Uriah Heep Magician's Birthday Weekend

Uriah Heep – Shepherd’s Bush 7 Dec 2001

Shepherd’s’ Bush Empire was the lovely setting for Ken Hensley’s return appearance
with Uriah Heep. This billed as his big goodbye to the fans. It was also quite
ironic as it was about a year after Lee Kerslake stated in a national magazine
that he had never forgiven Hensley for his skulduggery and he never would.

Also making guest appearances were Flautist Thijs van Leer of Focus fame and
former Heep vocalist John Lawton.

The warm-up act tonight were Stella and Trevor Hensley. Trevor played a guitar
and sang one song. Stella sang the others. They were Ok but very mild, not really
to my taste at all.

The Crowd were very international tonight. This gig was the highlight of a
Heep festival weekend. It had started with the John Lawton band on the Thursday
night and ended with John Wetton and Ken Hensley playing on the Saturday. A
lot of the international fans had done all three gigs but some had flown in
just for tonight’s show only.

The show was being recorded for DVD and CD release one of the camera crew told
me he had footage of tickets being sold outside the Empire for £100.

At 9pm Uriah Heep took to the stage with an Intro tape and then “Return To
Fantasy”. They then proceeded to delight the fan base with a set of old and
new.

I couldn’t help but marvel at how much Bernie Shaw enjoys performing. His face
is just so alive and delighted throughout the show.

Mick box also looked happy but due to the coming and going of guests I didn’t
really get round to observing the others in the band.

I was also distracted a lot at the start of the set as some drunk came pushing
down to the front and proceeded to annoy everyone in the vicinity for a few
songs. He finally disappeared only to return near the end. This time people
got really ratty with them and one kind soul managed to escort him out of the
crowd. I later spotted him being kicked off the stage as they were breaking
the equipment down. He wasn’t the only troublemaker either. Some more short
guys came pushing in then waved their arms about and tried to say "I’m
here" to the musicians. What kind of egos do these people have?

The lights tonight were strangely not as good as York.
Fairly basic stuff actually. There was a back projection of photos but these
didn’t show up that well on the white backdrop curtain. They used the same effect
on the "Acoustically Driven" DVD and I didn’t feel it worked that
well then. I would much rather have seen the York lighting again. In the press
conference there had been a comment about the lighting people for the York gig
not turning up on the night so presumably the lights could have been even better.
I wonder if the cameras would have had more difficulty with that set up? It
seemed a shame anyway.

“Universal Wheels” was next and three backing singers appeared for this. I
suspect they were the same as on the Acoustically Driven DVD recording but I
only recognised 1 maybe 2 of them.

“Only the young” was next followed by “Stealin’” and “Tales”. This was the
first appearance of Thijs on Flute. He looked really eccentric. I hadn’t picked
up on who he was at the gig but when I did and I confirmed he was from Focus
in the early 70’s I was still surprised the he was the yodelling organ player
from clips of Hocus Pocus on Whistle Test.

“Sweet Pretender” was next and then “Between Two Worlds”, “I hear Voices” and
“Logical Progression”.

“Mistress of All Time” again featured Thijs on Flute and this was followed
by “I’ll keep on trying”.

Then it was the time so many fans had been waiting for. Ken Hensley took to
the stage and sat at his keyboards for “July Morning”. Phil Lanzon also sat
during this one to my surprise.

This was followed by “Paradise”, “The spell” and “Circle Of Hands”. Then it
was the song after which the night was named, “The Magician’s Birthday”. This
was full length and complete with Mick Box’s guitar solo in the middle. I after
this section I was then caught off guard when John Lawton came on stage and
sang instead of Bernie Shaw. They were soon swapping lines together though.
In fact they really seemed to get on well with each other and were often singing
face to face.

“Sympathy” was next. This seemed to prove tricky. Ken was on Slide guitar but
it was effectively a twin guitar piece and I wasn’t convinced he and Mick were
getting in sync properly. I don’t know the piece so perhaps I am just not used
to it.

