Uriah Heep

Live in Armenia

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In 2008, the venerable British hard rock band Uriah Heep released Wake the Sleeper, their first new studio album in ten years. It is not unusual, of course, for a band to play several songs from a new album in concerts around the time of release. Two years later, however, Uriah Heep are heard on this concert recording playing seven of the selections from Wake the Sleeper out of 15 songs in the show. Lead singer Bernie Shaw acknowledges that the set list is "a mixture of the old and the new," after announcing, "We've got 40 years of Uriah Heep music." So they do, even if they don't actually play songs from across the 40 years. Rather, nearly all the songs date back to the band's earliest days of the early '70s or come from Wake the Sleeper. They establish their priorities right up front by playing the first three songs, in order, from the current album to open the show. The results are predictable in the audience reaction; the new songs are tolerated, while old favorites like "Gypsy" (the first song on Uriah Heep's first album, 1970's ...Very ‘eavy, ...Very ‘umble) and "July Morning" (from 1971's Look at Yourself) elicit howls of recognition and approval. Actually, there's nothing wrong with the Wake the Sleeper material, which is very much in the style of Uriah Heep's older catalog. It's just that those songs are not as familiar, especially, it seems, in Armenia, where the new album apparently wasn't even for sale legitimately. ("Thank God for the black market," Shaw says at one point.) The Uriah Heep of 2010 are an efficient unit largely made up of veterans who have been in the band for decades. (Drummer Russell Gilbrook is a relatively newcomer who came on board in 2007, while guitarist Mick Box is the sole original member.) They play the old songs effectively and the new songs with verve. They are wise to devote the last handful of selections to the oldies (Shaw admits that the promoter suggested some of them), sending the crowd out happy, oddly enough to the strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" over the P.A.

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