NEPA Scene Staff

British hard rock legends Saxon and Uriah Heep give ‘Hell’ to Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe on May 2

British hard rock legends Saxon and Uriah Heep give ‘Hell’ to Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe on May 2
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From a press release:

Billed as “the best of British rock and metal,” it was announced today that Saxon and Uriah Heep will co-headline a concert at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe on Thursday, May 2 as part of their Hell, Fire & Chaos Tour, which follows their European run opening for Judas Priest.

Saxon was formed in 1979 and became leaders in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement alongside bands such as Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, serving as an influence to the likes of Metallica, Pantera, and more. Touring in support their 24th studio album “Hell, Fire and Damnation,” set for release next week on Jan. 19, they still perform at the top of their game decades later.

Headlining many major rock festivals annually in Europe as well as keeping an extensive touring commitment around the world, their massive and loyal fan base continues to grow, and the group don’t look as though they are slowing down at any point soon. Their setlist will consist of all their classic tracks, such as “Wheels of Steel,” “747 (Strangers in the Night),” “Strong Arm of the Law,” “Power and the Glory,” “Denim and Leather,” and “Princess of the Night.”

Uriah Heep is currently into their 54th year and has never stopped. With a catalog that includes 25 studio albums, they are touring to promote their 2023 release “Chaos & Colour” that received rave reviews from both fans and media worldwide.

As part of the “Big Four” of the 1970s, which included Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, they were pioneers in the hard rock field and an inspiration to many major touring and recording artists to this day. The band still tours around the world, with 63 countries currently under their belt. Having sold over 40 million records, fans old and new flock to shows and festival appearances to experience classic hits like “Easy Livin’,” “Gypsy,” “Stealin’,” “Sweet Lorraine,” and “July Morning.”

Doors at Penn’s Peak (325 Maury Rd., Jim Thorpe) open at 7 p.m., and the music starts at 8 p.m.

Tickets, which are $35 in advance or $40 at the door, go on sale this Friday, Jan. 12 at 10 a.m. via all Ticketmaster outlets, the Penn’s Peak box office, and Roadies Restaurant and Bar (325 Maury Rd., Jim Thorpe). Box office and Roadies Restaurant ticket sales are walk-up only; no phone orders.

When internationally renowned actor Brian Blessed delivers a proclamation for opening track “The Prophecy,” expectations are automatically high for Saxon’s latest album. Have no fear and make no mistake – they meet and exceed them with “Hell, Fire and Damnation.”

Lead singer and founding member Biff Byford reminisces when asked about the title of the brand new release via Silver Lining Music.

“I’ve had that saying in my head since I was a small boy because my dad used to say it when he was upset,” he smiled.

“He used to say, ‘Hell, fire, and damnation, what’s tha’ been doing now?!’ when I was ‘messing up his cabbage patch’ or carving things into the kitchen table. It was a very ‘Yorkshire’ saying back in the day.”

The title track is a superlative British heavy metal classic exploring the juxtaposition between good and evil.

“There’s so much music out there about hell and the devil and the occult that I just thought it’s about time somebody wrote one about the battle just between good and evil!” he explained.

“You can’t sing about the devil without singing about the good guy either, and the song basically says ‘make your choice.’ We all have to make the choice, are we evil or are we good? The song’s about that fight.”

“Hell, Fire and Damnation” is a record that sees Saxon investigate all areas of history and mystery amidst 10 of their most confident and thunderously powerful songs yet. Byford delivers his richest vocals in years, Nigel Glockler and Nibbs Carter on drums and bass, respectively, lay down the rhythmic law with bombastic power, and the guitars of Doug Scarratt and Brian Tatler are fresh and fiery, a perfect complement to each other, carrying an overall energy and fury which will have fans salivating. Musically, the group brings it all to the table.

There’s a furious tribute to actual heavy metal in the denim-and-leather-coated super-sprint “Fire and Steel,” a wonderful nod to the NWOBHM’s birth in the electric mid-pace “Pirates of the Airwaves,” but maybe the true treasure among the jewels is “There’s Something in Roswell,” with the sort of expansive groove and embrace that deserves arenas.

