The Alamo City Music Hall
“The Heavy Metal Capitol of The World.” Yup, as I wrote about earlier, San Antonio’s music scene had grown quickly in the 1970’s and 80’s. KMAC/KISS had quite a bit to do with it. The DJ’s Joe “The Godfather” Anthony and Lou Roney brought bands from around the world to our little town. UFO and Saxon got mega air play and once the fans got a taste of their music, they came to play for us.
Speed forward to present day and all the fans were about to flock to the club and have a wonderful time on a warm Saturday. The original show was planned for outside, but with impending storms, they opted to move it indoors. Which meant that the ticket sales would be cut down considerably. Ha! I am no expert in crowd estimations, but there were many more than the 1500 fans crushed into the dark, hot club. Some of the people I spoke with said it had to be close to 3000. Add in the number of fans that could not get a ticket, and you can understand the rabid nature of the San Antonio faithful.
The tequila and beer flowed fast that night keeping the fans buzzed. When Jared James Nichols hit the stage, everyone caught their buzz in a completely different way as well. Like bands from the 70’s, the band was rocking and rolling getting the fans primed for the double headliners. With Saxon taking the top spot tonight, UFO was up next.
Returning to the metal mecca, UFO made the audience happy all night long. I watched the crowd from the bar area and was enchanted by the crowd’s vocal abilities. Singing along with “Love to Love” and “Rock Bottom” even the little kids where getting into the mood. Sitting on their parent’s shoulders, fists balled up and raised, bouncing along with the beat.
Making my way back to the pit for the Saxon set was difficult to say the least. The crowd was so packed up front that I had to pry my way through the humanity to get to the stage. Once lodged in the pit with my two photo mates, we got ready for the headlining version of the Saxon set.
Hitting the stage like a Battering Ram, Biff and the Boys were ready to bring the house down. The crowd was instantly transformed into a writhing mass of sweaty drunk but enthusiastic metalheads. “This Town Rocks” a tribute to many of the cities the band has powered through, including Alamo Town was greeted by banners waved by several fans.
Nibbs Carter’s bass playing is rivaled by only a few in the industry, entertaining the audience with his high-energy level on stage. Nigel Glockner’s drumming kept the fans bouncing with the beat.
“Queen of Hearts” the second of the songs from Battering Ram cut through the air. Doug Scarratt’s syncopated guitar licks in the intro helps create the eeriness of the song that smacks you in the face. “Careful where you tread, you might lose your head”, beware the Red Queen!
The 1980’s were good to the band. Seven of the biggest hits came from two albums released within months of each other. Wheels of Steel & Strong Arm of the Law brought classics like “747 (Strangers in the Night),” “Motorcycle Man,” “Heavy Metal Thunder,” and “Dallas 1pm” along with the title tracks. And when the band played them tonight, it brought back memories of cruising through town on hot summer nights with the windows down.
By now the fans were starting to pass out, pulling a few from the crush of people in the front rows to waiting medical help backstage.
The evening ended on a high note with “Denim and Leather” and “Princess of the Night”.
“Denim and Leather/Brought us all together/It was you that set the spirit free” as important a chorus has never been duplicated. The 80’s anthem to youth and the gritty style that is metal.
“It was you – that put us here today/It was you – that filled the concert halls”. A personal “Thank you” to all the generations of loyal fans.
After it was all done, the house lights came up. A few fans lingering around the stage for pics, sticks and set lists. The beer cans strewn all over, plastic cups being kicked around as everyone left. The floors wet and sticky, a sign of a great time!
As the bands play around the country, go see this spectacle of sonic wonders. You will not be disappointed…If you survive.