SAGA 20/20 CD Release Party at Sound Academy – Concert Review

July 21 - Well, it was the return of Saga, the classic prog rock band, to their hometown on Friday July 20 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The band played host to their CD Release Party at the Sound Academy for their latest record, 20/20. This, the band’s 20th studio release, is probably one of their most anticipated by their fans as well as being their first release since the return of charismatic frontman, Michael Sadler (who took a few years off from the band). If you haven’t already read our review of Saga’s 20/20, you can check it out here. The last time we saw Saga was on September 1 2011, and you can read that review here.

After an inspiring crowd warming session by the Dave Barrett Trio, Saga exploded onto the stage with the catchy “Anywhere You Wanna Go” from the new album. Then the band proceeded to follow through on the title of their opening song, with Sadler soliciting the crowd regularly throughout the evening for requests from the band’s 35 year collection of progressive rock masterpieces.

It truly was a party-like setting with Sadler mingling with the crowd from the stage, signing autographs between requests and handing over the duties of vocals to the audience on a number of occasions including on “You’re Not Alone”, early on in the show, and in the finale “Wind Him Up”. The band was in classic form with Jim Gilmour and Jim Crichton providing the structural backbone of keyboards and bass for Ian Crichton to wrap his complex guitar textures and riffs around…providing the unmistakable Saga sound fans have come to know and love. Sadler excited the fans with his usual confident swagger, opera-like theatrics and his clean and crisp vocals performance while newbie, Mike Thorne, did well to keep up on drums to drive the message home. Note; we had the world’s first interview with Thorne as Saga’s new drummer here.

It was a packed house at the Sound Academy but the band did well to keep the atmosphere intimate. Gilmour nailed the intimacy vibe with his solo performance of “Scratching the Surface”, capturing his audience and virtually turning the Sound Academy into a piano lounge for the time being. Another memorable performance included Sadler with Gilmour on keyboards, and the two alternated lines like Shakespearean actors on their performance of “The Cross”, with Ian Crichton provided the violin sounding guitar as the backdrop. Other notable performances from the evening included “The Perfectionist”, “Don’t Be Late” and “On the Loose”.

Verdict: 9 out of 10. As expected an excellent show. Saga has maintained its mastery of live performances with the passage of time and their continued releases of new material reaffirms their passion for their music, which is reflected in their live shows. Do not miss your chance to see this band live during their current tour.

Anywhere You Wanna Go
Mouse In A Maze
Book Of Lies
Careful Where You Step
You’re Not Alone
The Perfectionist
The Cross
Drum Solo
Scratching The Surface
Tired World
Humble Stance
Six Feet Under
On The Loose
Don’t Be Late
Wind Him Up

Steve Mallinson

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