October 19, 2023 - De Bosuil, Weert (NL)

After 46 years on the road SAGA is still having fun and playing excellent music and it seems as if Crichton & Co are not planning to retire from the music business in the near future. The Vital Signs Tour also came to Weert, The Netherlands and of course I was there to check out the gig and it turned out to be a great evening of neo progressive rock music indeed.

The setlist contained thirteen tracks and eight of them were old SAGA classics from the eighties and I still wonder why these Canadian rockers do not play songs from great albums like House Of Cards, Marathon or Wildest Dreams; but I guess that the fans always want to hear the SAGA classics like On The Loose, Framed, Humble Stance and You're Not Alone, and so the band gives the audience what they want.....
This evening, SAGA , kicked off with No Stranger (Chapter 8), a track from their notorious album Worlds Apart (1981), a great track to start this nostalgic evening with and of course one of the SAGA chapters, a series of songs that the band revealed over a period of twenty-eight years in a mixed up order, creating a conceptual puzzle. These chapters tell a science-fiction story and on this evening two more chapters were played.
Follow ups Careful Where You Step from the album Silent Knight (1980) and Framed from the album Worlds Apart, again, are of course two classic SAGA tracks and the guitar solo of Ian Crichton in Framed was really impressive: maybe one of the best guitar solos of this evening indeed. Then the enthusiastic audience was treated to Days Like These from Saga's ninth studio album The Security Of Illusion (1993) and this rather unknown' Saga track was sung by Jim Gilmour. Next up was a classic singalong SAGA song being On The Loose, which was 'screamed' along to from the beginning till the end by the die-hard fans indeed.

Ian Crichton and
Dusty Chesterfield (background)
Michael Sadler Jim Gilmour

Then it was time for the wonderful instrumental Conversations, where the band really kicked some serious ass showing their more than excellent technical techniques; follow up here was again a rather 'obscure' track, namely On The Air from the album Network (2004), a tricky, but marvellous song, but the audience was waiting for Humble Stance, Scratching The Surface, You're Not Alone and other SAGA classics, and they got them.
But the highlight of this evening, for me at least, was the sensational Chapter 6, Tired World, the closing track from SAGA's debut album, released way back in 1978, as it featured lots of musical twists and turns, but most of all, this was Ian Crichton's song as his guitar playing here was almost out of this world; man, this guy can still play some mean guitar indeed! Chapter 2, Don't Be Late ended SAGA's regular set, but of course there had to be at least two encores.

Michael Sadler, Ian Crichton, Jim Gilmour, Mike Thorne and Dusty Chesterfield came back to treat the audience to Wind Him Up and the successful single The Flyer; but then it was really over, and we all could look back on a more than excellent nostalgic neo progressive rock evening indeed.

Will SAGA come back to the Bosuil, and will they release a new album? You never know....

Text & pictures Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

Setlist Saga:

No Stranger (Chapter 8)
Careful Where You Step
Days Like These
On The Loose
On The Air
Humble Stance
Tired World (Chapter 6)
The Pitchman
Scratching The Surface
Youíre Not Alone
Donít Be Late (Chapter 2)
Wind Him Up
The Flyer

Line up Saga:

(left to right)
Michael Sadler:
vocals, keyboards, bass guitar
Ian Crichton:
Jim Gilmour:
keyboards, vocals
Mike Thorne:
Dusty Chesterfield:
bass guitar, keyboards

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