Uriah Heep: Y Plas, Cardiff
So myself and Mr Perry rocked up to the university building to watch one of British rocks oldest bands, having always been ridiculed as Deep Purple copyists, Uriah Heep have gone through many phases but after their particularly dodgy middle period they have been experiencing somewhat of a 'purple' (no pun intended) patch since 2008's Wake The Sleeper. Uriah Heep are a band I have never seen live but I have always heard that they give 100% for every show so I was eager to see if the stories were true:
As we waited for The Heep we were welcomed by three white suited gents who were the support act Blurred Vision, they took their places guitar, bass, drums respectively and started off the night. Blurred Vision are a Canadian band that have only recently released their debut album which was produced by Terry Brown (Rush, Tiles etc) so that gives you a hint to what this band sound like; part Von Hertzen Bros, part Orphaned Land; due to their Persian heritage and songs dedicated to it and part Pink Floyd fusing prog, pop and psychedelia together with virtuoso musicianship from the two guitar slinging brothers Sepp and Sohl Osley and drummer Ben Riley. With tracks like the driving No More War, the Floydian Rollin On and their set piece Organised Insanity the band have a great set of songs that were played in their stripped back three piece style (different to the album versions, which I will be reviewing soon). The set finished with their cover/re-interpretation of Floyd's Another Brick Part 2 (Hey Ayatollah) which is a protest song about their native Iran and was given to them to perform by their patron Roger Waters. A great way to open the night from a band that I will definitely keeping an eye on. 8/10
So it was time for The Heep, the 45 year veterans burst onto the stage to Speed Of Sound from their latest record The Outsider, which was the first of 5 songs from that album nearly all of them being big ballsy rockers The Law, Can't Take That Away and The Outsider, as well as ballad single One Minute. Nearly all the songs off this album have a western theme to them accentuated by front man Bernie Shaw's holster for his mic. Shaw is a great front man and has a great and at times ear piercingly high voice, drummer Russell Gilbrook works like a fucking machine, he was the sweatiest man in the room by far, new bassist Davey Rimmer works the stage as the youngest member of the band while the two oldest; members stood their ground and matched any energy with professionalism. Keyboardist Phil Lanzon (who had a fantastic and dazzling white shirt to match his feathered and lethal hair) worked his keys like Lord and guitarist and founder Mick Box cut a solitary but spellbinding figure, busting out riff after riff. As well as having a great voice Shaw is an affable front man encouraging participation with humour and joviality.
As I said much of the set list comprised of half of their new album but as this was their 45th anniversary they hand picked some songs they hadn't played in a long time as well as old favourites and classics; two came from The Magician's Birthday with Sunrise and the prog rock epic title track (which is still bonkers) both getting and airing, before they showed they still have that prog rock streak with the What Kind Of God? coming from Wake The Sleeper. However it was tracks like Stealin', July Morning and main set ender Lady In Black that won the crowd over the most although the new stuff slotted in perfectly showing how their prowess as a band steeped in history but able to sit in the present quite comfortably. As the encore of Gypsy and Easy Livin' came in rapid succession it was quite obvious why people rate Uriah Heep so highly as a live act. Despite the small crowd everyone was involved during the set which was non stop fun bolstered by some truly legendary tunes. 9/10