Fotodisk 1989 / Uriah Heep 2017
Emerging out of fallow years with a mighty roar, British lions prepare for a new ascension.
“Raging Through The Silence”: it was a very apt title for this video, documenting URIAH HEEP‘s homecoming concert. The ’80s weren’t their best decade, because for all the musicians’ efforts to harness the period’s style, it simply went against the grain of what defined them as a collective – yet the band soldiered on nevertheless. There’s a weight of legacy now on the ensemble’s shoulders, a legendary status they so elegantly wear, but in 1989 the quintet – invigorated by the addition of the highly energetic Bernie Shaw to the front line – were reinventing the method for years to come, which is the moment captured here, with “That’s The Way That It Is” a poignant comment on the state of affairs there and then.
That’s, perhaps, why the band boldly decided to begin their concert at “The London Astoria” with the boisterous “Bad Bad Man” where “the twenty-first century” is a tagline, rather than with a classic from the past: careening on the pop side of things, this piece throws a riff in the face of their audience for the listeners to reflect the players’ own smile, while Mick Box and Trevor Bolder cruise towards each other to rock it hard. The fringed-leather phase might have been short for HEEP, yet the dynamics the ensemble’s had recently embraced, which involved much more stage motion for enhanced presence, stayed with them ever since. It doesn’t take long for everyone to reconnect with the group’s history once the roar of Phil Lanzon’s Hammond linked the ever-expanding “Cry Freedom” to the sly singalong of “Stealin'” – the latter sounding a tad superficial due to overall fun of the performance as opposed to the streamlined sincerity demonstrated on “Too Scared To Run” that would return to the band’s repertoire many years down the line
There’s a lot of looseness to the soulful “More Fool You” and the otherwise over-effusive “The Other Side Of Midnight” exposing the collective’s mastery of pop attack, yet “Mr. Majestic” has the ’80s written all over its dry sway. But whereas “Blood Red Roses” loses a lot of gravity in live delivery, “The Wizard” proudly flaunts the quintet’s vocal harmonies heralding the show’s shift to epics that unfold the band’s full power. More so, the rhythm section’s microcosm, taken out of this world thanks to a four-string acrobatics, on “July Morning” and the perspective of HEEP’s logo on the singer’s singlet, on a bass drum’s skin and on the stage backdrop create a 3D-like perception of what’s going on. Yet if “Gypsy” – still high on guitar histrionics – is condensed into metal cannonball, with no slack left after its rock ‘n’ roll intro, the gracious “Easy Livin'” flies like an arrow, straight and fast, for the concert to triumphantly climax, via Lee Kerslake’s thunderous solo, with “Look At Yourself” – which, again, was a show of defiance for the naysayers who conscripted HEEP to yesterdays.
It would be some more time before the band got back on track, but this video, not being their finest hour, is a testament to their persistence and, as such, was worth salvaging out of oblivion to make it on to DVD and, for the first time ever, distilled to pure CD audio as well. Still, high ‘n’ mighty, long may they run.