Archive for the ‘Uriah Heep’ Category

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 9th March 1977

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 9th March 1977
heeptixmarc77Support Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat
1977 saw a new revitalised Uriah Heep and the release of their 10th album “Firefly”. David Byron had been sacked from the band, and John Wetton also left, their replacements being John Lawton and Trevor Bolder (ex David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars) respectively. My mates and I couldn’t wait to see how the new line-up shaped up, so we went along to see them at the first opportunity we got, which was at Newcastle City Hall in March 1977. The tour programme has a pretty honest account of how Ken Hensley (who seemed to take the role of leader at the time) recognised the need for change in the band, and without explicitly naming names, how he instigated the necessary changes. Major changes like this in the line-up are interesting, and risky times for a band. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Sometimes it gives a band such a boost, such a refresh, and a need to come back fighting, that it transforms them. I saw that happen with Purple when they exploded back with Coverdale, and Genesis when they came back strong post-Gabriel. And it isn’t just about how well the new guy can sing. It’s about the whole package, the image, the look, the performance, and how well the new guy gets on with the rest of the band, and whether they “fit”. Well something (almost) like that happened with Uriah Heep.heepprogmar77 They knew that the fans and critics were watching them and that the new tour could make or break the band, and they pulled out all the stops. In some John Lawton didn’t look quite right. He looked like a cross between a club singer and a straight rocker, with his open neck shirt and leather trousers. Mick Box: “Image-wise he wasn’t quite what we were looking for, but his pipes were perfect and so we went for the music end of it.” Ken Hensley: “He had a voice that I thought would give a new dimension.” Lawton had a great voice, which suited Heep. And Trevor Bolder was already known and also seemed to fit the band live. All seemed good. “Firefly” isn’t their greatest album, but it is ok, and their live set contained all the classics, including Lady in Black and the Wizard, both of which weren’t often played in the early 70s. Great stuff. Heep were back.
Support came from Trevor Bolder’s fellow ex-Spider, and Bowie sideman, Woody Woodmansey and his new band U Boat.
SetList (something like): Do You Know; Stealin’; Look At Yourself; Lady In Black; The Wizard; July Morning; Firefly; Sympathy; Who Needs Me; Easy Livin’; Gypsy; Sweet Lorraine
The next time I saw Uriah Heep was at the Reading Festival in August 1977, when they played third on the Friday night bill before Eddie and the Hot Rods and Golden Earring. They were then back at the City Hall again in November 1977, so I got hree helpings of Heep in one year; happy days.

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 25th Nov 1975

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 25th Nov 1975
heep75tixSupport from Tim Rose?
By 1975 Uriah Heep were massively successful. John Wetton had replaced Gary Thain on bass, and the band recorded their 8th studio album “Return to Fantasy” which was seen by critics and fans alike as a return to form after the “Wonderwall” lp. They also released a “Best of Uriah Heep” compilation album which sold well. Heep embarked on a major world tour to promote “Return to Fantasy” and “Best of”. Mick Box: “we played to over one million people and travelled over 300,000 air miles; this was, once again, a very exciting time.” I saw the band at the City Hall in November 1975. This was another great gig, classic Uriah Heep, but it would be the last time that I saw the band with the great David Byron. According to the Uriah Heep website the support act for the tour was Tim Rose, who had recorded “Come Away Melinda” as covered by Heep on their first album, and was also responsible for the great song “Morning Dew”. As is often the case, I have no recollection of seeing him, perhaps I was in the City Hall bar? I suspect I would have watched Tim Rose’s set as both of the songs I mention are big favourites of mine. David Byron had by now gained a reputation for hard drinking, and this was starting to effect his performance in the band. It eventually led to him being sacked from Uriah Heep at the end of a Spanish tour in July 1976. Ken Hensley said: “David was one of those classic people who couldn’t face up to the fact that things were wrong and he looked for solace in a bottle”. Heep’s manager Gerry Bron said Byron’s dismissal was in “the best interest of the group”.
heepprog75I saw David Byron once more a couple of years later, when he was a member of Rough Diamond, a band he formed with Colosseum / Humble Pie guitarist Clem Clempson and former Wings drummer Geoff Britton. I’ll write about that gig in a day or so, as part of my coverage of Heepsters.
It was also a couple of years later, in 1977, before I saw Uriah Heep again, and by then John Lawton was the vocalist. Uriah Heep did, I think, play Newcastle in 1976 but for some reason I must have missed that gig (missed opportunities like that annoy me now….too many regrets of missed his 🙂 )
For me, Uriah Heep were truly at their peak as a live act during 1973 and 1974. The best way to remind myself of those glorious live gigs is to play my scratched vinyl copy of their double lp “Uriah Heep Live”, hold that gatefold sleeve in my hands and look through the lavish photo booklet that forms the centre of the album. It never fails to take me back. I am immediately transported to the crush in the front stalls of the City Hall. My ears are ringing, Mick Box is smiling, Ken Hensley is rocking back and forth at his Hammond, and Dave Byron is singing “Julie Morning” or “Gypsy”….or “Sunrise”. Magic. Now a CD can’t do that; sorry. Happy happy days.
Setlist something like: Devil’s Daughter; Stealin’; Suicidal Man; Shady Lady; Prima Donna; Rainbow Demon; July Morning; Return To Fantasy; Easy Livin’; Sweet Lorraine; Gypsy; Bird Of Prey; Love Machine; Look At Yourself

