Live Review: Uriah Heep – SWG3, Glasgow

Any virgins in Glasgow?” was the dark and dingy embodiment of what a rock n’ roll venue should be. The night Heep paid their respects, people were ripping up chairs and taking them home as souvenirs. I’m sure I saw someone coming out of the toilets with a toilet seat around their neck. With bouncers scarce on the ground, I enjoyed the gig from the stalls, the circle, the upper balcony, and the boxes. 33 years later, I still have my stub (£4.50 a ticket, if you are interested), and Uriah Heep still have that special place in my heart. Up yours Weller, you suck. In 2018, Uriah Heep are celebrating their 48th anniversary, and are still releasing top quality new music. Studio album number 25, ‘Living The Dream’, was released earlier this year, and is a total banger. With the exception of Deep Purple and ‘Infinite’, it’s hard to think of a band from the golden era of British rock still producing the goods in the studio today, but, it’s in the live arena where Mick Box and company really come alive, and blow all others away. Von Hertzen Brothers take a break from their own headlining shows to serve as opening act for Uriah Heep tonight. The stage is so dark and gloomy that it could be the Chuckle Brothers (too soon?) on stage, but thankfully, through the bank of red lights, the unmistakable figure of vocalist/guitarist Mikko Von Hertzen can (just) be made out. Flanked by siblings Kie on guitars and vocals, and bassist/keys man Jonne, they make a striking frontline. Heep must have realised how special the Finns are, as they get a decent amount of time on stage. Opening track (and title track of their most recent opus) ‘War Is Over’ is epic in every sense of the word. With a running time of over ten minutes, it’s a staggering way to open a “support” set, and highlights the incredible musicianship of everyone on stage. Don’t tie yourself in knots trying to pigeonhole the band, they describe themselves as “EPIC ROCK” (all caps), and it’s hard to disagree. As ‘War Is Over’ sweeps over the audience, Kie is mesmerising as he gets wrapped up in the song. I could have watched him all night. ‘Jerusalem’ is the current single/video, and the mix of military style drums and spacey keyboards during the intro is hypnotic. If only we could have actually seen drummer Sami Kuoppamaki, we would have marvelled at his incredibly visual playing. Instead we make do with hearing his masterful performance, especially during the percussive intro to ‘Coming Home’, which features some audience participation, as well as oodles of lovely organ, courtesy of Robert Engstrand. By the time they bring their set to an end, those unfamiliar with the band can be seen checking them out on Spotify (at least the dude next to me was). Hardcore VHB fans can be seen turning and heading towards the merch stand for a quick chat with Mikko who is on his way over to press some flesh. As mentioned already, ‘Living The Dream’ might be Heep’s 25th studio album, but it’s full of bangers. Bangers that include the three pillars of the Uriah Heep sound: majestic organ (courtesy of Phil Lanzon), lush vocal harmonies, and lashings of riffage from guitarist Mick Box. ‘Grazed By Heaven’ opens the album, as well as the live set. The band look amazing and sound incredible. Vocalist Bernie Shaw is as amiable as ever, and hits the high notes with ease. The plumes of smoke are bothering him though, and he jokingly tells the guy at the control desk, “turn the fucking smoke off, it’s killing me up here!” What’s encouraging to witness is exactly how heavy the set leans towards the new album, not wanting to be a “nostalgia” act. As well as the aforementioned ‘Grazed By Heaven’, there’s the epic title track, the glorious ‘Take Away My Soul’, ‘Rocks In The Road’ and the acoustic driven ‘Waters Flowin’’. All effortlessly hold the audience’s attention. Not many similar bands could pull off “dropping” five new songs into a set, but Uriah Heep manage it with ease. With a songbook bursting at the seams, it must be hard to please everyone. From the back catalogue we get; ‘Too Scared To Run’ from 1982’s ‘Abominog’, before the band turn to the ‘70’s for ‘Rainbow Demon’, ‘Gypsy’, ‘July Morning’, ‘Lady In Black’, ‘Look At Yourself’, ‘Sunrise’, and what else could close the set but ‘Easy Livin’’. Mick Box talks to the crowd constantly throughout the set, pointing out familiar faces in the crowd and stating, “there can’t be many bands that know the names of the front row wherever they go in the world!” He also gets his moment in the spotlight with a cosmic guitar solo which sees no-one making the usual exodus to the bar. It’s a jam with Lanzon, bassist Dave Rimmer and drummer Russell Gilbrook, who all get a chance to shine. Gilbrook, in particular, puts in one hell of a shift, battering his kit to near submission. Uriah Heep celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2020. By that time, I wager that they will have released at least one more stunning new album, and made a few more trips around the world playing to the faithful, all in preparation for a magical 50th birthday party. Make no mistake, Uriah Heep are on fire right now. Catch them the next time they pass through your town. Review: Dave S Images: Dave J [gallery type='flickr' user_id='132278830@N06' view='photosets' photoset_id='72157676653446268' media='photos' columns='3' tag_mode='any' sort='date-posted-desc' per_page='46' layout='square' caption='title' thumb_size='s' main_size='z' ]  ]]>

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