Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 8:30PM – Delmar Hall in St. Louis.
The night was proof positive that my new favorite bumper sticker is entirely accurate:
"I may be old, but I got to see all the cool bands!"
I'm one of the oddballs (there's a shocker, right?) who doesn't really give a great grey rat's rump whether or not anyone knows my actual age or what opinion they may have about folks of that age.
Age issues aside, the good thing is that anyone within eyeshot of this concert summary can also STILL see one of the coolest bands around: Uriah Heep.
Just for a bit of my history: When I was much younger, I often bought an album because I liked the title or the cover art was very cool. I mean, it had to be of a genre in which I was at least halfway interested, but that left things fairly wide open for purchases. It also paved the way for me to accumulate nearly 10,000 LPs before I jumped on the CD bandwagon with both feet. YOU try moving a few times with that many records!
Demons and Wizards came out in 1972, and I thought the cover art was fantastic. Hadn't heard of these Uriah Heep folks. But they were supposed to be rock, and the cover looked great. So I bought it. The album was better than the cover art, and I fell in love with a band that many reviewers likened to a "plodding dinosaur".
All these years later, a lot of those reviewers probably aren't around anymore. But Uriah Heep is still putting out albums and still touring – and still sounding great.
Anyway, a few years later I went to college; and the college newspaper was looking for writers. The only things I cared enough about at that time to write about were hockey and music.
Fortunately for me, Uriah Heep had just released Innocent Victim. Ah! A band I knew a bit about and could submit a review of a new release as my application.
The paper printed it, and when I saw "by Michael G. Kimmel", it was all over but the writing. For some reason I've never been responsible for the article title, and I DID NOT write the title for this story about Innocent Victim! I have, however, saved (as far as I am aware) anything I've ever written that wound up in print somewhere. Here's the article that started it all for me. It has led to YEARS of writing; writing that, thanks to Lord Rutledge (my mortal NHL enemy), I'm able to continue here.
So now, ladies and gentlemen…On to the show. Take a look at the set list (yes, I take notes when I go to concerts). There are some of the better known old tunes with some of the stuff from newer releases. "One Minute" and "The Law" are from the band's 2014 release Outsider, which features the same lineup as the one currently touring the U.S.
That lineup consists of the only original member (from 1967) Mick Box on guitars and vocals along with Bernie Shaw (vocals), Phil Lanzon (keyboards, vocals), Russell Gilbrook (drums, vocals), and Davey Rimmer (bass, vocals).
Rimmer replaced Heep's long-standing bassist Trevor Bolder in 2013/14 after Bolder lost a battle with pancreatic cancer in May of 2013. You might also remember Bolder as the bassist in David Bowie's backing band, The Spiders from Mars.
If you were lucky enough to be in the central west end of St. Louis on March 6, you were in for a treat. And here are the pieces that comprised said treat – an hour and 45 minutes to time travel through five decades of Uriah Heep. Take a look at the set list:
The set opened with the first track from their first release (...Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble) – "Gypsy". It's a great tune, great story; and I think that's probably why I managed to NOT start recording it until a bit into the song, so that recording just goes straight to my archives.
A guy falls in love with a gypsy queen, and the queen's father is none too pleased about that. So the king has a few henchmen drag the poor love-struck kid into a shack where he's chained and whipped until he passes out. He manages to escape but vows to return for the girl.
"One day I will go to him
Strong enough to fight and win.
The kind of a man
That he'll understand."
A couple of cuts from their third album (and the second album they released in 1971) entitled Look At Yourself. The two tracks were the title cut and then "Shadows of Grief". "Shadows" is a very good song, but put side by side with a classic like "Look At Yourself"…Well, it's just not a fair fight. "Look At Yourself" is one the Heep's best.
Then, as if to add insult to injury, they sandwiched "Shadows"… between that and, well, this one:
"Stealin'" was followed up by another track from Outsider, "The Law". Again, it's a great tune in the best of the Heep tradition. It amazes me that you can take a band like Uriah Heep and a tune such as this one - a LOT of keyboard going on, active bass, Mick Box signature guitar, Gilbrook beating his drums into submission, and Shaw's vocals, listen to how they all come together so well - and still have no problem picking one out of the mix over any other. All distinct parts and all distinctly apparent.
Ah yes. Another of my favorite Heep songs. "Sunrise", from 1972's The Magician's Birthday (which, incidentally, was the second release for Heep in '72. Four albums in two years!). I have to admit I was a bit surprised that they did "Sunrise" and "The Magician's Birthday" from the album of the same name but didn't do "Sweet Lorraine". No matter. They did a great job on both of them.
"Sunrise" was followed by "The Magician's Birthday", and then by "The Wizard", from the Demons and Wizards album released in 1972.
That only temporarily ended our trip through 1972 as the band dove headfirst into another track from Outsider: "One Minute".
"I'm looking for connections
A friendly face to say
You've got to give it one more minute
An hour, one more day."
A single cut from their 1998 release Sonic Origami follows here, and it's the first track from that album – "Between Two Worlds".
Fun fact about Sonic Origami! Track 11 – "Across the Miles" – was written by Jim Peterick and Frankie Sullivan of Survivor.
They left the stage after "Lady In Black", another one of my all-time favorite Heep tunes with more lyrics that even though they were written in 1971 sound like they might have some basis in today, as well.
"I begged her 'Give me horses to trample down my enemy.'
So eager was my passion to devour this waste of life.
But she would not think of battle that reduces men to animals.
So easy to begin and yet impossible to end.
There is no strength in numbers. Have no such misconception.
But when you need me be assured I won't be far away."
Yes, I just gave myself goosebumps again! It's a simple but GREAT song!
"Lady In Black"
The band members all came to the front of the stage and took their abbreviated bows that let you know that with luck the show wasn't over. Stage lights went down, but the house lights never came up.
EXCELLENT! At least one more, I hope.
Of course there was one more song as they time traveled back to 1972 again for a little "Easy Livin'".
After the first and only encore performance, Uriah Heep took their for real "end-of-the-night" bows, shook hands with a lot of fans, and joked around a bit with each other. Mick Box came to the front of the stage and handed out guitar picks to several folks at the front.
They did say they'd be back in St. Louis next year. Good Lord willin' and the dam don't break, I'll be there when they show up!