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.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Was at this gig (seat balcony D47). I’d always wanted to see Uriah Heep ever since my mate got “Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble” with it’s fantastic cover. I thought that WWUB were OK, especially as they had a couple of members of the Spiders playing with them, but Uriah Heep did not disappoint, especially with Gypsy and July Morning. Still got the programme.


  2. Many thanks for sharing your memories Peter. That was an excellent write-up.

    Thanks also for confirming that Woody Woodmansey’s U-Boat was the opening act. I will update the official gig list accordingly.


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