Uriah Heep concert review, Shepherds Bush Empire London – 14 Dec 2018

Uriah Heep in concert with support from GUN and the Von Hertzen Brothers.

Finally, almost 50 years after their inception I get to see Uriah Heep in the flesh.  Not only that but the support in the form of Gun and the Von Hertzen Brothers promises to be excellent as well, and all for £33 standing – surely the accountant got this wrong?

I kind of lost track of Heep in the late 70s and then my interest spiked again around 2008 with the wonderful ‘Wake the Sleeper’ LP.  Since then I’ve gone back and revisited a fair amount of their back catalogue and the latest LP ‘Living the Dream’, signed by the band no less, is proudly hung on my wall – the Pledge Music web site is great for this type of personalised memorabilia – check it out.

Of course, the years have taken their toll and now only the grand wizard remains from the original line up.  The current line up consists of some great musos and a typically in your face R’n’R frontman:

  • Mick Box – guitars (since 1969)
  • Phil Lanzon – keyboards (since 1986)
  • Bernie Shaw – vocals (since 1986)
  • Russell Gilbrook – drums (since 2007)
  • Davey Rimmer – bass (since 2013)

The band come on to a sparse stage at 21:19 with a storming ‘Grazed by Heaven’ and play until 22:50.  Resplendent all in black designer gear, love the custom built trousers guys they look every bit a R’n’R band.  At the time of writing Mick is 71, Phil 68, and Bernie 62 are accompanied by the youngsters Russell 54 and Davey a.k.a ‘Diablo’ 50 😊.

Based on what I witnessed tonight prog hard rock lords Uriah Heep are still a musical force to be reckoned with.  Heep were on top form and the home London crowd lapped up every second of a thoroughly enjoyable gig.  If the band’s having fun the ‘buzz’ seeps into the audience and hey everyone’s happy!

As I mentioned earlier, there were no gimmicks, no fancy backdrops or lighting basically nothing to detract from the sheer brilliance of the performance of a bunch of seasoned pro’s at the top of their game.  The sound was crisp and clear and not overly too loud – a good thing given a sizeable chunk of the audience were past the 50 mark!  Talking of the audience I was surprised to see so many ladies in attendance either on their own or with other girlfriends.  I was kind of expecting lots of grey haired/bald, overweight blokes wearing 30-year-old band t-shirts, drinking real ale etc. – tee hee.

In the end Uriah Heep let the songs do the talking, and what brilliant songs.  Of course, this tour is in support of their new LP so as you’d expect they cherry picked the best numbers and really let fly with the first half of the song predominantly from the Living the Dream’ LP.

The rest of the evening was given over to mainly 70’s classics such as their badge of honour ‘Gypsy’ and the always brilliant ‘Easy Livin’’.  A good balance between the very old and very new, however they missed out a good 60% of their back catalogue covering 36 years.

My personal highlights were Take Away My Soul, Rainbow Demon and the haunting July Morning‘.

Setlist (click on link to watch the video on my YouTube site in ultra 4k)

  1. Grazed by Heaven – (Living the Dream, 2018)Uriah Heep - Living the Dream UK dates 2018
  2. Too Scared to Run – (Abominog, 1982)
  3. Living the Dream – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  4. Take Away My Soul – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  5. Rainbow Demon – (Demons and Wizards, 1972)
  6. Waters Flowin’ – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  7. Rocks in the Road – (Living the Dream, 2018)
  8. Gypsy – (..Very ‘eavy …Very ‘umble, 1970)
  9. Look at Yourself – (Look at Yourself, 1971)
  10. July Morning – (Look at Yourself, 1971)
  11. Lady in Black – (Salisbury, 1971)

Encore:

  1. Sunrise – (The Magician’s Birthday, 1972)
  2. Easy Livin’ – (Demons and Wizards, 1972)

So overall the performance was flawless, it’s difficult to point to any shortcomings in terms of playing ability.  But you’d expect that from a band that have played thousands of gigs and work off each other.

Bernie was energetic from start to finish in that kind of ‘awesome’ American way – yes I know he’s Canadian before anyone pipes up!  Mick and Bernie were constantly smiling, Russel was beating the hell out of the skins like a demented Angry Anderson on speed whilst   Davey and Phil just got on with the job in hand.  Can I just mention Davey’s wonderful bass guitar at this point, the first time I have seen one with frets that light up in the dark – technology isn’t it great?  You could tell that they were all having a right royal London knees up which was wonderful to behold.  Bernie is a wonderful engaging frontman, has a great voice but knows when to go off stage to take a break as the rest of the band do their thing during the solos.

Now Mick Box might be 71 but he definitely displayed that he is both the wizard (the hair helps) and the magician (get the puns readers?).  He totally nailed the guitar solos all night especially during ‘Look at Your Self’ and ‘July Morning’ where he regularly waved his hand around the length of the guitar magically producing exquisite sounds with the other.  We were all in awe of his techo wizardy and I was still in a trance on the tube home.  Tonight, ladies and Gentlemen Uriah Heep were a sheer joy to behold.  Plus as Mick said “back home, cup of tea and a pint, ‘appy days!”.

Lee Kerslake the original drummer was the surprise guest for ‘Lady in Black’.  You could instantly tell the camaraderie between him and Mick, they obviously are great pals.  Alas, Lee has many health issues so it was good to get a glimpse of him happy smiling and messing about on tambourine, singing and helping out banging the skins.

Shepherds Bush Empire
Uriah Heep – Shepherds Bush Empire [14 Dec 2018]
Shepherds Bush Empire
Uriah Heep – Shepherds Bush Empire [14 Dec 2018]
Unsurprisingly they encored with ‘Sunrise‘ and ‘Easy Livin‘‘.  The tannoy finally burst into life playing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ and the band duly handed their instruments to the roadies, and came stage front to applaud the audience and then threw guitar picks (yeah.. I got one from Davey as a memento) and drumsticks to an excitable audience.  A few self-congratulatory hugs and a big final bow and they were gone to rapturous applause.

Reviewed by Marko [15 December 2018]

One thought on “Uriah Heep concert review, Shepherds Bush Empire London – 14 Dec 2018

  1. Simon Cavadino

    It was a privilege to witness Mick Box play the guitar for 90 minutes. Note perfect and rocked as hard as the best of the younger crop. Decades of practice built on an incredible talent. Heep are unmissable for as long as they can carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

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