Royal Northern College of Music
23rd February 2013
It is a credit to Uriah Heep that they still have that magic appeal and pull a good audience on a cold February night in Manchester. The venue, the rather grand Royal Northern College of Music was packed and if my eyes were correct I would say the band had a “Sold Out” venue out on their hands. All the better then for support act Virgil and the Accelerators who did a great job and did their rather fine thing and prep the crowd for the headline act. A band to watch with interest methinks and they have an excellent album out as well
Still led from the front by founder member Mick Box the band hit the stage at 8:30 and for the next ninety minutes plus, proves beyond a shadow of doubt that they still have what it takes. Of course with a band like Uriah Heep they could easily just trot out a Greatest Hits set but in fairness to them and as Bernie Shaw said “We want to keep on moving”. Uriah Heep never ever phone in a show they really go for it and opener Against The Odds from the soon to be reissued Sea Of Light really set the pace and from then on in it was a good mix of the more recent and the older material. Whilst there were a couple of technical difficulties with the guitar as Mick explained the pace never slackened and the band made a great job of working through these problems
The band were in top form and all of the band played magnificently although I have to single out John “J” Jowitt for special praise bearing in mind he came into Heep at the last minute and had to learn the whole set in double quick time in order to cover for Trevor Bolder who is currently still very much part of Uriah Heep although on sick leave. His bass playing was superb and his vocals added to the important blend that Uriah Heep have become known for and again as Bernie Shaw so rightly pointed out This band doesn’t use tapes or any trickery, what you see is what you get and hear.
What we actually heard was a master class in how to put on a classic rock concert. Musically the highlights were all too frequent and included the Heep classics Traveller In Time, Sunrise, All My Life, Stealin’, Gypsy, Look At Yourself, July Morning, Lady In Black, Free& Easy and of course Easy Living. With a set list just containing those classics Heep were onto a winner and July Morning sounded every bit as good tonight as it did when I first heard it in the seventies. Bernie Shaw really handles this song as though it was his own but the newer material including Nail On The Head, I’m Ready and Into The Wild from the band’s last studio album and songs like Between Two Worlds from 1998’s Sonic Origami still sound great up against the classic material. This tour of the UK is a prequel to further European dates and I am sure the reception the band will get there will be just as enthusiastic as the British dates have been although the band’s popularity mean that the band have to look for time on the road to get ideas down for new material for the next album which is now of ever pressing importance.
For now though catch Uriah Heep live wherever you can you will not be disappointed and you will most definitely not see a band going through the motions trotting out the hits. Sure you get the hits and wonderful they are but this is a living breathing band. For me personally I still get excited when I see the band and that has remained the case for the last forty years. In fact whilst the word “Legendary” is sometimes overused; in the case of Uriah Heep it is the only word that truly sums up the band. As Mick Box would say, ”Happy Days!” Happy Days indeed.
All Photographs ©Geoff Davies Photography 2013
Against The Odds
Traveller In Time
All My Life
Between Two Worlds
Nail On The Head
Into The Wild
Look At Yourself
Lady In Black
Free & Easy