“Easy Livin’” finished the main set and “Sunrise” and “Free’N’Easy” made up
the first encore. John Lawton again singing a good a lot of the lines.

The final encore started with an acoustic solo from Mick Box (I think) but
then Ken Hensley came on with a 12string acoustic to start “Lady In Black”.
Ken sang the first verse of this and then John Lawton took the next verse. Bernie
took the next verse and then Thijs also joined in on flute. This is standard
ending to a Heep set complete with Bernie’s sung "give me a little bit
more"’s but this was a nice variation.

I enjoyed the whole night tremendously even though I was an absolute wreck
and I am very much a modern Heep fan. The whole crowd were in ecstasy from start
to finish. There is no doubt it was a truly special night and there were vague
promises to try and match it the same time next year.

I have recently expressed concern that Heep are spending too much time recording
live DVD’s and albums and not getting on with something new but I have no doubts
tonight’s project was a valid project and I am sure it will be a great release
when it comes out next year. There is no doubt it is what the fan base wanted
and I expect it will attract a lot of old time fans to the current band.

Mostly Autumn/Ken Hensley And John Wetton – The Forum
Kentish Town London – 8 December 2001

I had no expectations at all for this gig the main reason I was there was because
I had a pass and I was able to get there as my girlfriend drove me. I had wanted
to get to the press conferences during the day but I was too much of a wreck
from the day before.

The support act was Mostly Autumn and since my girlfriend and I are big fans
of them that is why we made the effort. They went on stage at 6.45 sharp (I
assume) and sadly we didn’t make it to the venue until about 6.55. They were
playing “Spirit Of Autumn Past” as we arrived but by the time I had my camera
taken off me they were onto “Evergreen”.

Then they did “Out Of The Inn” and then it was time to end on “Heroes”. There
was confussion as to weather there was time for another song but in the end
it was decided there wasn’t. It’s a good job that I knew in advance that it
was a short set and that I might not make the start in time.

For the main set I managed to use my contacts and disability to get us in the
circle, which was officially closed. This is a relief I am not sure I would
have handled staying for the main set if I had had to stand.

Before we had meet my girlfriend and I had seen John Wetton doing a 3 song
acoustic set and neither of us had enjoyed. We therefore were not expecting
to enjoy things. It has to be said however John Wetton was the star of the night
for us. We really enjoyed his songs. The whole evening in fact turned out to
be highly enjoyable and we were pleased we stayed.

Ken Hensley came on solo and played a minor life, which was a Piano piece with
chord backing.

Then John Young on Keyboards, Andy Pyle on Bass, Dave Kilminster on guitar
and Steve Christey on drums come on and the crowd quickly recognised “Easy Living”
despite it taking me until Ken started the vocals to realise what it was.

Dave Kilminster is a very different player to Mick Box of Uriah Heep so I found
it quite odd listening to the arrangements. I would say Dave has been influenced
by the likes of Steve Vai or Steve Morse. He struck me as less melodic and perhaps
more Metallic in style. I liked Hensley’s Organ and the Keyboard parts. Ken
Hensley had a cold so I am not sure if this was a fair representation of his
voice. Hopefully it will sound OK on the DVD and live CD of the night.

When playing Ken still rocks his Organ.

Ken introduced John Wetton and he came on and sang “One Way Or Another”. I
think he was on Guitar as well but it could be that he was on bass. Certainly
Ken was also on back vocals and Lead Guitar too.

Next was “Return to Fantasy” with John singing again. As a fan of modern Heep
I found it interesting to here someone other than Bernie Shaw singing and Mick
Box doing the solo. The keyboard backing seemed much the same.

Ken then sang “July Morning”. John Wetton didn’t appear to take any leads solos
so I guess he must have been a rhythm guitar most of the night

John Wetton switched to Acoustic guitar and then sung “Battle Lines”. We both
thought this very good

Next up was “Confessions”. This starts with Ken solo on the piano. Then he
is joined by everyone except Bass and drums. Dave had switched to acoustic guitar
though. John Wetton was also on acoustic guitar still.

