GLAM-rockers Slade are as much a part of the festive season as silly jumpers, falling pine needles and family arguments. Yuletide isn’t really here until you’ve heard Noddy Holder’s unmistakable yell: “It’s Christmas!”

So expect the Christmas spirit to be cranked up to 11 when they roll into Oxford for their now traditional seasonal show.

Still a hard working band, with 23 top 20 singles and six chart-toppers under their shiny belts, Slade come into their own at this time of year. And this tour is particularly special – marking 45 years since the release of their anthem Merry Xmas Everybody.

The tune is among the best-selling seasonal hits ever and still their most-requested song.

“People do associate us with Christmas and they expect to hear the song,” says original guitarist Dave Hill.

“It’s not our most important song but is one that everyone remembers us for. It’s become an anthem and as much a part of Christmas as mince pies and Christmas trees.”

The Black Country glam-rockers perform that and their other memorable – if badly spelt – hits Cum On Feel The Noize, Coz I Luv you, Take Me Bak ‘Ome, Mama Weer All Crazee Now and Gudbuy T’Jane tonight when they return to the O2 Academy Oxford, in Cowley Road.

However punters expecting to hear Noddy yelling about hanging up your stocking on the wall will be disappointed; the former frontman left the band back in 1992. The line-up now consists of Dave, original drummer Don Powell, former Hazzard and The Sweet singer Mal McNulty and ex-Mud guitarist John Berry. The latter will be in particularly good company as his old band are supporting.

“Nod and me are mates but we have gone our own ways,” says Dave, when asked about Holder’s absence from the line-up.

“Mal sings it now. No one else can sing like Nod, but people know he’s not in the band – unless they’ve been in the middle of nowhere and don’t know what’s going on.

“Nod is older now and wouldn’t sing like that any more anyway.”

Defining the glam rock era in the early 1970s, Slade sold more singles in Britain than any other act; outperforming even Roxy Music, T Rex and David Bowie.

They have released 30 albums, three of which topped the charts and were the first act to have three singles enter the charts at number one.

Bands to have cited them as an influence include The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. Even Oasis doffed their caps to Dave, Noddy et al.

“The best form of entertainment is when you can get people on the dance floor and move them,” says Dave, who made a name for himself for his outlandish dress sense: huge collars, sequins, tight silver jumpsuits and that extraordinary hair – an overgrown 70s mullet teamed with a bowl cut, so keenly parodied by Bob Mortimer in the bitingly funny Slade in Residence sketches on The Smell of Reeves & Mortimer.

“My purpose is not just to make records but to perform and entertain – and our audiences have continued to grow,” he says.

Even though they failed to recapture the dizzy heights of their 70s fame, and have suffered rocky periods and numerous line-up changes, Slade survive – and are once again pulling in the crowds.

“It’s not about us as individuals,” says Dave – once dubbed ‘Zany Dave’ for his outlandish attire.

“Our longevity is down to the quality of the music and the fact I kept the flag flying 20 years ago when Nod left.

“Some of the songs are nearly 50 now, but people want to feel 15 again and think of a better time. We are all struggling, but if I can bring a bit of happiness to people through my job, that’s got to be worth something.”

And is he still ‘Zany Dave’ on stage? “Well, I don’t wear platform soles any more but I do wear colourful jackets,” he says. “I believe showmanship is important – and that means showing off. And it’s amazing that I am still getting up in the morning and doing this.”

It’s all the more remarkable, given his own battle with depression and his recovery from a stroke suffered on stage in Germany eight years ago.

“I’ve been through dark periods but survived,” he says. “Now I try to live in the moment and don’t worry about what tomorrow brings. But hopefully we’ll still be here.

“Like we sing: ‘Look to the future now... It’s only just begun!”

  • Slade play the O2 Academy Oxford tonight. Tickets from