London UK December 6,7,& 8 2001
Magicians Birthday Party Reviews
London. THE Heep weekend.
To the song Lady in Black.....a
new verse for John Lawton.
Well,I came down to London town.
To see Uriah Heep,
To make a little party,
With very little sleep.
When John and Steve take to the
The time it never drags,
John keeps his voice in trim,he says,
with Jack Daniels and some fags.......................Stop it!
Mr Lawton at a very crowded
Borderline,went down a storm.So I am told.I missed it I am ashamed to say but
the feedback was VERY good.
I arrived at the Hilton (Heep
festival) after the press conference but in time to have a chat with
Mick,Bernie,Phil and John before the Classic Rock Sales Awards.This was
conducted by Tommy Vance (in excellent form) and nice to see the people who
promote Heep recognised in front of fans.
After lunch came the search for the world's biggest Heep fan.A bit of fun really,hosted again by Mr Vance.This culminated in Mr Rentrop ,myself and one other.(sorry,didn't get your name) being put in front of the gathered masses,with blow up air guitars and asked to perform Stealin' like Mick Box.WELL.....the air guitarists really went for it.The crowd stood as one and cheered like it was Heep they were watching.The WHOLE room was shaking! Louis got the biggest cheer and hence won the coveted Heep jacket.The remaining sad acts got consolation prizes.I got a few compliments at the party on my prowess.One guy said I was out of tune!!
Mr Caruthers then brought the day to a close.
Long ,long queue for the Empire.
Inside,John Lawton appeared on stage and announced an addition to Heep.Stella and Trevor Hensley took to the stage.Stella looked out at 2,500 of us and just said...wow!These guys found out they were going on at 1 pm on the same day!!How's that for a stress free life?They were great...respect!(nice people too)
VERY long wait for Heep till just gone 9pm but as always...worth the wait.
Trevor striding up to his mike.
Lee and Phil settled into position.
Bernie from the right,stalking the centre stage.
One take Box,grinning like a Cheshire cat,greeted the family.(is it my imagination or is the family getting bigger?)
Return to Fantasy hit the air and the crowd roared it's approval.Similar set to York to begin with and a very up for it Uriah Heep.
I looked back at the crowd..amazing.Looked in the circle and saw Mr Caruthers with THE biggest smile on his face and I laughed.The band were delivering.
Mick tossed an imaginary ball to Lee (mid song),Lee threw it to Phil and he deposited it in an equally imaginary basket.
Logical Progression,Mistress of all Time,I'll keep on Tryin', and the mega Magicians Birthday were the high points.Mr Van Leer of Focus fame joined them on flute.Quite a presence on stage he is.When Bernie signalled Mr Hensley to join us.....well,what an occasion.
It was such a funny feeling watching Heep with Ken on stage too.
Life takes us all in different directions , we can't ever turn the clock back and the Heep now is THE Heep but I did think...Ken's come home.Albeit for a visit.The backdrop flashed up pictures throughout the gig and several times single pictures of David Byron (nice touch). It all felt good. (there were no Gary Thain pictures...would have bin even nicer touch)
John Lawton joined us.It was so great to watch him and Bernie work together.
Sympathy with Ken and Mick on guitars was a joy BUT....Free and easy was electric and so powerful. Never heard it played so fast.(neither had John,he said later)
This was such a memorable gig.
Encores done,band gone and Dave Owen appears.
Er...bit of a problem.Pip Williams in the recording truck is unhappy with 3 of the songs.(Mistress of all Time,I'll keep on tryin' and Sympathy).Is it ok If we do them again please.......ROARS of approval.
Back they came..Mr Leer again on Mistress.
Band for tryin'
and back came Ken and John for Sympathy.
3 songs done,we wait for the verdict.Thumbs up,Pips happy..........It's party time.
Everyone is at the bar for? WATER and plenty of it.
One memorable gig.Our band Delivered good style.
The party went on till 2 am with a
glam band,carol singing (new words) and general soaking up the atmosphere.
