Uriah Heep & Head East

Uriah Heep with Head East
River Spirit Events Center
Tulsa, Oklahoma
November 16, 2012

By Jeb Wright

Head East Set List:
Gettin’ Lucky | Get Up and Enjoy Yourself | Love Me Tonight | City of Gold/Fly By Night Lady | Raise a Little Hell | Jefftown Creek | Since You’ve Been Gone | Never Been Any Reason

Encore: Elijah

Uriah Heep Set List:
Against the Odds | Overload | Traveler in Time | Sunrise | Between Two Worlds | Stealin' | Into the Wild | Gypsy | July Morning | Lady in Black

Encore: Free 'n' Easy | Easy Livin'

Uriah Heep rolled into Tulsa, Oklahoma on the final day of their short nine day USA tour and performed with the passion and energy of a band a quarter of their age. Backstage, after the gig, bandleader Mick Box explained Heep’s live masterful performance by simply stating, “It’s what we do.”

Before Heep thrilled the crowd with their set, Head East, a Midwestern favorite, took the stage. Led by founding member and keyboardist Roger Boyd, Head East blasted a set of straight ahead meat and potatoes rock and roll for the enthusiastic, albeit sparse crowd.

Head East fans will be thrilled to know that original drummer Steve Huston joined the band on vocals, while he may have lost a beat or two on drums, and thus while he did not play drums, CRR is proud to report that he has lost nothing vocally. The band was enjoying having a second original member on stage, as witnessed by the comradely and smiles throughout the set. Also of note is the fact that Roger Boyd's brother, Larry, who was actually the band's original bass player, who left the band before they recorded Flat as a Pancake, sat in on bass the entire evening. The fans got to witness three original members of Head East on this special night.

Head East’s set was centered on their best known album Flat as a Pancake, which thrilled the fans in the audience. They performed their biggest hits from the LP including, “Love Me Tonight” and “Never Been Any Reason.” They also included album cut favorites “City of Gold,” “Fly by Night Lady” and “Jefftown Creek.” They also performed a cover of Canadian band Trooper’s “Raise a Little Hell,” which proved to be a fun tune that got the crowd on their feet. The set ended with the epic “Elijah.” Their performance was spirited, enthusiastic and they sounded great.

After a short break, which most people spent lined up at the merchandise table where Head East autographed records and photos, the lights went down and Uriah Heep took the stage.

The band immediately hooked the hardcore fans with the opening tune, the first song off of Sea of Light, “Against the Odds.” Next up was “Overload” from Wake the Sleeper. While Heep performed many classics, it was clear from the start that the set would include many songs they have not played live in recent years. Other welcome tunes included “Between Two Worlds” from Sonic Origami and “Free ‘n’ Easy” from Innocent Victim.

During the first two songs of the set vocalist Bernie Shaw realized a lead singer of a rock bands worst nightmare; his microphone did not work. The first one, a cordless mike, crapped out and when he tried to replace it with a corded mike, it didn’t work. The crew gave him another cordless but Bernie hated it and would not use it. Finally, they got the situation rectified and things went smoothly. Shaw addressed the crowd and said, “It’s only fucking rock and roll, right? There’s no need to throw a big fit. We’re not Guns & Roses!” Hats were tipped to bass player Trevor Bolder, who quickly covered for Shaw on vocals when his microphone did not work allowing the band to stay on task. The microphone fiasco did have a plus side, as keyboardist Phil Lanzon and guitarist Box took the opportunity to throw in some impromptu soloing.

The rest of the set was pure classic Uriah Heep. Putting the tunes “Traveler in Time” from the classic Demons & Wizards back-to-back with one of the best tunes on The Magician’s Birthday in “Sunrise” is a sonic delight. Both songs are powerful and bold but “Sunrise” is not only one of the best songs in Heep’s back catalog; it is one of the most powerful songs in the hard rock genre. The tune sweeps and swoons, gaining momentum, then drops off the edge of the world taking one on a trip through the musical cosmos.

Shaw is a great frontman and no more so than on “Stealin’,” another classic tune from album Sweet Freedom. The crowd sang the ‘do do’s’ as Box slammed out a solo with his left hand while his right arm made mystical gesturers.

A highlight of the show was the inclusion of the title track of Heep’s latest album, “Into the Wild.” Many bands that have been around as long as Uriah Heep have been around tend to rest on their laurels, and it shows in their new music. Not Heep, as “Into the Wild” got the same response as many of the bands older tunes. “Into the Wild” shows Heep is not interested in being the flavor of the month, or in chasing trends, rather they prefer to do what they have always done, play killer rock and roll and make the best music that they know how to make.

The main set ended with three of the band’s most loved songs. “Gypsy” blew the roof off the event center, but when it went directly into “July Morning,” perhaps Heep’s grandest epic of all, the energy coming off the stage intensified.

Box described the final song of the main set as a ‘song you would sing around the campfire.” With that, he went into “Lady in Black,” which, once again prompted another sing-a-long. Shaw played with the crowd, directing the audience participation and getting everyone on their feet. When the song ended, the band left the stage.

For the encore, Shaw and Box invited all of the pretty woman in the audience to join them onstage. About twenty of all ages, shapes and sizes took them up on the offer and danced about while the band played “Free ‘n’ Easy.” The last tune of the night was predictably “Easy Livin’,” which the band performed flawlessly.

There were a lot tunes the band did not play, and the set was a tad too short. Absent were “Magician’s Birthday,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “The Wizard” and many other Heep favorites. However, what was played blew the roof off of the place.

Uriah Heep remain a band that loves making and performing music. They are such a powerful and tight band that one leaves their show emotionally charged and sonically blitzed.

Backstage, after the show, Heep were enjoying some cold beverages and hot pizza when their tour manager informed them that there were 15 or 20 fans at the backstage area hoping to meet them. The band could have blown them off, as they had to be exhausted from the week they spent playing gigs after a grueling international flight. That was not to be the case, however, as each band member literally dropped what they were doing and excused themselves from their guests and went out to spend a half an hour with the fans, signing autographs, taking pictures and making small talk. This action proved that Uriah Heep is not only a world class band onstage; they are world class off stage as well.

Long Live Uriah Heep!