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 21st Nov 1973 & 17th Oct 1974

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 21st Nov 1973 & 17th Oct 1974heeppleccy
The strange little black blob pictured here is a prized plectrum that I was lucky enough to catch at a Uriah Heep gig in the early ’70s. It was thrown to me by Mick Box, and I was so excited when I caught it. It is a small black plastic Hofner pleccie and was well worn when I got it, so it had obviously been used quite a bit by Mick. I have used it myself a few times and found it quite hard and chunky; great for riffs. I would try and play “Gyspy” in the hope that it would somehow transform my playing into that of Mick Box, but sadly it didn’t quite work out. I couldn’t get the same tone or power. Still it’s nice to have it, and frightening to think that 40 or so years have passed since Mick threw it from the stage of the City Hall.
We would always try and get down to the front at Heep gigs. When Uriah Heep came on stage there was always a rush for the front. They would usually start with a favourite, perhaps “Easy Livin'” or “Stealin'” and it would be loud and rocking. There would be a massive crush at the front of the stage and Dave Byron and Mick Box would both play to the crowd. Mick would have a massive grin on his face. He would do a series of strange hand gestures, lifting one arm above his head and wiggling his fingers as a magician would do, pointing towards the strings of his guitar, as if he was magically controlling it and playing it from a distance, just like one of the wizards that they would sing about. Mick in an interview: “The hand movements came about when I play a left hand trill in the old days and we were only playing clubs, and everybody could see it to be clever. When we first went to the USA and supported Three Dog Night playing 10.000-20.000 seaters I waved my arm in the air so that all and sundry could see.” Sometimes Mick would lift his guitar above his head, or hold it out in front of himself, and let those down front strum the strings. Pure magic. I remember reading somewhere that David Byron was the ultimate rock front man, and that ain’t far wrong. Ken Hensley: “David was the communication point, the focal point of the whole group’s stage presentation. He had so much charisma, so much ability.” His vocals were amazing and his stage presence, charisma, ego and attitude were all so much larger than life. Dave Byron knew that he was a star. How could he be anything else? I can picture him now, wearing satin flares, one foot on the monitor, leaning over towards us all, hands outstretched. He was singing directly to us. Byron: “I see myself as more than just a vocalist. I have a definite job in tying the band together visually. It stands to reason that the spotlights will be on me most of the time because I’m the front man, so by moving around I can involve everyone. I take singing very much to heart, and I try to use my voice as an instrument.”
heepnov73tixAll around us down at the front of the stage were fans going absolutely crazy. I would usually stand and watch but many of the people beside me were totally manic. It was called “idiot dancing” at the time. A definition of “idiot dancing”: “a style of frenzied, abandoned dancing on the spot (invariably consisting of writhing hand and arm movements and shaking of the head) to rock music, particularly the ‘psychedelic’ style (a precursor of heavy metal) of the late 1960s. By the mid-1970s it had mutated into the less picturesque headbanging.” I notice from my tickets for Heep gigs in late 1973 and 1974 that my seat was halfway back in the stalls, or in the balcony. But by the end of the show I swear I was in the crush near to the stage.
Support for the 1974 tour was the mighty Heavy Metal Kids. Imagine it: Gary Holton and Dave Byron on the same stage in one night. Mayhem! The setlist was probably something like this: Easy Livin’; Sweet Lorraine; Stealin’; July Morning; Dreamer; If I Had The Time; Gypsy; Seven Stars; Sweet Freedom; Look At Yourself; Love Machine; Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley
heep74tixAccording to the Uriah Heep website the support act for the 1974 tour was Peter Frampton. Now I have no recollection of seeing Frampton with Uriah Heep, but hey who knows, the City Hall bar (or the City Vaults) may well have been calling me. If it was Frampton, this was at the time of his third solo album “Somethin’s Happening” and he will have played songs like “Its a Plain Shame”, “Lines on my Face” and “Doobie Wah”. A typical setlist for Uriah Heep in 1974 was: Stealin’; Suicidal Man; Something Or Nothing; Wonderworld; Sweet Freedom; I Won’t Mind; July Morning; Easy Livin’; Sweet Lorraine; Little Piece Of Leather; Look At Yourself; Gypsy; Love Machine; Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley
Bass player Gary Thain suffered an electric shock at a concert in Dallas, Texas on 15 September 1974, and was seriously injured. He was also suffering from a drug habit which was affecting his performance, and he was fired by the band in early 1975. He was replaced by former King Crimson bassist John Wetton. Thain passed away as a result of a heroin overdose, on 8 December 1975 at his London flat. He was just aged 27.
Gary Thain had a unique, and very intense bass style. He would play without a plectrum, preferring to use his fingers, and would put his entire body into the performance. I first saw him play in the Keef Hartley band, and remember being impressed by him then. He was undoubtedly a very important part of the classic Uriah Heep line-up. In just three years Gary Thain participated in over 400 live performances all over the world with Uriah Heep.
This was the end of the classic line-up, but there were still many more great concerts to come.
More Heeping tomorrow.

