Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n, Gothenburg (SWE)


Date: 18th September, 2011
Venue: Trädgår’n
Ticket: 290SEK (€30)
Promoter: Live Nation
Photos: the rainbow demon Erika

Even if my ultimate fanatic URIAH HEEP moment hit me when I finished reading the book that celebrated David Byron’s life, it was crystal clear that it would happen again since that night would be truly special the second I had entered the venue. It was almost possible to touch the anticipation hanging in the air. And the crowd, compared to the majority of past events I’ve been to at Trädgår’n was, well, let’s say wiser than usual.

Exactly at 8pm URIAH HEEP hit the stage and I guess the support could have been a bit stronger. Sure, it was Sunday, still early though, so I really expected more from the crowd. Also, even if I don’t want to put everyone in the same level and there were at least some nostalgic persons present but I think the setlist opener, “I’m Ready” from the recent “Into The Wild”, might also had something to do with the response.

The following “Return To Fantasy” got a warmer welcome. But, URIAH HEEP delivered right from the start. That isn’t very unusual when we’re talking about URIAH HEEP, who are really considered as one of the great live-bands ever. Of course, it is not uncommon for these 70’s bands to deliver when they’re onstage but compared to many others URIAH HEEP has consistently released great albums too. “Stealin´” and “Rainbow Demon” followed with the same grace. “Money Talk” and “Nail On The Head” worked really well live. None of them are my favorites from “Into The Wild” but with the URIAH HEEP live energy added to the songs, they felt both more dynamic and driven compared to the record. A drum solo in the middle of the two filled a few minutes and Russell Gilbrook is a mighty fine drummer, I still miss Lee Kerslake a little though but Russell did a good job and a tasteful solo, long enough to be able to show off but still not getting boring. This is when I was a little bugged by the crowd, some people around me looked so bored, nagging about URIAH HEEP not playing the hits. Even if I love the old songs, the coolest thing I’ve ever seen was when they hit the stage at ‘Sweden Rock Festival’ a couple of years ago and played “Wake The Sleeper” in its entirety. So, I would absolutely have seen more new material, it’s quite a shame to leave out “Sea Of Light” and “Sonic Origami”.

But four new songs is a good addition and the last one from “Into The Wild” was the amazing title track. And this one seems to have gone down rather well with both new and old fans with its dark and organ driven riff and faithful vocals. The rest of the set was rather predictable, for good and bad. One thing is for sure; it would be very strange to see URIAH HEEP onstage without “Gypsy”, “The Wizard” and “Lady In Black”. But the downside with this (and that’s nothing bad really) is that URIAH HEEP mainly served the old hits. For me, that was just another doze of anguish for not going to any of the ‘Magician’s Birthday Parties’ where they’ve played a lot of odd material as well. And then again, when they played “July Morning”, the verse was phenomenal, the passion and agony in the lyrics and the way the song was performed, which goes equally well for Bernie Shaw as it did with Byron, is a trademark for URIAH HEEP. But the best part was when they took it up a bit and started jamming, I was so happy I almost started to cry. What really amazes me is that URIAH HEEP can bring out this joy of playing year after year and they’ve been doing this for 40 years now.

Routine is one thing, but that absolutely didn’t feel like another day at work. The solo in the end could really have gone on forever; Mick looked like he was just chasing his fingers over the fretboard. The solo ended with a sharp look from Bernie and Mick blowing out the fire (blowing on his fingers like blowing out a candle) and the solo ended. This was the only out of many small tricks going on throughout the show. Very charming!

For “Free & Easy” Mick Box approached the microphone stating that this specific song was tapped as the first Heavy Metal song. He invited all girls up onstage to help out with the headbanging and after the girls had climbed onstage, a few guys where invited as well. This is a rather unusual move for a band of this caliber but quite fun to watch at the same time. Especially since a few of the guys looked like they were going to pass out, or at least start to cry as they stood upon the stage. There was more than one I love you Mick followed by hugs and kisses when the song was over and the crowd had to move back to their position. The almost two hour set ended with “Bird Of Prey” and “Easy Livin´”; it’s fascinating that a song like “Bird Of Prey” has become as big as it has while it’s not as easy going and sing-a-long friendly as most of the other hits. At that point Bernie Shaw was soaked wet and Mick looked rather unbothered hardly even sweaty but with a huge grin on his face.

Even if the set was rather predictable this was an amazing concert. There are not many bands that can match URIAH HEEP’s passion and drive when it comes to playing live; the way the organ matches the guitar, the guitar co-operates with the vocals and the rhythm section backs it up. This performance really showed that URIAH HEEP still have a lot to give and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I’ll write the same report in about ten years. But of course, I really hope URIAH HEEP makes it back to Sweden several times before that. I don’t mind having them over once a year or so.

URIAH HEEP setlist:

01. “I’m Ready”
02. “Return To Fantasy”
03. “Stealin’”
04. “Rainbow Demon”
05. “Money Talk”
06.  Drum Solo
07. “Nail On The Head”
08. “The Wizard”
09. “Into The Wild”
10. “Gypsy”
11. “Look At Yourself”
12. “July Morning”
13. “Lady In Black”
14. “Free & Easy”
15. “Bird Of Prey”
16. “Easy Livin’”


Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg)
Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg) Uriah Heep @ Tradgar’n (SWE) (photos by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)