John Wetton then did “Emma” as a duo with John Young on keyboards. Ken sat
at his keyboard but just had a smoke. Dave eventually joined on acoustic guitar
and was very good.

“Hold me now” was next and everyone was back stage. John Wetton was now guitarless.
Dave seemed confused over which guitar he was due on next. This song started
as ballad with just the two John’s but built up into a classic power ending.
I wonder what the audience were here for tonight. I am not sure it is the sort
of thing a Heep only audience would go for but it was well received and a favourite
of mine in the night.

"After all" was next and this was another keyboard vocal start. Then
everyone joined in including Ken on the Hammond. The backing vocals on this
were good.

Ken at this point said how pleased with the weekend he was but that he had
a cold and was worried about his singing. He then sung "The Wizard".
John Young moved to Ken’s keyboard set on the right for this and John Wetton
moved to John Young’s keyboards on the left. Ken was on Electric guitar.

Next up was "I don’t want to wait" from Kens new album. Dave Kilminster
was on acoustic for this. John Wetton did a keyboard break in this one.

Everyone reverted back to the normal instruments for "Out of my control"
again from "Running blind"

The set finished with "Tell Me" which started with a slide solo.
This very much reminded me Ken had been in Blackfoot. I must admit it had me
wishing he had chosen to do a Blackfoot song but I guess not many remember that
period especially in England.

For the encore John Wetton played bass and Ken was on 12-string acoustic. Just
like Heep Ken chose “Black Lady” for his final number. After the first verse
the song went heavy with the full band joining in. It was really weird for me
to hear it without Bernie Shaw singing it. The end section with the crowd being
encouraged to sing along seemed really flat because I was missing Bernie’s adlibs.
I am not knocking this performance it was just different to the way I normally
hear it and I need more listens to adjust. Ken sung this one through out.

“Heat of the moment” was the final song of the night and Wetton naturally sang
being an Asia song it.

All in all the night was a pleasant surprise to me. It wasn’t as good as Heep
the night before but I am sure the fan base loved it.

It was really strange sitting upstairs all alone. The was a half wall behind
us and we were getting echoes of shouts and people talking from behind us even
though no one was there. It was such as strong effect we stood up and looked
over the wall a couple of times. We had a good view from up in the Circle it
is a shame it is always closed when I go there especially as I have trouble
standing for more than a couple of minutes.

 

Mostly Autumn – The Junction, Cambridge – 21 November 2001

Mostly Autumn – The Junction, Cambridge – 21 November 2001

This was only my 2nd gig at the Junction and I was expecting it to be completely
standing. So when I got in and found they had some seating banks I was surprised.

For those that don’t know the Junction is a Diamond shaped converted warehouse
with the stage across one of the corners. As a completely standing venue I believe
it holds 800. Tonight it seem to have in the region of 200 but it was the first
time Mostly Autumn had played the area and even Fish only had 400-500.

To my surprise as I was waiting for the door to open I saw John Sloman walking
in across the car park guitar in hand. He had been support for Karnataka and
he was support again tonight. Apparently this was the first time he had supported
Mostly Autumn on this tour.

Before the show I saw Bryan and Liam in the bar so had I had a chat with them.
Bryan doesn’t really consider the Lord Of The Rings album to be the 4th album.
It more likes a third and 1/2 mini album. I don’t know how long it will be but
Bryan said it was a bit shorter than normal. It had literally been recorded
in the fortnight before the current tour and he was quite pleased with it. There
was some different stuff on it and I think he said it was a bit mellower in
keeping with the subject matter. The song that opened the gig was from it and
that in fact seemed a bit heavier so I could be well be wrong.

