Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters, Bolingbrook (US)

URIAH HEEP / FOCAL POINT 5

Date: 07th March, 2015
Venue: Tailgaters Sports & Grill Bar
Ticket: $18 (in advance) - $20 (day of)
Promoter: n/a


URIAH HEEP is one of those bands I really admire and not only due to the amazing discography offerings of the last three decades; the lineup is consisted of active musicians who are not living from the past and keep producing high-quality music, being a painful reminder of two things: a) sadly, there are no bands being formed with the potential to create music to last more than a decade, and b) there are many musician-retirees who have become a shadow of themselves offering absolutely nothing to the living organism we call music scene. Anyway, this is a huge discussion and has nothing to do with the pretty nice Saturday night (with temperature just above the freezing point) that was topped with an amazing performance by the never-aging Brits.

Several ongoing projects didn’t leave enough time to catch the opening band and almost made us miss the opening URIAH HEEP song because there was a miscommunication regarding METAL KAOZ’s press credentials. Tailgaters Sports & Grill Bar looked tiny to host the British band and I guess the VIP seating had something to do about this; I mean, having tables occupying almost 1/3 of the front of the stage space took away some of the energy that usually is presented in the front rows. Anyway, the rest of the venue was packed, and to me it seemed that there was no warming up period, something I was expecting considering how great this band is while onstage. What I said about URIAH HEEP being an active band was proven by the presence of many songs from their latest release, “Outsider”. “Speed Of Sound” was kind of expected to be the setlist starter, having an almost intro-sounding structure. The sound was awesome having on the driver’s seat the amazing frontman Bernie Shaw who looks and most importantly sings with a teenager’s energy, nailing every single musical note. Energy-wise, the same goes for the entire band and I could not but comment on Mick Box who delivered his guitar magic with impressive dexterity, making it look like it was the easiest thing to do. And yes, his trademark gestures like he’s some short of a magician while soloing with this left hand were amazing to watch. And then, the keyboard tunes took us almost four decades back to the “Firefly” with “The Hanging Tree” and man, how awesome did the guitar leads sounded! The travel in time ended with “The Law” that is not a big deviation from URIAH HEEP sound considering the lineup changes and the decades separating this song with the previous one.

By the way, taking photos while trying not to block the viewing angle of the VIP seats took away some of the fun of the first songs but this didn’t last long, so I fully enjoyed the genuine Prog Rock of “Sunrise”. Yeah, the slower tempo of this song placed on the vocals and the Hammond-sounding keyboards on the spotlight which passed the baton for the first loud singing-along. “Stealin’” got everyone singing and chanting the ooooh part which is obviously a crowd pleaser and gets the party mood going no questions asked. “We will continue to carry you backwards in 1973 with some real Prog Rock” said Mr. Shaw before revealing the band’s intention to play the entire “The Magician's Birthday”... or I should say, before nailing the ten-minutes long epos reminding/teaching to some what is exactly Progressive Rock means? During the guitar solo, the entire stage was at Mick Box’s disposal who filled the entire venue with his “rich” guitar tone, being backed up who was pounding the drums like the world was about to end. After the slower and quite emotional “What Kind Of God” (which Bernie introduced by saying “No one writes songs like these like URIAH HEEP did in 2009”), it was again time for another new one; the British singer said that “One Minute” was gaining some radio time in Europe and the same (although slower) has started happening in the States, something I believed considering the audience’s singing-along response. Despite it was past the middle of the set, the vocals sounded as if it was just the beginning of the concert without a single sign of wear and tear by the constant touring and the harsh weather in the North-East US. And as if this was not enough, URIAH HEEP hit us with another Prog Rock epos, entitled “July Morning” (ok, the below-freezing temperatures were not the best background for this one) with the hearty vocals/keyboards entry part that was yet again full of sweet nostalgia and hair-rising melodies.

It was time for Mick Box to say some words thanking everyone for coming and then he added: “Where did this time go? It’s time for a hippie song”. The moment he started strumming the acoustic guitar, it became quite clear it was time for “Lady In Black” finishing the regular part of the setlist on a high note, with loud singing-along and lots of clapping. The band said the first goodnights but no one was willingly to move from his spot, and soon enough the “HEEP, HEEPchanting brought the entire band back onstage for the two-song encore. I guess, the encore choices should not come as surprises being “Gypsy” and - of course - “Easy Livin'” but to be honest, this didn’t sound as the standard procedure because the band looked like teenagers having honest fun among some good friends. So, yes everyone sung their lungs out and agreed with Mr. Shaw’s statement: “this was so much fun, it was almost illegal” before promising that URIAH HEEP will return. Yeah, I hope this won’t take too much time to happen, and considering the number of faces inside Tailgaters, I think it will be most appropriate to have the Brits in a bigger venue next time...

URIAH HEEP setlist:

01. “Speed Of Sound”
02. “The Hanging Tree”
03. “The Law”
04. “The Outsider”
05. “Sunrise”
06. “Stealin'”
07. “The Magician's Birthday”
08. “What Kind Of God”
09. “One Minute”
10. “Can't Take That Away”
11. “July Morning”
12. “Lady In Black”
13. “Gypsy”
14. “Easy Livin'”

URIAH HEEP

Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uriah Heep @ Tailgaters (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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