REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
The legendary British band Uriah Heep returned to Finland for the third time this year. The band released their 25th album, LIVING THE DREAM, in the summer. It seems that there’s still plenty of demand for the band because this concert in House of Culture was virtually sold out for a long time. This time, the tour also included another legendary UK band, The Zombies. Unfortunately, I missed the band’s performance because I interviewed with the headliner at the same time. Sometimes things must be put in order, and this time Heep won.
Heep played for the third time in Finland this year, but the band has played more than 80 gigs in our country over the years. If I did count correctly, this gig was the number 84. I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s more shows than any foreign band has played in Finland? However indeed, right from the start of the show opener “Grazed by Heaven,” it was evident that the band is still on top form, and the material of LIVING THE DREAM is solid and their strongest in ages. This song has all the classic Heep song elements, and it’s a crushing opener. And then things only get better when the band next headed into classic “Return to Fantasy.” A full crowd went like a trance because the band just killed on stage. The title track of LIVING THE DREAM was the third song, followed by the first actual surprise of the night. Unlike as expected, the band’s 80’s era wasn’t completely ignored this time. Heep surprised everyone and played “Too Scared to Run,” from their criminally underrated ABOMINOG album. The song was definitely one of the highlights, and to my surprise, it seemed that most of the crowd did recognize the song.
Like said before, I think that LIVING THE DREAM is Uriah Heep’s strongest release in ages. It just crackles with energy, and the choice of new producer Jay Ruston (who has earlier worked with such names as The Donnas, Stone Sour, Anthrax, and even Steel Panther) seems to have succeeded to update the band sound to this century. I was more than happy that the setlist now included not one or two but six songs from the new album. That’s something that many bands don’t dare do nowadays if they never did. Already mentioned, “Crazed in Heaven” sounded fantastic, but also the title track, “Take Away My Soul,” and very “Purpleish” sounding “Knocking at my Door” rocked hard, and those songs didn’t lose an inch compared to the classics.
Besides “Too Scared to Run,” another pleasant addition on the set was “Rainbow Demon,” which I haven’t heard live in years. Good stuff. The classic “July Morning” was the last song of the set before the band left the stage for a moment. Soon Mick came back with his acoustic guitar, and then there was a bit of a sing-a-long with crowd favorite “Lady in Black.” After “Stealin’,” the band left us all with their biggest hit, “ Easy Livin.”
After more than 100 minutes, the concert was over, and it was time to sum it up. The band’s performance was overall solid and energetic, with no sight of tiredness. Bernie Shaw fronted the show with style, Mick Box still had his fabulous smile on his face, and his guitar playing and solos sounded just brilliant. Phil Lanzon was the true “the wizard” behind his keyboards, and the rhythm section of Russel Gilbrook and Davey Rimmer played their asses off through the whole set.
Besides those two “surprising songs” and six new songs, the band performed the standard classics. So, basically, the set was half old, half new. I do understand that the band can’t finish the show without playing those particular songs, but there are songs included, which could be changed any day. The band has a crazy amount of material, and 25 albums, in their belt. Probably it’s never going to happen, but I really hope they would be brave enough and mix the set even more. Another statement that would defend this is that although Shaw is a good vocalist, he sometimes needs to struggle a bit too much. Everyone can hear it, especially during the early Byron era songs, like “Gypsy.”
Although Uriah Heep has gone through numerous lineup changes, Mick Box being the only remaining original member, there’s no end in sight. After watching the big crowd singing along through most of the set, it was easy to understand that the band had done many things right. What I mean, there were guys, and “girls, that looked 70 years old to kids that kind of looked a little young to be in the venue. After rocking stages for almost 50 years, these guys still got it, no matter who’s in the current band. Uriah Heep has succeeded in reaching at least four generations, and I’m pretty sure that there’s more to come. They may be a bit old if you ever get a chance to see them go, but this isn’t an older people show only. These guys still bring it and are still very Heavy Metal!
Grazed by Heaven
Return to Fantasy
Living the Dream
Too Scared to Run
Take Away My Soul
Knocking at My Door
Rocks in the Road
Look at Yourself
Lady in Black
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