Band founder, and leader, Mick Box began the show with the intense title track from their critically acclaimed Wake the Sleeper album. Mick hit the wah-wah pedal like a madman driving a four-wheel drive up the Rockies. Next up was the classic Heep tune “Return to Fantasy.” Shaw is the lead singer for the band, not simply a replacement for the late David Byron. He deserves much more credit than he receives for both his vocal contributions and his ability to work a crowd. Imagining Uriah Heep without Shaw seems impossible. This says heaps [pun intended] about his abilities and personality.
Bass player Trevor Bolder plays the low-end four string like a lead guitarist. His contributions are essential to the bands’ sound. Keyboard player Phil Lanzon, on the other hand, is front and center to the Heep sound. He handles the pressure of replacing founding member, and rock icon, Ken Hensley with ease. Speaking of tough people to replace, drummer Russell Gilbrook has the daunting task of filling the drum seat of one of Heep’s most beloved members, Lee Kerslake. Russell goes about his business as if he has been playing with the band for decades. He brings a fresh energy to the band that is thrust onto the audience whether they want it or not.
The epic “Love in Silence” represented Sea of Light, an album highly praised by fans. After the song only Lanzon and Shaw remained on stage. They duo performed a touching rendition of the classic “Rain” from The Magician’s Birthday. The crowd was in awe of this unexpected performance. Between the last note of the song, and the applause, one could clearly hear a fan up front simply say “thank you,” a fitting response to a poignant song. “The Wizard” and “Sunrise” followed and were the pinnacle of the show. Both songs were performed with mastery and left all in attendance with jaws agape.
Heep not only kept the momentum going, they shifted the entire evening into overdrive with “Gypsy,” “July Morning” and “Easy Livin’” all being performed to end the show. Between “Gypsy” and “July Morning” was a song from Wake the Sleeper written by bassist Trevor Bolder titled “Angels Walk With You.” This may be the best Uriah Heep track written in the last twenty years. The band left the stage after “Easy Livin’” but returned with Box adorning his acoustic guitar. The crowd joined in for the chorus of “Lady In Black.” Shaw even warned the crowd when the high note was coming so they could be sure to hit it.
At the end of the day, Uriah Heep not only performed well, they enjoyed each other and the audience. The best thing one can say about Uriah Heep is that they are a true band. Their fans are simply a part of their extended family. After the show they met with all who wanted to stand in line and signed autographs and posed for pictures for two hours, even though they had not yet eaten dinner.
One can only hope it does not take them nine more years to do the next USA tour. This writer, for one, simply can’t wait that long. Long live Heep!
2 Return to Fantasy
3 Only Human
4 Book of Lies
5 Bird of Prey
6 Corridors of Madness
8 Love in Silence
12 Free & Easy
14 Angels Walk With You
15 July Morning
16 Easy Livin'
17 Lady in Black