Uriah Heep Sage Gateshead 8 October 2022

HEEP JOHNThis was a special, emotional evening for a number of reasons. First, and most importantly, my friend John came over from the States for a short trip with his wife, Susan, to see family and friends. Now John and I have been friends for many years and one of the first bands we went to see together at Newcastle City Hall in 1971 or 1972 was, none other, than Uriah Heep. So it was great to see John again, for real rather than virtually (which we do regularly and often), after many, many years. And to share Uriah Heep together in concert was something special. And this was their 50th anniversary tour although it had been postponed for three years because of Covid! To think that we were seeing one of our favourite bands together some 50 years or more later just seems incredible!

HEEPTIXNow as it was their 50th anniversary tour, Heep had chosen to do something quite different. The concert was in two parts, the first being an acoustic set, something I have never seen them do before. I arrived with my carer, Jan, in plenty of time to meet up with John before the show, swap stories and generally catch up on things. Then came showtime. The night opened with a video screen showing many other famous classic heavy bands, and artists, congratulating Uriah Heep on their 50th anniversary: Alice Cooper, Francis Rossi, Pete Agnew of Nazareth, Paul Stanley of Kiss, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Vanilla Fudge and many others. Now the only original, and surviving member of Uriah Heep is guitarist Mick Box who looks just great, really fit, lovely pure white long hair, and plays guitar just as he always did.

HEEP SHIRTThe rest of the band have joined some time along the way, the singer Bernie Shaw has been a member for many years and does a great job of singing those classic, almost operatic, tracks from the 70s and onward. The other members also are great musicians: Phil Lanzon on keyboards, who joined at the same time as Bernie in 1986, Russell Gilbrook on drums and Dave Rimmer on bass, both of whom joined more recently.

HEEP1The acoustic set comprised several songs which were unfamiliar to me, some which were old favourites and lend themselves to acoustic treatment such as “The Wizard” and closing number “Lady in Black”. A surprise and great track from the first album, which John and I agreed we had never seen them play before, the haunting “Come Away Melinda” (also made famous by the great Tim Rose). A very pleasant change and surprise. Excellent for starters.

During the interval I had another chance to catch up with John (we bought tickets separately, at different times and hence were not seated together), another Guinness, and John and I both agreed the acoustic set was different yet excellent. We saw a very different side of the band.

HEEP3After a short break the band were back for the electric set, more in their usual format. To open the second set the video screen displayed images of all the past members, too many to mention. Members I would highlight for various reasons are keyboard player and writer of many of those classic songs, the late Ken Hensley; he of the magnificent operatic voice from the classic line-up, the late, great front man David Byron; surprisingly to me, local Sunderland hero (now a long-term member of Elton John’s band) drummer Nigel Olsson (who played on two tracks of the debut album); John Lawton who became singer after David Byron left and did a great job; former Spider from Mars, and also a member of Wishbone Ash at one point, the late great bass player, Trevor Bolder; another sadly passed bassist from the classic years Gary Thain and long-time more recently passed drummer Lee Kerslake.

HEEP7In a similar way to the acoustic set, the band played old and new songs, some familiar, some new to me. Some which I absolutely love: the very atmospheric, operatic “Sunrise”, the rocking “Stealin'” and the great rock ‘n’ roll of “Sweet Lorraine”. Closing song “July Morning” is, as it always was, the closest Uriah Heep get to a ballad and just wonderful. Other familiar tracks were “Traveller in Time” and “Free ‘n’ Easy”. For the encore Mick Box took us right back to the start and the very basic, heavy metal riff of “Gypsy”. So simple and yet so great and just pure genius! The final song was another great rocker “Easy Livin'”. Congratulations to the band on 50+ great years. Long may they continue.

HEEP8I met up with John on the way out. We both agreed that the show was excellent in every way. By the way, thanks to Jan for her photography and she is now a Uriah Heep fan! And thanks to John for a picture of his T-shirt!


Acoustic set: Circus; Tales; Free Me; Come Away Melinda; Confession / Rain; The Wizard / Paradise / Circle of Hands; Lady in Black.

Electric set: Against the Odds; The Hanging Tree; Traveller in Time; Between Two Worlds; Stealin’; Too HEEP2Scared to Run; Rainbow Demon; What Kind of God; Sunrise; Sweet Lorraine; Free ‘n’ Easy; July Morning.

Encore: Gypsy; Easy Livin’

10 responses to this post.

  1. Good review, Peter – thanks 👏.
    Heep are definitely still rocking and, as you say, it was very different to see the set split in such an unusual way.
    I saw them on this same tour a couple of weeks before you; here’s my gig review.

    Keep on rocking,
    Roger 👍


  2. Posted by John Johnstone on October 16, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    Great review Peter. I would have loved to see them play Come Away Melinda, it is one of my favourite tracks of theirs ever. The only time I saw them was at the City Hall in 1977 supported by Woody Woodmanseys U-Boat and was they were superb. To see Gypsy live was an absolute highlight (I first heard that song on Jensens Dimensions on Radio Luxembourg and it blew me away)


    • Posted by vintagerock on October 17, 2022 at 12:55 pm

      Many thanks John yes Gypsy is wonderful. So basic and raw! I think I will have been at the 1977 concert at the City Hall. Happy days Peter


      • I saw Heep back in ’77 too, although my gig was at Reading Festival.
        The rock press were not particularly kind to the band by this stage, preferring to ridicule and mock them and their followers.
        Remember that Punk was the new King by then.
        I can’t remember a lot about that performance but I have written down a few memories and added what press cuttings I can find here:

        Roger 👍

      • Posted by vintagerock on October 17, 2022 at 1:16 pm

        Hi Roger many thanks for reminding me. I had forgotten that they were on at Reading in 1977. You are right for many years they were seen as a 2nd rate metal band. For me they rate up there with contemporaries such as Deep Purple, UFO, Nazareth and others. I can’t remember the Reading set at all. Where were they on the bill Roger? Happy days Peter

      • Hi Peter,
        They were on the Friday, third on the bill behind Eddie and the Hot Rods and headliners Golden Earring.

        Roger 👍

      • Posted by vintagerock on October 17, 2022 at 1:31 pm

        Thanks Roger I may have been in the Gryphon near the bridge at that time! I don’t recall seeing them! I sometimes spent too much time in the pub at the later Festivals I went to! Happy days Peter

  3. Posted by Paul White on October 17, 2022 at 5:26 am

    I missed this show due to covid. And in totally jealous that you saw the original lineup with Byron, although I got to meet him later. I actually bumped into him at the Mayfair bar when The Byron Band were playing. First saw Heep in 77 with Lawton


    • Posted by vintagerock on October 17, 2022 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks Paul so sorry you missed the band. Very jealous that you got to meet the great David Byron. I miss the Mayfair happy days Peter


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