Uriah Heep's Box of surprises
Venue: Riverside, Newcastle
Midway through their fifth decade, Uriah Heep seemlessly blend the new with the old
Three years off his 70th birthday and by rights Mick Box should be picking up his pension, tending to the daffodils and enjoying the remarkable rise of Harry Kane at his beloved White Hart Lane. However, the Walthamstow lad with the wizard-like hair and magical touch would rather cast his rock'n'roll spell over the world than succumb to the curse of advancing years.
“Where’s the time gone?,” he asks midway through a sparkling set as if genuinely shocked that 45 years have flow by since the release of debut album …Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble. It’s a mere 42 years since Stealin’ took the US by storm and Box’s solo on the lead single from Sweet Freedom is stunning.
Bernie Shaw is a spring chicken by comparison to Box, and the canny Canadian rocks the Riverside with an energy that puts frontmen half his age to shame. Ironically, given the song’s title, the muddy mix that ushers in opener Speed Of Sound does Heep’s singer no favours but the false start is soon forgotten as he soars on new songs The Law and Outsider. What sets Shaw apart from the new breed of rock and roll shoegazer is his sheer delight in engaging with an audience. “It doesn’t smell like fish in here,” he sniffs as Heep enjoy their debut inside the quayside’s former fish market. “By the way,” he adds, after extolling the virtues of vinyl, “Mick’s got a huge one… record collection, that is.” It’s clichéd, harmless, Heep-style fun.
All photos: John Burrows