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 19th Jan 1973

Uriah Heep Newcastle City Hall 19th Jan 1973
heepjan73tixSupport was from Nick Pickett, who was a folk singer on the Vertigo label.
They started out as the band the critics loved to hate. A reviewer for Rolling Stone magazine even promised to commit suicide “if this band makes it” (bet he didn’t 🙂 ). But those of us who were fans understood. We knew that Uriah Heep were one of the classic rock acts of the 70s. Easily up there with Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath.
The classic Heep line-up existed between 1972 and 1975 and was Mick Box (guitar), David Byron (vocals), Ken Hensley (keyboards), Lee Kerslake (drums) and Gary Thain (bass).
One of my mates had their first album “..Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble” and we would gather in his house listening to the raw primitive riff of Gypsy and the spooky twisting tale of Come Away Melinda (which was my favourite). “Play ‘Gypsy again’.” Onto the turntable it would go, volume on full, needle down, again and again and again. And at the local Mecca, when “Gypsy” came screaming out of the speakers, the dance floor would fill with people playing air guitar and shaking their long hair around and around. “When I was only seventeen, I fell in love with a gypsy queen.” There remains something basic and primeval about that song; so simple and yet so powerful. But there was so much more to Uriah Heep; the imagery of “Demons and Wizards” (“he was the wizard of a thousand kings”), the dark folklore narrative of “Lady in Black”, the thundering, rock’n’roll of “Easy Livin'”, the majestic “Sunrise”, and that classic mirror lp cover of “Look At Yourself”. Then there was “July Morning”, Uriah Heep’s own “Stairway to Heaven”, which used dynamics, orchestral arrangements and narrative to take us to a different world; I could visualise Dave Byron standing on a warm summer morning, the sun breaking through; simply classic.
heepjan73progI got to see Uriah Heep for the first time in January 1973 on the “Magician’s Birthday” tour. I went along a semi-interested fan and came away 100% a convert. The performance was so powerful, the music so loud, and the songs so great, in every way. Dave Byron was the perfect rock vocalist, possessing an operatic voice with an incredible range, and had tremendous stage presence, commanding the audience to join in and become part of the show. Mick Box was, and remains, the unsung guitar hero, long hair and a massive grin stretching from ear to ear. Ken Hensley would rock back and forth pulling at his Hammond, a long mane of hair swaying behind him, creating sounds that blended 60s R’n’B swirl with deep Bach chords. Gary Thain was the silent, solid bass man, and Lee Kerslake was constant at the back, crashing away on the drums. And the volume. Uriah Heep understood that rock had to be LOUD, that feeling the music was just as important as hearing it. When they played ‘Easy Livin'”; the volume went up a notch, the bass notes hit me hard right in the chest, and I honestly feared I would never be able to hear again (can I sue a band for the state of my hearing today ?) The other important, distinctive and vital element of Uriah Heep in concert was the screaming harmonies. They were simply stunning live. Ok, I get that it’s not cool to say so (and I guess it’s not cool to use the word “cool” but who cares), but to a teenage kid in the stalls of the City Hall in 1973 Uriah Heep were just as good as Purple or Zeppelin or Sabbath.
I came out of the City Hall that night a big fan of Uriah Heep. I went to school the next day and bored everyone about how great they were. Oh and my ears were ringing for days after, but that was part of the fun, it reminded me that I had experienced a proper rock gig.
