Whenever talking about the development of the progressive rock and metal genres, one name sadly doesn’t come up as often as it should. The criminally underrated URIAH HEEP might not have gained the fame and fortune like some of their contemporaries but with their unique, magical and heavy sound, they have influenced giants like Iron Maiden. You can still hear their influence in some younger, sometimes sadly more prominent bands. Just recently, Ghost frontman cited Uriah as one of his main sources of inspiration. Still, while many of their contemporaries now belong to history, or worse are living off of old fame, Uriah Heep has gone through thick and thin and still after 50 years they are still able to record quality, modern and outstanding records.
The latest in the line of those records is “Living The Dream”, the album the band promoted in Belgrade, Serbia last night. Songs such as “Grazed By Heaven”, “Knocking at My Door”, “Take Away My Soul” or the title track have already become a staple in any fan’s playlist. The songs sound even better and more powerful live, mixed with well-known hits such as “Look At Yourself” and rare tracks that don’t find their way into the band’s playlist too often such as “Return To Fantasy”.
Still, the second part of the set was what most of the audience was secretly hoping for. These include tracks such as “July Morning”, “Lady In Black” or “Gypsy”. This powerful concoction had everyone stand up from their seats and fill the passages in between, coming closer to the stage at the band’s initiative. I can’t shake one particular image from my head. An old man, no younger than 80 slowly making his way through a bunch of youngsters. As he was wiping the tears from his eyes, he was no doubt reminiscing about his first love or some better times Uriah Heep helped bring him back to last night, at least for a short while.
The well-played team was lead by Mick Box, the only remaining founding member of the band. The group must have found the fountain of youth and selfishly kept its location a secret. There’s no other explanation since they looked and sounded younger than the first time I saw them in 2006. Bernie Shaw, the singer of the band is also their most powerful weapon. One of the most underrated hard rock vocalists, Shaw was brilliant with any not he hit. He can give younger singers a few tips on how to sing, how to act and most importantly, how to feel a song.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of people in attendance last night. A lot of my friends didn’t even know about the show, which made me doubt the band would even have someone who’ll sing along with them. Fortunately, almost all seats in the venue were filled up. I can’t get into exact numbers, but I guess this is an attendance any promoter can look forward to. Still, the concept of sitting at a show like this kind of ruined the atmosphere in the beginning. It was only when Shaw nonverbally invited everyone back to front to stand up did the atmosphere pick up.
No matter how many words I type, I can’t even begin to capture my fascination with the band and their shows that grows every time I see them again. The level of technical prowess and atmosphere is impossible to capture in writing. I am slightly mad that a band like this does not get the attention they deserve, while a lot of those filling much bigger venues don’t nearly deserve it. But maybe that’s alright. Maybe a band like Uriah Heep does not need a bigger venue. Maybe those who cannot appreciate and respect these giants don’t even deserve them. They don’t deserve to experience the magic the band brings to the stage every time. Those who were present last night know what magic is and how magic is made.
Text/Photos: Jovan Ristić