At 8pm John Sloman went on stage and I made a dash to go and watch him. He
played a lot longer this time and I only registered having heard one of the
tracks before. He disappeared a few songs into the Mostly Autumn set so I didn’t
get chance to have a word with him. Over the longer length of time, and really
wanting Mostly Autumn on, I found the set a bit too samey this time. There is
obviously only some many styles a solo voice and guitar can cover. I still feel
he might be worth checking out on an album. He has a very good voice and his
lyrics seem very intense. He seems to have a strong anti war or gun sentiment.
I would like to find out more if I get chance. As some one else commented he
does seem very shy on stage but then who wouldn’t be completely alone on stage
with an unknown audience. The crowd that were in the hall at the time, probably
60%, were supportive but all kept to the seating. There were occasionally latecomers
that came and stood near the seats during the 45 min set. I was amused when
John said at the end "Thanks for rushing the stage".

At 9pm it was time for the main even and the men from Mostly Autumn came on
stage and gave us The Return Of The King (I think) – This has a really unusual
feel. It didn’t seem like Mostly Autumn. The Hey, dah dah dah reminds me of
another song and I later found myself singing "Hey Boy Blue is back"
from ELO’s Eldorado album but I don’t think that is what is sounded like overall.
Perhaps it is a Pink Floyd song. Bryan certainly sounded like Gilmour to me. 
There were also some Hawkwind sounding keyboards at the end. It was very interesting.
I look forward to hearing it in comfort.

Angie and Heather then came on stage and we got Nowhere To Hide. This was a
rather slow version. I don’t know if it was deliberate but I felt a bit unsure
about things at this point.

Next up was “The Spirit Of Autumn Past”, which I think is probably my favourite
studio track. Again it seemed slow and I wondered if someone had dropped me
a speed tablet or something. I wasn’t the only one noticing it was slow so presumably
it wasn’t just me wanting things to speed up a bit.

Heather as usual took up the Acoustic guitar on this one and on the next track
too.

Thankfully from this point onwards the tempos seemed correct and I was 100%
in my element.

“The Last Climb” was next and this was the first time I put the name of the
track to the song. I remember Bryan saying he liked this one and I appreciated
why tonight. It is a slow gentle track that builds up and up. Very nice. Since
this is a first album track and it now has a lot of flute in it I guess I now
understand why I don’t miss the Violin as much as I would expect with the current
line up.

Tonight I was again determined to pay less attention to Bryan and Heather and
more to the rest of the band. I am still trying to hear exactly what Liam’s
role is in the band but I just can’t concentrate long enough. Almost immediately
I am back on Heather or Bryan.

The next track was a jig I am pretty hopeless at spotting these but I have
now written phrasings down in my Psion and I am reasonably sure it was “Which
Wood?” Angela certainly got a mention at the end of it, which would seem to
confirm it.

The crowd by the way were at the stage by now although of course it was very
spaced. I was also interested to see how triangular shaped they stood. It was
they went very deep at the centre but from my view it looked very thin.

“Winter mountain” had a mini bass solo at start. It struck me this could easily
handle another 30 seconds or so just to make it stand out a bit more and give
Andy a work out without boring anyone.

To end the set I was surprised to find we had “Evergreen”. I was surprised
the set was in two halves as it was but I figured it probably allowed more songs
with big guitar endings. I have to say this was by far my favourite of the night
so far. It was at this point I was starting to notice difference in the live
performances to those on “The Story So Far”. Heather has adding extra vocals
in the guitar ending for instance.

At 10pm the band returned to the stage with “The Night Sky”. Heather was being
the Eagle in this one even when she was standing back from the microphone. I
can’t recall seeing this before but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was normal.

It was good to see I was not the only headbanger in this crowd by this time.
Heather commented we were a timid audience but I think everyone fully enjoyed
the show. I heard a couple of people say it was rather loud but I have to confess I
was rather stunned by the comment. I must be going deaf.