Last word on the clown (drunk clown) who was wandering through the crowd hassling people to let him through to the front (mid gig too!!).Big mistake....he approached the Scottish contingent and the hassling ceased with minimal damage incurred by clown or anyone else.He ended up on the stage at the end but the gig was finished.A roadie threw him off the stage.He's probably still there now.
Great 2nd day.Pip Williams (articulate,confident,
so into his craft and a Heep fan too) was very interesting.If you ever get the
chance to talk to him,please do.Roger Dean was up too and in different way was
fascinating to listen to also.We were interrupted by Mr Box saying they were
off to Germany and goodbye.:-)
I smiled when Pip told the crowd that Mick was the best guitarist he has worked with.Pip's no slouch on the guitar,so it was nice to hear cos Mick gets little recognition.
John Lawton and Steve Dunning on
guitar did an acoustic workshop.Songs,questions and at one stage a Heep choir
on stage too for Lady in Black. (yes...me too..I can't help it). Rain,with
Steve on bass was breathtakingly wonderful.Well done guys.
The Heep auction was masterfully conducted by Louis Rentrop (you are one funny guy ,Mr Rentrop). Bids stretched from £2 to £600.(a magicians birthday print with all band signatures with Johns and Kens too.)
The gig started with Mostly Autumn.They hardly got started.They are good and didn't have long enough.A few people said,so what? They are only the support but..I bet they were disappointed. I was disappointed for them too. See them if you can...worth it.
Atmospheric start with Ken in the
spotlight on his own on keyboard.The band joined him one by one and with a
suitable delay came John Wetton ,guitar in hand.
Ken looked relaxed,sticking his tongue out at the crowd at the front in fun.
He was suffering with his voice as he was on Friday too but he soldiered on and did not disappoint.
They played Easy Livin',One Way or Another and a few Wetton numbers that I am not familiar with.I was impressed by the 3 songs from the Running Blind cd due for release on Feb 11th. (by Ken)
Encore was lady in Black and an absolutely electric rendition of Asia's Heat of the MOment.The audience loved it too.
A good gig?.............yes.
A fantastic gig?........no.Not sure why.
Did I enjoy it?..yes ,of course. It was good to see them on stage (and the manic Dave Kilminster)
It would have been nice to see the Forum fuller.
It was good if not classic.
Mid gig,a guy collapsed on the
steps I was standing on.(drunken stupor I think) but the Heep emergency squad
(mobile unit) was ready and with some effort ,I hauled him to his feet and set
him off again.I watched as he meandered through the crowd.To where I do not
know.Hope he got home safe.
The rest of Saturday was spent in
the pub.How did I ever find my bed.God knows.
High points of the weekend?
2.Saturdays acoustic session with John and Steve.
Well,if you read my York review you'll know it was my son's first EVER rock gig and he loved it.When I got back I gave him the yellow lunch box (from the air guitar episode...runner up prize) and told him it was from Heep to say thank you for making your first gig a Heep gig.(just a little white lie)His face was a picture.He opened it..a drinking cup with T-shirt inside and 4 cds.(acoustic,re-masters,future echoes and Astoria official bootleg) He was sooo excited. I had a festival leaflet signed by Mick,Bernie and John. He's had that TOO!!!
Lunchbox is on his windowsill in pride of place and lady in Black went straight on the player with headphones.
You can never get enough Heep Dad, he said..LOL
A very complete weekend with a
truly great bunch of people from all over the world.
Ken Hensley on Saturday,thanked
Dave Owen and Bob Caruthers from the stage.I echo that,especially Bob, a
modest gentleman (Dave too ) who has been a Heep fan from the early days and
has been able to put his energy and vision into moving Heep forward again
.Bob..take a bow.
A nicer guy you will never meet.
NO SLEEP WITH
comments welcome at : email@example.com
Wow ! Last time I saw Heep and Hensley together was way back in 1979 at the City Hall in Newcastle upon Tyne. What a gig that was. A band on fire. I remember being very surprised when that line up came to an end soon afterwards , and saddened , when Ken left the band the following year. Anyway off to London on Friday. Not sure what to expect.Some pretty inconclusive publicity over the past couple of months left me wondering if this would be Acoustically Driven Two , a full Ken and Heep show or a Heep gig with Ken sitting in on a couple of numbers.What would John Lawtons role be ? What was this finale that would have Heep fans talking for years ? I couldn't wait to find out.
