Hey, we do rock

Old pros: Saxon thinks this town knows how to rock.

To be fair, the members of the band said that while performing their song “This Town Rocks,” which I assume that they play in just about every town. But still. Saxon said we rock.

Regardless of how much we may or may not rock (we totally rock), Saxon somehow still rocked harder at the band’s Sunday show at Ace of Spades. The legendary purveyors of British steel, still burning bright like their New Wave of British Heavy Metal peers Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, Saxon landed down here as their sixth stop on their North American tour commemorating 35 years since their second album, the classic Wheels of Steel.

The mighty Saxon dipped deep into those years for the show, pulling out hits such as “747,” “Power and the Glory,” “Denim and Leather” and “Motorcycle Man,” all without letting on that most of these guys are, what, at least 60 now?

Age doesn’t stop the power of heavy metal, of course. These guys are old pros and they worked the crowd as such, with that blue-collar grace and charm that can only come from decades of living the touring life.

Between songs, vocalist Biff Byford alluded to the exhaustion of touring, noting that they’ve got shows in new cities every night and that it might be nice to take a break. But then again, for working musicians, the need to rock sometimes cannot wait, even on days off.

“Maybe we’ll just find a park and fucking play anyway,” Byford said in a tone that might have been in jest.

Most of the crowd leaned older, like they had been there for Saxon all along, with a healthy amount of young blood raised on NWOBHM showing promise for the next generation. So many Iron Maiden T-shirts; so many Kreator, Angel Witch and Overkill patches on faded denim vests. It was like being in high school with the heavy metal mop-heads all over again, and it was pure.

And the hundreds of metal maniacs loved every minute of Saxon’s show, game for all of the high-powered singalongs and nostalgic thrashing with classic tunes.

“It’s not too loud, is it? It’s not too hot, is it? Well, it’s not supposed to be comfortable,” Byford commented near the end of the show before ripping into yet another track.

—Anthony Siino

Under the weather, still on top: Despite feeling a little under the weather last Wednesday night, Keri Carr and her band put on a memorable show. The Torch Club was packed with folks eager for the local Americana songbird to take the stage, following a soulful set by New Orleans-based Lynn Drury. Drury was also joined live by Carr’s talented guitarist, Steve Randall, even though they’d just met only hours before.

Carr opened with “Goodbye” by Sacramento favorite Richard March, who left town in 2014 to join the Peace Corps. It was apparent from the warm love in the room that Carr has developed a dedicated fan base over the years—and has cultivated a strong working relationship with many of the city’s top musicians well. She has even recruited renowned local jazz bassist Gerry Pineda into her onstage lineup. The band kept things roots-rock-oriented and country laden throughout the night.

A bit into the set, the bronchitis showed itself in Carr’s faltering voice, however. Luckily, Torch Club owner Marina Texeria came to the rescue with a special tonic—ahem, presumably some booze—which helped as the singer went into a moving and sentimental version of “It’s Not You It’s Me,” by the Little Willies (Norah Jones’ old side project). Carr laced the night with other tasty covers, including Gram Parson’s “Return of the Grievous Angel,” the Everly Brothers’ “Love Hurts,” as well as Carr’s signature versions of Little Feat’s “Willin’” and the Paul Simon classic “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”

Throughout, Carr delivered a lively performance, candidly connecting with the crowd on a personal level by telling lovelorn tales to her fans between songs and reminiscing of good friends gone by. Her sound continues to be vibrant and youthful—Sacramento’s native daughter isn’t going anywhere.

—Derek Kaplan