Way back in 1986, I got to see the Canadian band Saga for the very first time in Vorst Nationaal in Brussels (BE). A rather big and well know concert arena, although the venue was only half full that night. In those years I was more heavy (hard) rock and metal oriented but I knew the band Rush already pretty well. I got to know Saga a year or so after they released the live album `In Transit’. Immediately I liked their sound. Michael Sadler’s very clear and powerful voice is very recognizable and a big part of the Saga sound! Saga became pretty big, especially in Germany but also in other European countries. They played headline shows for thousands of fans and they even played at the famous Rock Am Ring Festival with way over 50.000 visitors.
I knew all their albums in those days and I liked them a lot, but somehow after the album `Behaviour’, released in 1985, I lost track of the band for no specific reason. I was busy with other stuff and music I guess. But still I kept listening to the Saga albums I had in my collection, especially on vinyl. Actually I did catch the band live in 2004 at the Arrow Classic Rock Festival (NL) where they performed a steady show.
It took until about four years ago I felt I wanted to find out more about their ‘recent’ work. I bought the album `Trust’ (2006) at the ITunes Store and was very positive surprised! Motivated again I got myself also `Full Circle' (1999), `10.000 Days’ (2007), `20/20’ (2012) and the most recent one `Sagacity’, the extended version (2014). These are still very fresh sounding albums! Although the extra live songs on `Sagacity’ were again those very well known same songs. I guess that could have been done otherwise. Somehow through their albums the Saga sound is always present: Fresh and for progrock, up-tempo and spontaneous! Something what is missing with some other progrock bands in my opinion.
In 2014, to my surprise, Saga played at Gebouw-T in Bergen op Zoom (NL). It is a nice concert club but not where I did expect Saga to perform. I enjoyed a very nice concert witnessing a still very enthusiastic band. But I also had a bit of a mixed feeling seeing the band playing maybe (too) many of their well know songs. I felt so lucky that I discovered their work from more recent albums, which are still very strong and I missed many of those songs in the live set!
This Sunday night, April 29th at the venue De Pul (NL), was sold-out! Which meant it was pretty crowded and as a photographer not many possibilities to move around ;-) From their opening song ,,Take a Chance’’ Saga was performing well and the crowd turned out to be very, very enthusiastic! For me drummer Mike Thorne stole a big part of the show. His drumming is powerful but also very, GROOVY! In my opinion this gives Saga a nice up-tempo sound that is not often to be found in bands that celebrate their 40 years!
It turned out to be a wonderful night with a band having fun as well like their very positive and enthusiastic audience! However I did miss one important thing: This year being their `40 Years of Saga Farewell Tour’ I expected some more show elements, like maybe a guest musician for one or two songs, but also more ‘visuals’ in the background. Saga came up with such wonderful album covers throughout their history, why not do something with that? Maybe it was because De Pul is probably one of the smaller venues they perform during this farewell tour, but with nowadays techniques and equipment available such thing can be achieved at different budget and sizes. Although Marillion performs in bigger clubs/halls nowadays, they use a lot of visuals, which makes their shows more enjoyable, even if they can rely pure on their musical qualities as well.
During this night I found out there will be two Saga shows in November 2017 in the Netherlands. I do hope they will provide us then with something special and different than during a regular show. I know it is all about their music and for that I think this night in De Pul was very good!! The audience sang along very loud with many songs, like ,,You’re Not Alone’’, ,,Humble Stance’’, ,,The Flyer’’, to name a few. Maybe me being a photographer as well, I see things more visual as it should be. ;-) Somehow Saga falls in-between genres: Too up-tempo and spontaneous for the die-hard progrockers, too soft for the real rockers and too loud maybe for the radio. But in my opinion Saga is certainly a band that deserves a much bigger audience!!
All photos by Ronald den Dekker of WACON-images