at The Picturedrome, Holmfirth, UK, November 21, 2008

uriah heepFor a band on the verge of celebrating an incredible 40 years in the business you’d be forgiven for thinking that Uriah Heep would be content to sit back and rest on their laurels. Well, you’d be wrong.

Earlier this year Heep released their first new material in almost 10 years and when Wake The Sleeper finally hit the streets it was met with almost universal acclaim. Not only had Heep released one of the best albums of their illustrious career but also created one of the albums of the year with an album crammed full of classic Heep with a modern edge.

uraih heepWhen speaking to Metal Express Radio before the start of the UK tour, the usually jovial Mick Box was even more full of life extolling the virtues of the new material and saying how much he was looking forward to getting out on the road and playing the songs.

This was Heep’s first appearance at Holmfirth’s Picturedrome, an old Victorian playhouse set in a remote Yorkshire Dales village more famous for the hit UK sitcom Last of the Summer Wine than Rock ‘N’ Roll shows. The far-flung nature of the venue didn’t however; stop the hoards of Heepsters flocking to the show.

uriah heepAs Mick Box had promised, the show would highlight the new album and Heep hit the stage to the double whammy of “Wake The Sleeper” and the immense “Overload”, the latter being cut from the finest Heep tradition, incorporating all of the elements that make the band so special from the five part harmony vocals, to the wah-infused solo and the swirling Hammond organ, this is surely one of the best songs they have EVER written and live it was sensational.

uriah heepOver the course of the evening Mick Box and the boys treated the crowd to the WHOLE of the excellent new album, every last slice of it. It was a brave move and in many other bands hands this could have been enough to send the fans scurrying for the exits. With Heep however, such is the strength of the album, that the fans lapped it up. The band clearly fed off the appreciation of the crowd and put in a dynamic and passionate performance.

The songs which sound so vibrant on the album come further to life on stage with “Tears Of The World” and “Shadow” with its stirring chorus being particularly impressive. “What Kind Of God”, which tells the tale of injustice from the Native Americans’ viewpoint, was an emotional and moving moment and Bernie Shaw’s vocals were inspired.

uriah heepHeep have had many changes in their line up over the years but until last year they had a stable group for over 20 years. Unfortunately last year, the legendary Lee Kerslake retired due to health issues and his absence could well have been a big miss to the band as not only was he a fine drummer but also an integral part of the Heep harmonies and a big personality on stage. Fortunately Mick Box and the band chose Russell Gilbrook and he filled Kerslake’s shoes admirably proving that they had made the right choice.

No Heep show would be complete without the essential classics so throughout the night they came thick and fast with the titanic riffing of “Gypsy” taking pride of place alongside “July Morning”, “Easy Livin’”, “Take A Look At Yourself” and the dramatic harmonies of “Sunrise”.

uriah heepAs the band took their bows at the end of this superb and inspired show the ever beaming Mick Box looked over to his band mates with a knowing glance that a new chapter in their history was opening. With shows of this calibre and a top class album under their belt let’s hope that it’s not too long before we see Heep again.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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