Heavy metal band Saracen were in their pomp at Head of Steam gig

Pomp rockers Saracen at the Head of Steam in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.
Pomp rockers Saracen at the Head of Steam in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

It may have taken a while but Derbyshire pomp rockers Saracen finally made their first headlining appearance in Newcastle almost four decades after the release of their cult classic, Heroes Saints and Fools album.

The small but perfectly formed Head Of Steam was suitably rammed by a loyal and enthusiastic crowd who burst into animated life as We Have Arrived kicked off the show - a rather appropriate opening statement.

Saracen singer Steve Bettney at the Head of Steam in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Saracen singer Steve Bettney at the Head of Steam in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

It wasn't long before their fabled classic debut album was mined for goodies, with the punchy Rock Of Ages showing the tighter, harder edge of the band, whereas Horseman Of The Apocalypse was Saracen at their most majestic as Paul Bradder added layer upon layer of keyboards to dramatic effect.

Vocalist Steve Bettney, the only surviving member from those early days, has retained the rich, powerful voice that made Saracen stand out from the pack back then, and impressed on the likes of Red Sky and Whither The Wind Blows.

The keyboard-driven Follow The Piper upped the tempo and sensing the crowd was deserving of something special, Saracen pulled out the gorgeous Face In The Crowd from their Change Of Heart album for a first-ever live outing.

Of course, it was the title track to their illustrious debut that everyone was waiting for, and 40 years on it still sounded every inch the pomp rock classic it is.

Saracen performing at the Head of Steam in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Saracen performing at the Head of Steam in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

It was dramatic, overblown and totally magnificent with one fan seemingly so overwhelmed that they fell face down on the stage, or maybe that was just the beer.

The up-tempo Ready To Fly brought the show to an end, with Bettney showing off his still-impressive range, and much to everyone`s amusement, when he handed his microphone into the crowd to join him, a fan hit a sweet, perfectly pitched note a la Mark Wahlberg in the Rockstar movie, drawing a round of applause from Bettney and backslaps from other fans.

It was a fun ending to a great evening.