20′th of September
Club Tavastia, HELSINKI
REVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Uriah Heep have always been a regular visitor to Finland and this current tour was no exception. The band released its 23’rd studio album titled INTO THE WILD last summer and since then the band has been actively supporting the album around the globe. It seems that there’s still plenty of demand for these U.K. veterans in Finland when both of the band’s concerts, Helsinki and Tampere, were practically sold out in a short amount of time. It was time to catch up with the legendary Uriah Heep today.
The Uriah Heep show was about to start at 09:30 PM but although there was no support band at all the venue was really tightly packed well in advance. It was interesting to notice that the average age in the audience was over 40 years. That tells you something about the loyalty that Heep enjoys by their longtime followers, doesn’t it? The show opened up with the INTO THE WILD album track “I’m Ready” followed by pair of classics “Return to Fantasy” and “Stealin’” which both got a great and noisy response from the sold out crowd. Rarely played DEMONS AND WIZARDS album gem “Rainbow Demon” was played next before band headed into string of new album tracks and drum solo by Russell Gilbrook.
Vocalist Bernie Shaw has been in the band since 1985 but for old school Heep fans he’s still “the new guy”. Shaw is a decent vocalist and good fit for current Heep but his stage presence has always been a bit poor. In addition to that, it did now sound that Bernie had some problems with his voice during the show. At times he was barely heard during the verses, especially on Byron era material, but the rest of the band did help him out especially on choruses. This wasn’t Shaw’s best day but other than that, the whole band did sound superb. Guitarist Mick Box is not just a founding member and the only remaining piece of the original Uriah Heep line up but he’s also an excellent player with great sense of style. It was also really enjoyable to follow longtime bassist Trevor Bolder in action. The man is simply amazing with his instrument and his highly improvisations style of play does justice for Heep material. The keyboardist Phil Lanzon did a decent job behind his instrument but still, in musically, the biggest surprise was sitting behind the kit. Russell Gilbrook might be the latest addition in the current line-up but he’s definitely a right man in the job. He’s a true “powerhouse” drummer and many classics got a brand new boost in his treatment. All honor to Lee Kerslake but because of Russell old gems like “Look at Yourself” and especially “Free ’n’ Easy” now sounded better than ever.
There were no surprises in the set list. Altogether four songs were played from the excellent INTO THE WILD album, the rest of the set was a typical “Best of” including all the bands biggest hits from the 70’s. That’s for sure the thing what most of the crowd came for to hear but still, the band has been playing for these same songs like forever although there’s plenty of material to choose from. Yes, there are loads of obscure songs in their 70’s albums which could be added in the set but there’s also a lot of great stuff released in between the 70’s and INTO THE WILD. Actually, the “second-latest” song on the set was “Free ‘n’ Easy” which originally came out in INNOCENT VICTIM in 1977 so there’s a period of 34 years which are now completely ignored.
The band has a long 40+ year career. Although they’re still putting out new albums it’s a fact they’re more or less a nostalgia act nowadays, but there’s nothing wrong with that because this really was an enjoyable performance and the majority of the crowd people got what they wanted. Welcome back any day!
2.Return to Fantasy
7.Nail on the Head
9.Into the Wild
11.Look At Yourself
13.Lady In Black
14.Free ‘n’ Easy
15.Bird of Prey