at The Sage, Gateshead, U.K., October 8, 2022

URIAH HEEP (Live at The Sage, Gateshead, U.K., October 8, 2022)
Photo: Mick Burgess

There’s been many ups and downs along the way from Top 10 albums, gold discs and huge world tours including being first ever Western Rock band to play in Russia to the usual band fallouts, drugs and downturns due to changing musical climates. Uriah Heep have seen them all over a remarkable career that has spanned 52 years and 24 studio albums and tonight was a celebration of all that has made Heep one of the great British Rock institutions.

Delayed for two years by Covid, the festivities began with a montage of video greetings from the likes of Deep Purple, KISS, Queen and Alice Cooper before the first of two sets commenced.

Heep are no strangers to the acoustic setting and tonight saw them in stunning form, digging deep into their catalogue with some wonderful reworkings of “Circus” and “Tales”. Fan favourite “Come Away Melinda” went down a storm but it was perhaps the mini medley of “Confession” and “Rain” with just vocalist Bernie Shaw and keyboardist Phil Lanzon on stage which captured the moment perfectly. Totally vulnerable, totally exposed and totally beautiful.

Sometimes acoustic sets can quickly become somewhat one-dimensional but when there’s a catalogue of songs such as “The Wizard” and “Circle Of Hands” to draw from this was never going to happen at a Heep show and with the impressive vocals of Shaw and the exquisite four-part harmonies, this just showed what a class act they are as they closed the first set with an inspired “Lady In Black” which saw the crowd singing as the band slowly filed off stage.

A short interval allowed some time for a look around the Heep Museum in the foyer which contained an array of memorabilia from awards, vintage posters, artwork and guitars. This was a nice touch that just added to the celebratory feel of the evening.

A series of vintage video clips heralded the start of the second set which saw Heep return to their full-blown electric best, turned up to eleven and ready to Rock.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, Heep mined their deep and varied catalogue to maximum effect, pulling out vintage gems that have rarely been played over the years including the epic “The Hanging Tree” and the dark, menacing “Rainbow Demon” as well as the up-tempo banger from their Abominog opus, “Too Scared To Run.”

More recent cuts including “Between Two Worlds” and “Against The Odds” showed a band who could continue to grow and craft gems far into their career and when they put their foot down on “Free ‘n’ Easy” they absolutely hammered it.

Arguably one of the big highlights of the night was a monstrous rendition of “Sunrise” with delicious vocal harmonies that’d make Queen green with envy. This was big, bold and wonderfully dramatic capturing the majesty of Heep in one song.

Bernie Shaw, surely one of the most underrated vocalists around, was outstanding all evening but none more so on a scintillating “July Morning” where his emotional delivery, power and range was off the scale. No wonder band founder and guitarist Mick Box was permanently smiling.

A gallery of photos of all past members, brought many a cheer, before a duo of platinum coated Rock classics, “Gypsy” and the wonderful shuffle of “Easy Livin’” closed the evening’s celebrations in exuberant style.

Uriah Heep quite rightly sit at the top table of British Rock, a spot they have held for over half a century alongside Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and this evening was a fitting tribute to a classic band with an incredible catalogue of timeless music.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • 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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