Saga & It Bites

Friday, 16th April 2009
Musichall, Worpswede, Germany

Monday, 19th April 2009
P3, Purmerend, The Netherlands

Article By Menno von Brucken Fock

It Bites

In the quite damp and sold out venue in Worpswede (Germany, near Bremen) the stage was initially for the reformed It Bites, John Mitchell taking over the duties that used to be performed by Francis Dunnery. Bassist Lee Pomeroy was absent because of duties with Take That, so Nathan King, brother of Mark King of Level 42, filled in. Of course original members John Beck (keyboards) and Bob Dalton (drums) were present.

It Bites The band kicked off with one of the three tracks they played from the Once Around The World album, Kiss Of Judas, followed by Oh My God from their last offering The Tall Ships (album by the current line up). Although Mitchell is an outstanding guitarist, still his guitar sound differs from Dunnery’s and his voice is definitely different, less powerful and characteristic. Still the band played a good set and continued with the other tracks from Once Around The World, Yellow Christian, still a pretty emotional song and then Midnight. Promotion of the latest album again with the varied song The Wind That Shakes The Barley and the encore or rather last song, was the most catchy one from the 1986 debut album The Big Lad In The Windmill, received with much enthusiasm, Calling All The Heroes. In Purmerend Mitchell had some problems with his voice, and the harmonies were slightly less in tune but overall this support act did a great job indeed. And most people really loved to hear those wonderful tunes from the eighties again.

Setlist It Bites
Kiss Like Judas
Oh My God
Yellow Christian
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
Calling All The heroes

I’ve been to many Saga-shows in the past thirty years but now it was extra special because, as you probably all know, long time singer Michael Sadler retired. So Saga has a new vocalist, Toronto based Rob Moratti and a new album out. Whereas many songs from previous albums were written by Mike Sadler and Jim Chrichton, for the new album The Human Condition most of the songs were written by Ian Crichton and Jim Gilmour. It sounds remarkably fresh and although it will never be the Saga from the early days, it seems like a very positive, vibrant collaboration between Moratti and the remaining members of Saga. All who came out to see these shows must have been very curious what Saga would sound like live in 2009. As could be expected, Saga opened with part of the instrumental first track of the new album, displaying dazzling guitar- and keyboard melodies and some ultrafast simultaneous playing by Crichton and Gilmour. Then it was time for the introduction of the new singer. It was the first time for Rob Moratti to set foot on European soil and understandably he was a little nervous. Surprisingly the first song he sang in Germany was The Flyer. The crowd responded instantly and the party was on, never to stop that evening! Instead of focusing immediately on the new album it turned out to be a feast of recognition first: Wind Him Up, You Were Right, On The Air and Book Of Lies.
From the new album two great songs: Now Is Now and Step Inside, my personal favorite.

Moratti was a little shy and obviously he had to concentrate on his vocal and all the lyrics, still not automatically "his" but his smile stole the hearts of presumably anyone in the venue. From the first album there was Humble Stance and Gilmour starred in his best known creation, Scratching The Surface, for a change played by the whole band again. Two more songs from the new album followed, the up tempo Crown Of Thorns and the catchy You Look Good To Me, a perfect sing along tune. From Silent Knight the best song in my opinion would be Don’t Be Late and so this was the next treat. The audience could show the ability to sing along once more with the all time favorite You’re Not Alone. After a short break the band returned with It Never Ends and the final encore was Careful where You Step. The show in Worpswede the next day is said to be even better and also rumours from Uden (Netherlands) were quite positive. P3 in Purmerend is a fairly new and beautiful venue, with a good stage and lighting facilities. Unfortunately Moratti’s voice failed him almost completely so the set-list had to be shortened and in spite of the cheerful audience his performance suffered badly from his throat-problem, the band however played brilliantly. In time Rob will learn how to control his voice and he will start to find his own way of communicating with the audience. I have no doubts about Saga’s future, it looks really bright and with their new album there might be opportunities in the US too. I have a hunch that the next European tour will be even more convincing that the continuation of Saga is a very good choice indeed. I spotted Edwin Ammerlaan, who wrote and recently published a full biography on Saga, busy promoting his book. Since the old songs sound quite different because of the new vocalist, it might be an idea to arrange them in a different way too, giving them something special, a new life even maybe.
Saga is still going strong and with a very solid new album and their extensive back-catalogue, things can hardly go wrong.

Setlist Saga

The Human condition
The Flyer
Wind Him Up
You Were Right
On the Air
Book Of Lies
now Is Now
step Inside
Humble Stance
Scratching The Surface
Crown Of Thorns
You Look Good To Me
Don't Be Late
You're not Alone

It Never Ends
Careful Where You Step

On the Loose


The Human Condition
Careful Where You Step
Humble Stance
You Were Right
On The Air
Book Of Lies
Scratching The Surface
Step Inside
You Look Good To Me
Don't Be Late
You're Not Alone

It Never Ends
On The Loose

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