Produced by Andy Sneap (Judas Priest, Exodus, Accept) and Byford, with Sneap mixing and mastering, the album strides the perfect line between confident, current power, and gloriously irreverent flexing of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal muscle co-created by Saxon.

“I think this album’s one of the best he’s done sound-wise, and he’s done a lot of albums,” Byford declared.

“It has a really raw, vibrant sound. … If you compress the total time making this album, it was four weeks tops. … You can hear everything brilliantly, nothing’s overcomplicated, nothing’s overcompressed. The guitar sounds are fucking immense; they’re just great, raw guitar sounds. And we haven’t done a lot of overdubbing on there; it’s just playing. I really, really like it.”

2024 promises to be a great year for Saxon, with their European tour opening for Judas Priest alongside Uriah Heep kicking off in the United Kingdom in March, followed by their own full United States tour in April and May to hail the arrival of their newest heavy metal masterpiece.

“Getting these shows in March 2024 with Judas Priest and Uriah Heep meant it made sense to push and get the album made faster,” Byford said, “so we got on with it in haste and pulled it out of the bag. It was tricky, but I think it’s safe to say we managed it well.”

English hard rock progenitors Uriah Heep – Mick Box (guitar), Bernie Shaw (vocals), Phil Lanzon (keyboard), Russell Gilbrook (drums), and Dave Rimmer (bass) – released their 25th studio album, “Chaos & Colour,” on Jan. 27, 2023 via Silver Lining Music. It features the buoyant and blistering lead single “Save Me Tonight” with an animated music video by Natalia Jonderko Śmiechowicz (Motörhead, Dokken, Alcatrazz, Elegant Weapons, Girlschool).

“‘Save Me Tonight’ is another powerful melodic rock track which we have chosen to be the first single as well as the opening track of the album,” said Box, Uriah Heep’s venerable and effervescent founding member.

“It is made for rock radio and will surely be included on our new setlist.”

“‘Save Me Tonight’ comes from a place of frustration and helplessness” added co-writer and bass player Rimmer, “living through these unprecedented past couple of years but hanging on to this raging hope that we would all meet again! Once again, collaborating with Jeff Scott Soto has been a natural and very creative experience and the perfect platform for me to express these feelings and to carry on the Heep legacy.”

“Chaos & Colour” bristles with explosive classic rock guitars, supreme harmonies, and Heep’s famously generous keyboard foundation. It is, unsurprisingly, an album that found its extra thrust during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was as bizarre for the band as it was for humanity in general.

“The album title reflects that we were in chaotic times with being locked down, tours being canceled, businesses folding, and all the chaos that was thrown into the world,” Box explained.

“And as far as I could see it, the only color people had was through music. It helped so many people get through those difficult years, using that strength and power which music has – to make those bad times not quite so bad.”

There was still the looming specter of protocols and rules to follow in the middle of 2021 as the world tried to find its feet. The quintet slowly found their way into Chapel Studios in London during that summer as restrictions were tentatively lifted, working once again with Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Corey Taylor, Black Star Riders).

“Jay was completely on board with what we are trying to achieve in the studio,” Box noted.

“We’re a band that has a fantastic heritage and, to carry on that tradition, it was vitally important that the band recorded in the studio all playing at the same time. Jay understood that, and he pulled out the best of us as a band, as well as individual players, while getting us some amazing sounds.”

Led by Box, it is no surprise that themes of light, love and, ultimately, positivity are constant through the 11 tracks. “One Nation, One Sun” is a journey of soaring balladic contemplation. “Fly Like an Eagle” takes the listener on a journey of meditation, while “Closer to Your Dreams” is a battle cry for all rockers to get out there and do it, with Shaw imploring that, “So many have tried but slipped away / Now it’s time for you to have your say.” During the entire album, his timeless vocals sit expertly beside the group’s phenomenal artistry, rounding out exceptional performances throughout.

Produced by Jay Ruston and engineered by Pieter Rietkerk, “Chaos & Colour” is a superb record of quality hard rock from pioneers of the genre who continue to create top-class material. Old fans will be reinvigorated while new fans will surely find an exceptional discovery.