Venue was good. Reminded me a little of the aforementioned City Hall. The wait was awful. Nearly two hours from entering the hall to the main attraction taking to the stage. Trevor Hensley and wife were great.It was obviously a big step from the Heepvention to the Shephards Bush Empire but they carried it off with aplomb. It was touching to see them hugging post set at the back of the stage. Well done guys.It really was an enjoyable support slot.
Now for THE band. Return to Fantasy kicked in strong followed by the best version of Universal Wheels I have ever heard. An excellent Only the Young left me wondering where's Ken ? Nowhere to be seen to be honest. Thies van Leer came and went yet still Mr. Hensley was conspicious by his absence. The Hammond sat waiting but the meastro was AWOL. A couple of lesser ( but good ) Heep numbers paved the way for the reunion I had come to see. Ken arrived resplendant in white shirt and shoes and took his seat behind the keyboards.If his entrance had been somewhat subdued what followed was the most explosive version of July Morning I have ever heard. It was truely awesome and set the template for the rest of the evening.
What a joy it was to be entertained by Paradise and The Spell. I had never heard the song live before and Bernie's vocals easily matched those of the late David Byron. Magicians Birthday was staggering and Mick's sublime guitar solo had my mind drifting back to the Liverpool Stadium in May 1972 and the opening night of the Demons and Wizards Tour. Then came John. What a voice and what a double act he and Bernie make. They complemented each other perfectly as the band romped through Sympathy from the excellent Firefly album. Indeed the whole band gelled well. There was not much eye contact early on between Ken ( despite him searching ) and the rest of the band but as all parties relaxed they began to interact well and Cheshire Cat grins became the order of the day.
The pairing of Phil and Ken really worked well and left Ken free to play some blinding slide on The Spell and Circle of Hands. As the years rolled by the future became clear. Both parties really do need each other. Hensley transforms Heep from a good band into a great one and Heep gives Hensley the audience his songs deserve. And on it went, Easy Livin' and Free and Easy really rocked the place, and Lady in Black was a fitting finale with Ken , John and Bernie each singing a verse. The evening concluded with Ken and Lee sharing a joyous embrace as all parties joined in to sing a spirited version of Land of Hope and Glory.
Three songs were re recorded which was a bonus for the fans and then back to sleepy Worcestershire. Oh I forgot to mention Trevor. His bass playing was outstanding throughout and together with Lee's drumming provided the perfect foundation for a superb evening. Who knows what the future holds but she would not think of battle that reduces men to animals so easy to begin yet impossible to end for she's the mother of our men who counselled me so wisely then I feared to walk alone again and asked if she would stay............................
Hello fellow Heepsters!
Got back home to Finland from London today having spend 3 unbelievable days and nights in London at MBP! I'm not gonna write a huge report as I'm quite tired having close to no sleep last night except a little naps at Airport bus and plane.
Thursday nights gig was John Lawton Band at Borderline. Bunch of Heepsters got together at Royal George pub before and after the gig. I didn't write down the setlist so someone else hopefully posts that. During the set Trevor and Stella Hensley did a couple of numbers and Ken joined for 3 songs, singing the lead for Lady In Black!
Heep Festival started on Friday at Kensington Hilton Hotel. At the press call there were all of the band (except Lee who was late thanks to British rail or something like that), Ken Hensley and John Wetton. Of course there was chance to get autographs. Lee came just in for the autograph session. In the afternoon there was a Biggest Heep Fan competition. It was very very tight and and finally the three runner ups Louis Rentrop, Tapio Minkkinen and a third guy whose name I don't remember (sorry) who answered all 30 questions had the last hard task in front of them: air guitar competition (Stealin')! This again was extremely tight and finally crowd chose Louis to be the winner. Prize was a nice jacket. I hope someone will post a picture on a web site soon.