I’ve seen Uriah Heep another 17 or so times since. I’ve lost faith in them now and then, particularly as the line-ups changed over the years, and I’ve missed some of their tours, but I’ve always returned to them. I’m going to spend the next few days writing about Uriah Heep live (don’t worry, I’ll combine some gigs and have already reviewed some recent shows, so it won’t take me 17 days) and I will try to remind myself what made (and still makes) them so great and mighty.
Set List in Jan 1973: Sunrise; Sweet Lorraine; Traveller In Time; Easy Livin’; July Morning; Gypsy; Tears In My Eyes; Circle Of Hands; Look At Yourself; The Magician’s Birthday; Love Machine; Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley.
The above setlist is from the Birmingham gig of the tour, which was recorded for the classic Uriah Heep Live double lp. I also think they played Bird of Prey at Newcastle. I particularly remember Dave Byron announcing it as “Here is an old one, probably the last time we will play this” (it wasn’t 🙂 ) The rock’n’roll medley typically contained songs like: Roll Over Beethoven; Blue Suede Shoes; Mean Woman Blues; Hound Dog; At The Hop; Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. And we all sang along. Happy happy days.

Monsters of Rock Donington Status Quo 21st August 1982

Monsters of Rock Donington Status Quo 21st August 1982
Line-up: Status Quo, Gillan, Saxon, Hawkwind, Uriah Heep and Anvil
quoknebworthThis was the third Monsters of Rock festival, and the second time I went to the event. I drove down with my mate Dave, and we had a great time. It was a strong line-up of hard rock bands with Status Quo topping the bill, and a clutch of great support acts in Gillan, Saxon, Hawkwind, Uriah Heep and Anvil. Tommy Vance was DJ and compere for the day. Highlights for me were Hawkwind, Uriah Heep and Quo. Saxon were quite successful at the time and represented the NWOBHM, and Gillan seemed to gig constantly during that period, and was always good fun, playing a few Purple classics alongside his own material.quodoningtonUriah Heep were fronted by new(ish) singer Pete Goalby, alongside long time Heepsters Mick Box, and Lee Kerslake. Their set included classic tracks like Stealin’, The Wizard, July Morning, Gypsy and Easy Livin’. It seemed strange to me to see them so low down on the bill. Both Heep and Hawkwind would have had headline status a few years earlier. Hawkwind’s set feautured Brainstorm, Angels of Death, Urban Guerilla, Psychedelic Warlords, and of course Silver Machine and Master Of the Universe. Their ever-changing line-up at this time included Dave Brock, Huw Lloyd Langton, Harvey Bainbridge and Nik Turner. Both great bands. But the day rightly belonged to Quo, who were worthy headliners. We pushed our way right down the front for their set. This show is often rated as not one of Quo’s best, but I enjoyed seeing them headlining a festival again, and thought they were pretty good. There were some problems with the sounds, with some parts of the crowd reporting that they couldn’t hear Quo very well, but I think this depended on where you were placed in the field. This was the first time I saw the band with Pete Kircher who replaced John Coughlan on drums. Quo were celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band.
Status Quo setlist: Caroline; Roll Over Lay Down; Backwater; Little Lady; Don´t Drive My Car; Whatever You Want; Hold You Back; Rockin All Over The World; Over The Edge; What You´re Proposing; Dirty Water; 4500 Times; Big Fat Mama; Don´t Waste My Time; Roadhouse Blues; Rain; Down Down; Bye Bye Johnny.

Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977

Reading Festival 26th – 28th August 1977
reading1977prog1Reading 1977 was notable for a couple of reasons. First, the line-up finally (and sadly in my view) lost all traces of the festival’s jazz and blues roots. Instead we had lots of classic rock, with a (small) smattering of punk and new wave. Although 1977 was the year of punk, it was another year before the new music finally started to make its mark at Reading. And second, the main feature of the 1977 festival was MUD. Lots of it. Possibly the worst I have ever seen at a festival. It had been raining heavily for weeks before, which resulted in most of the site becoming a quagmire with rivers of mud, and a large mud lake right in front of the stage. Wellies were at a premium and were being sold for incredible prices in the town.
Friday’s line-up: Staa Marx; S.A.L.T; Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat; Kingfish; 5 Hand Reel; Lone Star; Uriah Heep; Eddie and the Hot Rods; Golden Earring.
A strange mix of bands on the first day. Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat (ex Bowie’s Spiders from Mars) closed their set with Suffragette City. A highlight for me was Uriah Heep; now with John Lawton on vocals. Heep were always one of my favourite bands, and still are; I was a little sad to see them third on the line-up; they would have headlined a few years earlier. Lone Star were also good; showing lots of promise at the time, and Eddie and the Hot Rods went down well with the crowd. Golden Earring closed the day with a strong performance (Radar Love!).
Saturday’s line-up: Gloria Mundi; Krazy Kat; No Dice; George Hatcher Band; Ultravox!; Little River Band; John Miles; Aerosmith; Graham Parker and the Rumour; Thin Lizzy.
I remember being impressed by Ultravox!; this was the early version with John Foxx on vocals. Aerosmith seemed a big band to feature third on the bill, drew a large crowd, and were excellent. “Dream On” from those days remains a favourite song of mine. But the stars of the day were Graham Parker (the whole crowd sang along to (Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions) and of course, headliners Thin Lizzy. Lizzy were massive at the time and played a classic set including: Jailbreak; Dancing in the Moonlight; Still in Love With You; Cowboy Song; The Boys Are Back in Town; Don’t Believe a Word; Emerald and closing with The Rocker as encore. A good way to spend a Saturday night.
reading1977Sunday’s line-up: Widowmaker; The Motors; Tiger: The Enid; Blue; Racing Cars; Wayne County and the Electric Chairs; Hawkwind; Doobie Brothers; Frankie Miller; Alex Harvey.
The Enid were a big Reading favourite and Robert Godfrey got the tired crowd going with versions of classics like The Dambusters March. The Motors and Widowmaker got the day off to a good start. Steve Ellis had left Widowmaker by this point and had been replaced by John Butler, and they still featured that crazy showman Ariel Bender. Tiger featured the excellent guitarist Big Jim Sullivan (I used to love watching him play on the Tom Jones show in the ’60s), and Blue had some neat songs (try listening to “Little Jody”) and deserved bigger success. They were fronted my ex-Marmalade Hughie Nicholson. Racing Cars went down well with the crowd; this was the year that they had a massive hit with “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” Wayne County was greeted by a hail of cans from a tired and twitchy crowd who didn’t take well to his punk songs, including the classic “If you don’t want to F**k me, F**k Off! Hawkwind were OK, as were the Doobies and Frankie Miller, but we were all there to see Alex Harvey. SAHB played the usual set and Alex told his quirky stories: Faith Healer; Midnight Moses; Gang Bang; Last of the Teenage Idols; Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong; St. Anthony; Framed; Dance to the Music. Alex hadn’t been well and this was their first gig for a few months. It was good to see them, but it wasn’t one of their best performances, and sadly it was the last time the band would play together. The end of an era.
By Sunday many people had given up and left because of the atrocious conditions. Poor John Peel tried to keep the crowd amused, partly be starting the famous “John Peel’s a C***” chant which continued into the next few years.
One final note. I had been to see The Sex Pistols play at Scarborough Penthouse club the night before the festival, and I was still buzzing with the memories of that gig. It had opened my eyes to the raw energy of punk, and that, coupled with the mud and awful conditions at Reading, meant I didn’t enjoy the weekend as much as usual. And just to make the experience complete, the alternator on my car packed in on the way back up the M1, and the car finally ground to a halt somewhere near Nottingham. After a wait of an hour or so, a kind AA man towed us back to Barnard Castle, where we waited (a few hours) for another AA relay van to pick us up and take us home. We arrived back after midnight on Monday, tired, hungry and very muddy, soggy and scruffy….the joys of festival going. Happy Days 🙂

