In their thirty five year history Uriah Heep has never
played Thailand, but all of that was put to rights at the B.E.C. Tero Stadium
on Friday 17th February 2006. In a word, the Heep were superb. Without doubt
the finest show put on by a Western rock band ever in Thailand’s fair capital
B.E.C. Tero was full to its capacity of 3600, and the
audience was ready to rock. They were not let down. To a well timed entrance
the Heep arrived, and gave the audience a dazzling display of their skills,
demonstrating how tight this lineup of Uriah Heep has become over the last
Phil Lanzon is the perfect keyboardist for Uriah Heep, both
extrovert and skilful, handling the barrage of keyboards with ease. Bassist
Trevor Bolder was a complete revelation, handling his musical weapon of choice
like a lead instrument, and the crowd was also treated to several bass solos.
On lead vocals was the incomparable Canadian Bernie Shaw. Bernie is now the
complete article singer / performer / ringmaster / rabble rouser; call him what
you want. From the very first song, the audience was eating out of his hands,
especially as Bernie had learnt how to thank the Thai audience in their own
language, and waied them after the first song.
Bernie was dressed in an orange top and some tight fitting
blue and red strides, both of which had been bought at a Bangkok market the
night before. He kept his microphone in a hip holster when not in use so he
looked every inch the dandy cowboy. During instrumental breaks Bernie would
wander off the stage, arriving back just in time to pick up the vocals again.
This was shown to magnificent effect during the introduction to ‘July
Morning’. After the band had rampaged into the beginning of the song and the
keyboards brought it all down quietly again, it was time for the opening vocal
line. You wondered whether the vocalist had got lost, as there was no sign of
him, but with split second timing, Bernie saunters onto the stage, acknowledges
the cheers, sits himself down on one of the monitors before singing out the
opening line, “There I was on a July morning lookin’ for love”, driving
the crowd to fever pitch.
The only original member of Uriah Heep left from 1969 is
their lead guitarist Mick Box, one of the most unique lead guitarists on this
planet (or any other come to that). On Friday 17th February 2006 for Bangkok
Mick Box pulled all the stops, his soloing was literally blistering,
particularly while using his customary wah-wah peddle. Mick Box stomped and
rocked his way through the shows electric numbers only standing still to play
the acoustic introductions to songs like ‘Wizard’ or final sing-a-long
‘Lady In Black’. During the rest of the time the guitar was either being
slung around his head or his back or with one foot on the monitors he would use
it as a mock machine gun to mow the audience down.
You could not find a better front three musicians and
showmen than the combined trio of Bernie Shaw, Trevor Bolder, and Mick Box.
At the back, behind a massive drum kit, sat a big man. Lee
Kerslake is the finest rock ‘n’ roll drummer on the circuit in this day and
age. Lee Kerslake launches himself into every song and it is doubtful whether
his drum kit actually needs to be miked up as he hits those drums so hard, they
can be heard for miles. Lee Kerslake’s drum solo probably brought the loudest
cheers of the night. Not forgetting that Lee also sings all the back up vocals
too, so quite a workload during the two and a half hour concert.
When you have been a rock band for thirty five years and
released twenty studio albums it is almost impossible to select a set that will
balance itself out, and keep everybody happy. The Uriah Heep set played in
Bangkok was nearly perfect, spanning their whole career. Two songs each from
their first four albums ‘Very’ Eavy ... Very ‘Umble’ (1970):
‘Gypsy’ with an amazing Mick Box solo section and ‘Come Away Melinda’.
‘Salisbury’ (1971) was represented by ‘Bird Of Prey’ and ‘Lady In
Black’; ‘Look at Yourself’ (1971) by the title song and of course ‘July
Morning’, ‘Demons and Wizards’ by ‘The Wizard’ and ‘Easy Livin’.
We were treated to three from ‘Magicians Birthday’
(1972): ‘Rain’, a beautiful song done purely with Phil Lanzon on piano and
Bernie Shaw singing, ‘Sunrise’ and the good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll
of ‘Sweet Lorraine’. They managed to squeeze in two songs from ‘Sweet
Freedom’ (1973): the hypnotic ‘Stealin’ and the crowd pleasing ‘If I
Had The Time’.
This still left room for opener ‘So Tired’ from
Wonderworld (1974). The throwaway sing-along pop of ‘Free Me’ from Innocent
Victim (1977), ‘Year And A Day’ from Return To Fantasy (1975), ‘Falling
In Love’ from ‘Fallen Angel’ (1978), the magnificent ‘Cry Freedom’
from ‘The Raging Silence’ (1988), ‘Words In The Distance’ from ‘The
Sea Of Light’ (1995), and unfortunately only one song from their latest album
‘Sonic Origami’ (1998): ‘Between Two Worlds’.
All this led to a perfect set, plenty of rockers, a couple
of ballads, some sing-a-longs, some brilliant musicianship, but most
importantly a good time was had by all. (This Dog would have liked a bit more
from ‘Sonic Origami’ and ‘The Raging Silence’, something from
‘Abomonimog’ and the songs ‘Mr. Majestic’ and the ‘Magicians
Birthday’, but then we would have been somewhere over the four hour mark).
The B.E.C. Tero hall proved an excellent concert hall for a
rock show and the sound was crystal clear, due to excellent acoustics and a
hard working sound crew including Howard, Charlie, and both Daves. We all hope
that the promoters were happy with the concert and bring back Uriah Heep at the
earliest opportunity. Bangkok wants them to come back and certainly Uriah Heep
want to come back.
Do not worry Mick Box, it was just like the Albert Hall.