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Uriah Heep

Artist: Uriah Heep

Venue: London: Wembley Arena

Date: 21st March 2024


"Tonight, Uriah Heep showed everyone why they are legends, and the twelve thousand fans inside Wembley Arena gave them the respect they thoroughly deserve."

 
© Myke Gray
© Myke Gray

Uriah Heep are a band that have adapted in order to survive. At the start of their illustrious career they were the pioneers and forefathers of what we now call Classic Rock. Over a period of fifty-five years they’ve released 25 studio albums, and notched up record sales of over 40 million units. They’ve successfully navigated their way through the music industry’s version of snakes and ladders, and come out as winners. Throughout that time they’ve somehow managed to balance staying true to their roots, while continuing to musically evolve. Fads have come and gone but they’ve outlasted the thousands of hopefuls that threw their hat into the ring. A plethora of musicians may have passed through the ranks, but founder member Mick Box has remained a constant throughout their entire history. A man who has dedicated his life to doing what he loves, and made himself a legend in the process. So tonight, on stage at the Wembley Arena, we are undoubtedly watching greatness.


Even though the doors opened relatively early at 6.30pm, the venue was nearly full when Uriah Heep took to the stage 30 minutes later. They opened with a blockbusting version of ‘Save Me Tonight’, taken from their latest album ‘Colour And Chaos’. There was to be no gentle introduction to the proceedings, and with all guns blazing they hit the ground running. Right from the off the rhythm section of Russell Gilbrook on drums and Dave Rimmer on bass showed they were a force to be reckoned with. On stage right, Mick Box was grinding out the riffs on a black Carparelli Les Paul. To still be able to rock out with twelve thousand Metalheads at 76 years of age is a mind-boggling achievement. With absolute clarity Bernie Shaw’s vocals cut through the band’s expansive wall of sound. In a blistering display of virtuosity, the first solo of the night went to keyboardist Phil Lanzon, instantly followed by some remarkably adroit soloing from Box. Big smiles were beaming from all across the stage, and it was no secret that they were loving every second of being there.


‘Grazed By Heaven’ with its monstrous opening riff kept the intensity high. There are two very key components to what gives Uriah Heep their unique sound. One, the intoxicating vocal harmonies, and two, the integration of the Hammond organ within their musical arrangements. Ken Hensley, the original keyboardist, along with Jon Lord from Deep Purple, probably did more than any of their peers to make the sound of a Hammond organ, an omnipresent force throughout seventies Rock music. Amazingly, the next two songs were written over fifty years apart, but tonight they sounded like they came from the same album. ‘Rainbow Demon’ from the 1972 album ‘Demons And Wizards’ sat perfectly alongside ‘Hurricane’ taken from their 2023 album ‘Colour And Chaos’. Such has been the incredible consistency of their songwriting throughout the decades.


It’s seldom spoken of, and easily overlooked, just how influential Uriah Heep have been on countless other bands. ‘Free & Easy’ from the album ‘Innocent Victim’ is a perfect example of this. A song that was first released in 1977, long before Iron Maiden’s debut release, but the similarities between the two are remarkable. Tonight’s performance was for me one of the highlights of their set. I’ve always thought that the quality of a band’s backing vocals are what separates the great from the good, and tonight they sounded magnificent. ‘Gypsy’, the opening track from their debut album, the classic ‘Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble’, is a song built into the foundations of Classic Rock. Its influence is immeasurable. Fifty-four years after its first release, and it still sounds immense.


They finished their short but extremely impressive set with probably their most well-known song, ‘Easy Living’. The updated drum and bass arrangements on the older songs made them sound considerably heavier than the versions originally recorded. This is something that makes their music as relevant in 2024 as it was in 1970. As I said at the start of this review, “to adapt is to survive”.


Tonight, Uriah Heep showed everyone why they are legends, and the twelve thousand fans inside Wembley Arena gave them the respect they thoroughly deserve.


 

Review & Photos: Myke Gray

 


 

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nikkycurry
Apr 17
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Excellent review and superb photos but could have done with a proof read, there’s a couple of errors in the text but nothing to detract from the review. Just my own experience as a former proof reader niggling me. I am available at very reasonable rates 🤣🤣

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