Gig review: URIAH HEEP – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 14 December 2018

URIAH HEEP - Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 14 December 2018

Classic Rock doesn’t get much more classic than this, with Uriah Heep promoting their latest opus Living The Dream and this London show, given the amount of friends and family present, a bit like a homecoming.

With two support bands, the doors opened at 6.30 sharp and Finnish rock band the Von Hertzen Brothers kicking off at 7pm. And well worth the compromise of bar time they were. The band consist of three brothers (two guitars, vocals and bass between them) who come from a musical family, the line-up bolstered by drums and keyboards.

Promoting their seventh album, they took their classic rock in occasional prog directions. The crowd were definitely on the light side, but this filled up and those there got a treat. The shorter songs (for me) didn’t work so well, but one particularly long one was just amazing, it nodded to Eloy circa 1979 and that’s a big tick in my box. Almost enough for me to want to explore the catalogue. Great start.

Gun - Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 14 December 2018

A more trendy classic rock with Scottish band Gun, whose current line-up are going great guns, and like VHB got a great reception. They played and worked the crowd like they’d never been a away. Some great riffs, the classic ‘Better Days’, and even their own surprise cover of Cameo’s ‘Word Up’, what’s not to love? Their 2017 album Favourite Pleasures was a hit in the UK, and on this evidence rightfully so.

Gun - Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 14 December 2018

And so to Uriah Heep’s homecoming. By now the venue was full, the audience an older bias, but the crowd blew the roof off when the band took to the stage. Their 25th studio album Living The Dream has had some great reviews, and with the amount of tracks aired from it tonight (taking a leaf out of Saxon’s book), they are clearly confident in it too.

URIAH HEEP - Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 14 December 2018

A set with only 13 tracks, there’s clearly much from a much underrated catalogue to explore (personal favourite ‘Return To Fantasy’ has been dropped), but here the emphasis was on playing, and crikey was the playing excellent. On every count. Many tracks, especially the older ones, had extended work outs and the band chemistry was on fire. Blistering. So a decent length show with just amazing music. Simple.

The band have had a stable line-up, the only two changes since the mid 80s due to health related retirements, including drummer Lee Kerslake and the sadly departed Trevor Bolder.

URIAH HEEP - Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 14 December 2018

The newer tracks kicked off, and each and every one was loved and rocked to. Singer Bernie Shaw the consummate professional introduced each one and spoke the crowd. It’s hard to believe bassist Davey Rimmer has been in the band since 2013 but the whole band were like a family.

And while the new tracks got an incredible welcome, the older tracks were a storm. Shaw’s vocals were strong, the formerly Byron led tracks now given a new powerful if less operatic touch, and guitarist and founder Mick Box (who didn’t stop grinning once) worked incredibly with bassist Rimmer. Russel Gilbrook owns the drum stool with power and passion, and a large part of the sound comes from keyboardist Phil Lanzon.

URIAH HEEP - Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 14 December 2018

Mick Box proved himself the master of guitar, and he’s just SO underrated. Seriously, he soloed and riffed like a master tonight and the crowd loved every second of it.

‘Gypsy’ – what an absolute corker of a song delivered as if their lives depended on it.

URIAH HEEP - Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 14 December 2018

Drummer Lee Kerslake joined the band for backing vocals and a bang or two on the drums for ‘Lady In Black’. Lovely to see him on stage as his health as seriously suffered in recent years. Fantastic guy too. Absolute legend. And the hit ‘Easy Livin’’ finished off the evening perfectly.

Never thought I’d say this, but this surpasses Saxon as my gig of the year. Superb on every level. Living The Dream indeed.

Review by Joe Geesin 
Photos by Andy Nathan 

Album review (and interview)


Von Hertzen Brothers
The Arsonist/Jerusalem/Coming Home/Kiss a Wish/Sunday Child/New Day Rising

She Knows/Don’t Say It’s Over/Better Days/Take Me Down/Word Up!/Favourite Pleasures/Steal Your Fire/Shame on You

Uriah Heep
Grazed by Heaven/Too Scared to Run/Living the Dream/Take Away My Soul/Rainbow Demon/Waters Flowin’/Rocks in the Road/Gypsy/Look at Yourself/July Morning/Lady in Black (with Lee Kerslake) Encore: Sunrise/ Easy Livin’

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