Uriah Heep Stockton Arc 28 Feb 2013

Uriah Heep Stockton Arc 28 Feb 2013
Support: Virgil and the Accelerators
programme Went along to Stockton Arc with my mate Norm to see the mighty Uriah Heep last night. Support came from new up and coming blues rock power trio Virgil and the Accelerators who are fronted by a young ace guitarist. We only managed to catch the last couple of numbers of their set as a result of a detour to the Stag Inn, but were very impressed by what we saw. Virgil and Co are very much from the Cream/Taste/Hendrix mould and have been getting rave reviews, going down a storm everywhere they play. After a short wait Uriah Heep came on stage to a great reception from the packed house. The current Heep line-up has been stable for some time with front man, Heep main man and orginal guitarist Mick Box, longtime and great frontman singer Bernie Shaw, Phil Lanzon on keyboards and Russell Gilbrook on drums. Sadly Trevor Bolder is not able to join the band for this tour, as he has recently being undergoing treatment for cancer. The good news is that his treatment has gone well, and he is expected back in the band later this year. Bass duties are currently being handled very ably by JJ Jowitt. The set was a mix of new and old, with the usual favourites. I’ve seen Uriah Heep several times over the past 10 years or so, and they remain an amazing live act. All of the ingredients that brought them to the notice of rock fans in the 70s are still there; screaming harmonies, swirling organ, great powerful vocals, and very LOUD volume. For the encore some ladies from the audience were brought up on stage to dance to Free n Easy; which seems to be a regular feature of the set now. Stand-out tracks for me were Sunrise, Gypsy, July Morning, Lady in Black and Easy Livin’. heeparc Its strange to think that over 40 years have past since I first saw this band at Newcastle City Hall; I remember them announcing Easy Livin’ as their new single. As Mick Box said last night as he introduced Gypsy “where did all those years go?”. Mick was on fine form; his showmanship still continues to develop, as he waves his hand around and above the neck of his guitar, casting spells that cause the instrument to play itself (that probably doesn’t make sense, but if you see him play you’ll know what I mean). Great rock, great nostalgia, and still very powerful. Long may they continue to rock. Norm and I both enjoyed the concert. Uriah Heep left the stage around 11pm and we were back around 11.45pm. Setlist: Against The Odds, Overload, Traveller in Time, Sunrise, All My Life, I’m Ready, Between Two Worlds, Stealin’, Nail On The Head, Into The Wild, Gypsy, Look At Yourself, July Morning, Lady In Black. Encore: Free n Easy, Easy Livin’