Shepherd's Bush Empire is just a walking distance from Kensington Hilton. Heepsters got together at O'Neils pub next door to Empire to get ready for the evenings show full of surprises. There was magic in the air as Ken was going to join Heep on stage. As a supporting act Trevor and Stella Hensley got a call only 4 hours notice. They did a great acoustic set. Heep came on stage and kicked the shoff with Return To Fantasy followed by some usual stuff. Then the surprises of the evening started to happen: Tales!! with Thijs van Leer from Focus on flute. He sure is a great player. Later on the set he joined Heep on Misstress of All Times. After I'll Keep On Trying Ken Hensley joined and now we had 6-member Heep on stage with double keyboards! Heep continued with July Morning, Paradise/Spell & Circle of Hands in which Ken played slide guitar in the end. Then what we all had been waiting for. Magician's Birthday!!! Mick's solo with Lee was awesome! John Lawton joined in laiter with Sympathy. After the show was over Heep had to redo 3 numbers due to some problems as the gig was recorded for DVD. Here's the setlist:
Uriah Heep, Shepherd's Bush Empire, Dec 7, 2001
Return To Fantasy Universal Wheels Only The Young Stealin' Tales * Sweet Pretender Between Two Worlds I Hear Voices Logical Progression Misstres Of All Times * I'll Keep On Trying July Morning ** Paradise/The Spell ** Circle Of Hands ** The Magician's Birthday ** *** Sympathy ** *** Easy Livin' **
Encore 1: Sunrise ** Free And Easy ** ***
Encore 2: Lady In Black * ** ***
* w/ Thijs van Leer on flute ** w/ Ken Hensley *** w/ John Lawton
That was a Heepsters heaven but what was to follow the next day ....
Missed the beginning of Heep Festival being a little sleepy in the morning and got to Hilton in the middle of Roger Dean session. After the autograph session there was an acoustic workshop by John Lawton and Steve Dunning (John's bass player). That was a lot of fun.In the end they played Lady In Black and some Heepsters including joined them on stage for backing vocals. Tapio Minkkinen made a debut of his singing career getting on stage and singing a couple of first verses of Finnish version! After workshop there was a Heep auction of different memorabilia including a Fender Squier Stratocaster signed by all Heep members and Ken Hensley, John Lawton and John Wetton. This went to Muzzy for $300. Also there was a t-shirt auction from Mick's personal collection.
Last night's concert was Ken Hensley & John Wetton at Kentish Town Forum. Doors were supposed to be opened at 6 (have to finish by 10) but they opened them little later than 6.30 which turned to be a big bummer since support act Mostly Autumn had to shorten their set. This is really a great band and deserved to have more time on stage. At about 8 Ken came on stage and started the set with a short piano improvisation leading to Hammond improvisation during which the band came on stage(w/out John Wetton) and they kicked into Easy Livin' Ken handling the vocals. I can't really find words to tell but Ken was so into it 110% with full of emotion! It looked that this moment meant so much to him. He was singing almost in tears. At the end of EL Ken called Mr. John Wetton in and they kicked into one of my favorite tunes of Wetton era, One Way Or Another John handling the vocals! It was Heepsters heaven again. After that they did some Heep numbers followed by John's stuff and songs from Running Blind. John played guitar in the main set and switched to bass on encores (double bass) Here's the setlist:
Ken Hensley & John Wetton, Kentish Town Forum, London, Dec 8, 2001
Easy Livin' One Way Or Another Return To Fantasy -> July Morning Wetton song Confession Wetton song Wetton song Wetton song The Wizard I Don't Wanna Wait Running Blind song Ken's slide guitar solo-> Tell Me (?)
Encore: Lady In Black Heat Of The Moment
Downside of Forum was their security & bouncers. I haven't seen anywhere so aggressive security and bouncers (even in Tavastia Club in Helsinki) than in Forum. They were aggressively spotting cameras and confiscating them and "kicking people around". The night before at Heep gig in Empire Dave Owen made a kind request of no flash photography as the gig was going to be taped for DVD and everything was cool and discreet.
Alright, it was great time in London, seeing 3 great shows, 2 day festival and meeting old Heep friends from around the world and also meeting new ones. Thanks to everyone for the great time! I hope to see more reviews soon once people get out of London to their computers :-)