That anyone can pay £20 to see one of the UK’s most enduring rock bands, and then gawp at their phone looking at the football results, may say more about the state of music in 2013 and – moreover - how bands compete now with a whole range of other distractions.
It may also say more about why Virgil & The Accelerators are not ‘bigger’ than they are. Having tread the boards solidly for the past four years or so (when Virgil was only 17) the expected major breakthrough has not yet arrived. Some excellent support slots in the next few months – of which this is the first – should help.
Thirty minutes is not enough to really savour the delights of Virgil and his crew. In truth the band could probably do with a few radio-friendly tunes but for the moment songs like ‘Backstabber’, ‘Refuse To Believe’ and ‘88’ (from debut ‘The Radium,’) make a hefty impact. Virgil himself is a likeable guitar hero.
To see Uriah Heep in a small rock club as they warm up for their tour is quite a novelty. The ‘Tiv’ was witness to many a rock band 20 years ago and I have a flyer which shows that Magnum and Oasis appeared there within a few weeks of each other back in 1994.
As you would expect, this was a masterclass in hard rock. If there seemed to be an unhealthy emphasis on seventies songs (and in particular the album ‘Demons And Wizards’), there was no doubting the excellence of the engaging frontman Bernie Shaw and the genial Mick Box. Sadly, though, veteran bassist Trevor Bolder was absent due to hospitalisation and John Jowitt (Arena, IQ) deputised.
The few songs from the current album ‘Into The Wild’ showed that the band have never lost their ‘mettle’ and there’s talk of a new album later this year. However the inevitable fixation on the old classics merely served to emphasise the ever-present shadow of one-time frontman David Byron, just as the swelling Hammond evoked prime-time Ken Hensley.
If Bernie’s talk of exceeding any curfew tonight was somewhat disingenuous for a band that stuck rigidly to their setlist, it did beg the question of how difficult it must be to compile that setlist after a lifespan stretching across four decades or more. But there was nothing remotely risky here or revelatory, just a solid revisiting of former glories such as ‘Traveller In Time’, ‘Sunrise’ and ‘All My Life’.
For the encore, the band asked for the ladies in the audience to join them on stage for a rousing version of ‘Free ‘N’ Easy’. If this resembled more a cross-generational W.I. meeting, it may have been just the thing to nudge football-score man away from his four inch screen.
Review by David Randall
Photos by Simon Dunkerley
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Manchester RNCM, 23 February 2013
Uriah Heep are an English rock band formed in London in 1969 and are regarded as one of the seminal hard rock acts of the early 1970s. Currently 2 dates into their Nail On The Head tour.
While not an ideal venue (it’s seated) the crowd stand up where they can and give a rousing welcome to the band. We are treated to a setlist tonight that spans there career and the band are in great form. The only member of the current line not with us tonight is Trevor Bolder who is recovering from illness but his place has been suitably filled by JJ (John Jowitt).
The show is pretty much what you would expect from a band of their calibre as is the music. As the show rolls to an end we are then treated to an encore which sees Bernie Shaw (vocals) inviting all the ladies he can onto the stage to join in with Free N Easy before finally ending with the classic Easy Livin.
Review by Simon Dunkerley
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 23 March 2021.
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