one Saxon memory – in 1982, a friend and I plodded along to the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington. The less said about the day the better, I think – festivals then were somewhat more basic than festivals now – but I do remember Saxon playing ‘747’, and then an actual 747 passing low overhead on its way to East Midlands airport. During the wrong song, of course, but it raised a laugh…
I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to find and digitally own Saxon material. I suppose I wouldn’t object to some of it, and I find I do have a copy of ‘747’. But all in all, it’s a part of my life which has passed by generally unmourned.