“The Dark Before The Dawn” from the 3rd album was next. I really enjoy this
one even though it is not an obvious favourite to me. I find Angela’s Flute
line so addictive and like the Who type backing from Iain on Keyboards. I do
wish Bryan or Heather would scream as the guitar solo kicks in. I really miss
that.

Liam gave us a very unconvincing "Let’s go mental" at the start of
the next jig which had the big guitar in it from Bryan so I assume was “Out
Of The Inn”. I am pretty sure this was the only jig in the main film of “The
Story so far” so this would make sense.

“Shrinking Violet” was next and along with “Evergreen” was the highlight of
the set for me. I am baffled as to why these work so well for me live but I
am not complaining.

By this point I had noticed Angie was occasionally singing using Iain’s Microphone
and I think she had her keyboard set up behind his rig.

I think there was another jig next but I could be wrong

“Never The Rainbow” was after this and had a longer solo section from Bryan
tonight. This amazingly is my ten year old daughters favourite Mostly Autumn
track. I have to say I enjoy it’s out and out nature but I find I prefer the
subtle nature of the other tracks more.

Next were Shindig and the never recorded Jig that always follows it "Haste
To The Wedding".

“Heroes” ended main set nicely

The encore was “Mother Nature”. It was still missing the thunder. Surely Angie
on the 2nd keyboard could trigger it? She didn’t look to busy in that section.
I figured Iain needed the time around then to set up the sounds for the next
section.

All in all a great night out. I look forward to seeing them again on Saturday.
Shame it will only be a short set. Still I like Uriah Heep too.

Mostly Autumn/Uriah Heep – York Opera House – 24 Nov 2001

I got to the venue with plenty of time to spare and I was able to check out
the view from the upper levels. The Opera house is a really nice well-decorated
building. It has three floors and they are angled so you get a perfect view
of the stage without the people in front of you getting in the way.

The set for Mostly Autumn was completely reshuffled tonight and obviously it
was a lot shorter than Cambridge but I was still delighted to get 75 minutes.
I had only been expecting 45 minutes at most since they were in a support slot.

Mostly Autumn took to the stage at 7.45 and again the lads opened up with “Return
Of The King”. I am pretty sure someone told me Heather sings on the CD version
of this. Oh and Bryan’s version of the “Lord of the Rings” album being short
is still 52minutes plus!

“Never The Rainbow” came next and this hit the spot nicely. This got the band
fired up and got me into the swing of things so much better than Cambridge.
Liam disappeared for this one. And Heather of course took to the stage. There
were also three backing singers tucked away at the back. I only recognised one
of them from the DVD.

“Nowhere To Hide”, which is curiously called “Close My Eyes” on the set list,
was next and this was Angie’s first appearance. Liam was on Acoustic guitar
for this.

“Spirit Of Autumn Past” was the correct speed and very enjoyable as usual.
Heather was on Liam’s acoustic and she also gave a bit of an intro about the
song, which was unusual. The Spotlight on the audience got turned on for this
one.

This was followed by “Evergreen”. Heather had a single yellow light on her
for this one. I noticed it on most songs after but I found it quite striking
on this. Angie was using Iain’s mic at the back for her backing vocals on this
one. We now had the full light rig in use including 4 vari-lites pointing at
a circular screen.

Next was the only jig of the night "Out Of The Inn". The first half
of the song is played by only Liam, Iain and the girls. Then midway through
all the boys take over and Bryan gives it some welly. Liam didn’t "Let’s
go mental at all tonight".

The backing singers returned for “Shrinking Violet”. Heather and Angie both
played recorders in this and Bryan was on Acoustic. Again Heather gave a fuller
than normal intro to the song. There was also a very fleeting appearance from
a little girl in the musicbox ending to the song. I don’t recall that section
being played at Cambridge.

“Heroes Never Die” was excellent as usual and I noticed it seemed to go down
particularly well with the audience.

“Dark Before The Dawn” was next and the four vari-lites were now being used
to display a pattern on the circular backing screen.

