Saga has been around for over 30 years. Now they are touring to promote their latest album 20/20. This new album features the return of original singer Michael Sadler. Looking back he never really left, 20 albums and only one without sadler. I still like the album The human Condition and Rob Moratti did an excellent job replacing Sadler. But I guess in the end when a man like Michael Sadler wants to return then you invite him back with open arms.
When I heard the new album for the first time I remember being completely underwhelmed. I really liked the new sound on The Human Condition and the sound on 20/20 was a step back to the 'normal' Saga sound. Also the songs did not grab me, I thought: "well okay, this is the new Saga album. Next please!" After a couple of spins the tunes graduately crawled under my skin and after a while I really started to like this album. I still have Trust as my favourite Saga album but if I play a Saga album nowadays then 20/20 is the one I will be playing.
There was no support act and fifteen minutes before the start of the show it was not really crowded. In these last minutes lots of people moved from bar and/or smoking area towards the concert hall and it became nicely packed, it was not sold out but a good turn up. Behind the instruments there was a big flag with the alien from the Full Circle album. And boy did they have many instruments. I counted 8 keyboards, they used them all so it must be necessary. Bass player Jim Crichton changed back and forth from Moog to his bass. Only once he handed the bass to Michael Sadler, that was for Another One Bites To dust, ah no, that was a Saga joke, Sadler plays bass on Humble Stance. A crowd favourite for a reason I still do not really understand, nice song but not really outstanding in my opinion.
The gig started with Anywhere You Wanna Go, the second song on the new album and the perfect song to start the concert. I think they should have made it the first song on the album, it is catchy, strong and right in your face, exactly what an opening song should be like. This being the 20/20 tour I thought they would start with a couple of songs from the new album but I was completely wrong. The next three songs were completely unknown to me, all three songs were from Saga's first three albums, each album one song.
My interest for Saga started halfway during the nineties and the 'old songs' I know are on The Very Best Of which was released in 1994. You're Not Alone was on that compilation album so I could join in with the singing. This time the audience was not split right in the middle but this time it was the girls against the boys. The boys of course won in quantity but the girls gave it their best shot.
Finally back to the new album again. Spin It Again is one of my favourite songs from the new album. Another powerful song the really rocks when performed live. "It's time to make some big big noise" are perfect lyrics for a concert. Sadler showed he is a great singer, he has a great voice and he sings with so much passion. His movements are intense and his performance as a frontman is outstanding. Big credits to Rob Moratti for replacing him but Sadler showed he is THE vocalist of Saga.
Then it was showtime. Michael Sadler left the stage and the rest rocked the place. In a fast pace they all showed their skills one at a time. Drummer Mike Thorne got a solo spot later on in the show just like Jim Gilmour so in this solospot the brothers Crichton were the ones with the most front time. Later on Mike Thorne got his minutes of fame and got Zoetermeer clapping. Must mention that the sound was excellent, best sound I have heard in a long time. During the instrumental showoff they played many tune with guitar and keyboard simultaneously and it was crystal clear. I brought my earplugs but I left them in my pocket, excellent quantity and quality of sound.
Saga really chose some old songs in their setlist tonight, The Flyer is from their fifth album Heads Or Tales from 1983. Again a lot of singing from the audience. Sadler asked if there were people who saw Saga for the first time this evening but there were not that many "Saga virgins" in the audience tonight. Six Feet Under is the opening track for 20/20 and the third and last song from their latest album they would be playing this evening. Personally I would have liked some more new songs, I really missed songs like Lost For Words, Ball And Chain and Show And Tell. I like old familiar and unfamiliar songs but three songs from the new album seems not that much. The choice of setlist is always debatable and highly personal.
The Cross from Generation 13 is my favourite from that album, the album that got me introduced to Saga. Very theatrical performance by Sadler and good vocals by Gilmour. I never realized Gilmour sang that much and he certainly does a fine job.
On Time's Up but especially on Scratching The Surface Gilmour showed that he can also do the lead vocals instead of only backing vocals. After a bit of a mixup, Sadler successively started some different songs constantly stopping after a few tunes, they played Tired World. Again from the very first Saga album and again completely unknown to me.
From that point Saga was "not wrapping it up" but they were working their way to the end of the show. Three songs that can be classified as "Saga classics", songs that get the crowd moving and singing. Humble Stance was, as stated before, performed with Michael Sadler on bass and Jim Crichton behind a couple of keyboards. On The Loose is THE live track for Saga and that was clearly noticeable.
During Humble Stance I moved from the right to the left but also a bit from the front more to the back. The left side was more crowded so I had to stay a bit in the back but that also gave me a clear view on all the people enjoying the concert and they were really "On The Loose". After loosening things down it was time to Wind Him Up, another great crowd pleaser.
Saga came back for an encore. They ended with Don't Be Late from the Silent Knight album. Again completely unknown to me but many others were singing along. The concert started early without support so we all were not going to be late. So the concert ended early and not with a bang but that did not matter, there was enough to enjoy this evening.
Saga proved that after more than thirty years they are still going very strong. The new album 20/20 shows they are still one of the leading progressive rock acts around. Only three songs from the new album which leaves a lot of room for old classics. For me they are really back. Driving back and from the concert I played Saga CD's and at work I still listen to a lot of Saga. I guess that is what it is all about. Enjoying music over and over again and reliving the concert over and over again. Let's Spin It Again!!!
Anywhere You Wanna Go
Mouse in a Maze
Careful Where You Step
You're Not Alone
Spin It Again
Six Feet Under
Scratching the Surface
On the Loose
Wind Him Up
Don't Be Late