Saga @ B.B. King Blues Club (7/22/2006)

Logo - Saga

Artist: Saga
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 7/22/2006
Label: InsideOut Music

It has been 22 years since the band Saga last played in the United States and because of this fact there are many of you are reading and saying “Hmmmm, Saga, it is just not ringing a bell”. For those people, let me bring you up to speed. In the heyday of the Eighties, the band had a resounding success with the songs “On The Loose” and “Wind Him Up”, but after those had peaked, they simply fell off peoples radar as they moved on to whatever other band was fashionable at the time. The “Hair Metal” and “Thrash” era was beginning for the Rockers and I admit not being up on my Progressive area of the time, so unless you were a hard core fan you would not have known these guys were still rocking. It was interesting to find that a group as Pop-sensible as they were mixed a number of Progressive elements to their songs. This practice made them a hit among certain circles but despite this, the touring just never seemed to happen for these parts as often as the fan base would like. During these years, the band enjoyed a healthy and productive career in their native Canada. Tonight they would get the chance to remind the people of New York exactly what they were about and be in support of their latest album “Trust”. The stage would be set once again at the well-known B.B. King Blues Club and under many conditions – this is the perfect setting for this kind of band. Progressive shows have been making a solid mark at the place but tonight would be a different story as attendees and the band would find themselves in a very sparse room. Without sounding too disparaging on the bands draw, I think a number of reasons were the cause of this happening tonight. The past week in New York had been a resounding heat wave and in parts of Queens, there was no power for several days with no apparent end in sight. Given the freedom of the weekend, it seemed like many people fled to cooler and powered spots for relief. I also feel that being absent from the public eye in this region for such a long time was also a key contributor but still I expected the Progressive folks to rally the night of the show. This would sadly not be the case and when the fact of no tables being setup at this show it made the room look all the more roomy. They had been removed in anticipation for the show by DMX (Rap) who was performing later that evening. It seems that the Prog shows are more sit down events than the Metal ones and I think had they left them up the place would have seemed a little fuller.

Despite the lack of a crowd, there was still an energetic presence in the fans who did attend and most of them flocked to the front stage area to get both a better view. There would be a lot of jumping around by the folks down front and many were taking photo after photo as the band played. Clearly, it was apparent that the group had not been totally forgotten and that are some people’s favorite band no matter what anyone might think. The group ripped through several classics and mixed in new material from their InsideOut Music release “Trust”, and I was impressed with how tight they performed and with how heavy they were in a live setting. Michael Sadler really can belt them out and his voice did not seem to have lost any of its luster from the past as he reached passionate high notes throughout the performance. This would be an almost totally original member band finding Sadler along with Jim Crichton (bass), Ian Crichton (guitar), & Jim Gilmour (keyboards, clarinet, harmonica). On drums would be the new member of the group, Brian Doerner (who played with Canada’s Helix for many years). Having never seen the band before but knowing some of Doerner’s playing made me wonder if they were sounding heavier because of the presence of a Hard Rock drummer in the lineup. Ian Crichton was ripping on the guitar as far as soloing and impressive displays during the songs while his Brother held is down on bass. The keyboard rig used by Jim Gilmour was impressive and was even utilized by Sadler for parts of the show. I have to admit that I am one of those who only knew the bands hits, and only recently got a copy of “Trust” to do the review on but I am truly glad that I went. It is the kind of show that I feel many people if they paid attention to what was going on that day might have enjoyed as well. Those folks missed out on this one and unless the band gets together with a couple of other Progressive acts, I cannot imagine them being able to fund a tour schedule if this show was any sign of the response.

There was a point that definitely deserves mention and that would be the large group of attendees who made their way all the way from Puerto Rico. They had signs proclaiming it and at one point in the night, singer Michael held one of these signs up and thanked them. Better still, the band did not seem to mind the turnout as those that were there allowed the band to feed off their energy and kick many levels of ass for the 90 minutes that we got from them. Hope to see you guys again soon, so any Festival organizers out there please look into this solid and classic Prog-Rock act, you will be getting your money’s worth. For those that want to investigate more into Saga, the band has 25 albums in total with studio recordings as well as some live and best of compilations.

Set List:
1. Trust
2. As Far As I’ll Go
3. Wind Him Up
4. On the Air
5. Keep It Reel
6. Drum Solo
7. Flyer
8. Runaway
9. I’m OK
10. Scratching
11. Careful
12. Humble Stance
13. You’re Note Alone
14. On The Loose
15. Don’t Be Late – encore

Official Web site: http://www.sagaontour.com

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