Uriah Heep

By Wal Reid

Artist:  Uriah Heep

Date / Venue:  Saturday March 28th, The Studio, Auckland

Uriah Heep have a vigour and style that would put most bands half their age to shame.

Original member Mick Box still has the chops that commands admiration from fans and guitarists alike, while vocalist Bernie Shaw (at the helm since '86) has charisma in bucket loads a sprightly charm that dare I say that Kiwi artist Lorde could take a page from (trying to avoid the moongate-isms).

It always catches me off guard when harbouring no expectation. I am blown away by sheer talent, I'd have to say the same can be said about Uriah Heep last night, totally unexpected, didn't see it coming. Sure there will be those naysayers out there that will say the band is beyond their use by date, however the British rockers who at one stage sported Kiwi bass player Gary Thain (he died in '75 from an overdose) managed to avoid the ‘Spinal Tap' trappings and lift the roof off Auckland's Studio.

The Prog/Rock English group that started in 1969 spawned numerous hits that are well known around the world, their trademark keyboard and anthemic vocal harmonies let loose on classic Heep tunes Lady in Black, Easy Livin' and the epic ten minute opus of The Magicians Birthday complete with guitarist Mick Box and powerhouse drummer Russell Gilbrook trading licks faithful to the original while exciting the faithful followers no end.

It was a chronological journey from Uriah's ‘umble beginnings to their 24th studio album Outsider which was released last year. The hotly anticipated album features new bass player Davey Rimmer who joined after Trevor Bolder passed away from cancer, the ‘mature' crowd occasionally lifting their glasses of beer at Shaw's every whim and indulging in the odd sing-a-long to Stealin' or the iconic hit song Gypsy.

Bernie Shaw is living proof that old rockers never die they just get better with age, his rich gravel dulcet tones never sounded better, keyboardist Phil Lanzon's looming tall figure raising hell on the keys really hit home the sound of the band we all know and love, I have to point out that while I was more interested in the staple Heep hits, new songs The Law and The Outsider stacked up sonically against the more well-known ‘archived' Heep songs, one for which I could not fault.

One indelible thought as I left the concert: was I gutted they didn't play the only Uriah Heep song I knew as a kid Free Me? You bet ya, but as Bernie said "I'm here, you're here let's rock together..." and that was all that mattered...