Heather again gave another intro and we ended the show on “Mother Nature”.
Bryan and Liam both start on acoustic guitars on this. Liam then switches and
a minute or two after so does Bryan. I also noticed a one point Liam seems to
sing a backing line completely solo. The CD version doesn’t really have a big
ending on guitar but tonight’s version definitely did. Since this is the final
piece I feel this is the best arrangement.

The whole set worked twice as good as Cambridge for me. Having “Never The Rainbow”
at the start helped get things in the mood. I didn’t really have favourite of
the night. The whole Show was fantastic. Probably my gig of the year without
Uriah Heep playing after. I can’t imagine Heep beating Autumn for me. Wow.

Mmm I am not sure what I can write about Heep. Normally I enjoy them a lot.
I think I enjoyed them again tonight but fatigue definitely took over and I
probably get 7 out 10 pleasure from their tracks where as I get 9-10 out of
Mostly Autumn’s.

I was very pleased to see the set had been revamped. I have to confess I am
a little concerned at the lack of new material. They have made so many DVD’s
lately I am concerned they are spending to long on their past.

The lighting was very lively with everything in use almost from the bands first
appearance. There was a lot more dry ice used I think too. The only thing held
back on was the Patterns on the circle screen.

Bernie Shaw introduced a couple of songs as being new. I thought he meant brand
new. I certainly didn’t recognise what might have been “Sweet Pretender”. But
Logical Progression I did so I am not sure now.

There were a couple of new songs to me that were clearly very old. It came
across in an older style and in fact the sections in them seemed very early
70’s experimental prog rock in nature. I am not sure I liked them but the crowd
were a lot more knowledgeable and loved them and were delighted to hear them.

They particularly enjoyed Magician’s Birthday, which was about 18 minutes long
with a lengthy solo spot in the middle from Mick Box.

When the band came on stage some dedicated fans stood up and a handful of others
followed suit, the rest of the crowd were unsure. Bernie told them to stand-up
but they ignored him. At the end of the first song though he got an 80% reaction
and then a few songs later he got it up to 95%. Bad news for me. I was already
a wreck from Mostly Autumn the last thing I needed was to waste more energy
standing. Still I tried it but I felt like I was going through the motions and
it did make the 1hr 50 set pure endurance for me.

It was an excellent performance and the band all love performing. Bernie and
Mick Box in particular both seemed to smile most of the night.

I look forward to the Magicians party in 10 days or so with a fresh body. I
expect I will enjoy it far more.

The set was something like

Fantasy, Universal Wheels, Only the young, Stealing, Sweet Pretender?, Between
2 worlds, I hear voices, some thing old I guess from the crowd reaction, Logical
progression, Sunrise, Magician’s birthday, Gypsy queen, July Morning, Look at
yourself

Encore

Bird of Prey, Easy living

Encore 2

Black Lady

Arjen Lucassen and Erik Norlander Video Clip

Here is a video clip of Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen’s first Live appearance in 7 seven years. It was taken at the Alfa Centuria Festival at Theatre ‘t Spant, Bussum, NL on 28 April 2001. A full review and pics of which are avaiable Here.

Obviously video takes a lot of space I have therefore decided to give you the
last 2mins 43 of the Dream Sequencer performance from the gig. Arjen is playing
with Erik Norlander but as you can see from my position he was next to impossible
to see.

I also have choose my quality levels carefully. The smallest Mpeg I could make
was still 7mb which is to risky on my site stats. I therefore made it high quality
Real Audio.

This won’t buffer up very well as it is designed for an Dual ISDN connection.
I therefore suggest you save the video to your disc and then run it offline.

To do this most browsers will allow you to right click on the following link
and one of the options listed will hopefully be something like Save Target/Link
As.

For a Real Audio Player go to the Real Audio
Site.

Any problems e-mail me and I will try to help you out.

OK here is the click. Good luck!

Sorry this has been lost in one of the moves of my website 🙁 – Dream Sequencer Live
at Alfa Centuri (1.7mb)