Everyone looks forward to a Friday, but this particular one was special in fact it was an occasion that judging by the amount of people present was a Friday that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Not only was the mighty Uriah Heep in town but support act Diamond Head were there to push it through the stratosphere.
Diamond Head a band that I have managed to catch 3 times in the last Month, are touring relentlessly at the moment promoting their latest and highly enjoyable “THE COFFIN TRAIN” album.
Tonight was slightly different with their time slot allocated to roughly 30 minutes, the emphasis was most definitely on the older classic which pleased the middle aged crowd that were here for the head liners. Brian Tatler the man with the riffs, dressed in black is hunched over his guitar working tirelessly while vocalist, Rasmus Bom Anderson is the manic front man working the crowd and hitting every note without missing a skip.
The songs of Diamond Head are etched in in the landscape of the N.W.O.B.H.M movement, from the melodic slowed down pace of “In The Heat Of The Night” to the crowd clap along of “Shoot Out The Lights” with the crowd more than happy to join in singing the words and generally having a great time.
“Its Electric” gets Tatler swaying to the tempo and peeling off riff after riff while “Karl Wilcox” thunders along on his drums proving to be the engine room for this fine band. No “Diamond Head” show would be complete without the double whammy of “Helpless” and the classic “Am I Evil” songs so important and inspiring that one of the biggest metal bands on the planet ( Metallica ) have felt the need to both record the material, play the material in concert and also take the group on tour with them.
Diamond Head have tonight once again proved to me, no matter what stage they play on they always deliver the goods. Such a perfect appetiser for the main act.
When the UK heavy blues /rock outfits of 50 years ago first broke through into the mainstream, the first bands that spring to mind are, Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath, but for some strange reason the importance of Uriah Heep has unfairly in my opinion been pushed under the carpet, this classic British rock outfit have amassed a huge plethora of studio albums and were a pioneering band behind the old Iron Curtain.
So, to have this legendary outfit playing in Bexhill is a honour for us that know the groups history and more importantly it’s a lesson for those present who are Uriah Heep virgins to watch and listen to one of the greats of the last 5 decades.
Such is the style of the band they could have turned up with a few amps and some lights and put on a show, but total respect because the guys turned up with the full works, and after a intro which involved drummer Russell Gilbrook hitting a sledge hammer beat to the sight of flashing white light its straight into “Grazed By Heaven” and the first visual of founder member guitarist Mick Box making all his trademark hand signals like a wizard casting a spell.
Canadian vocalist Bernie Shaw is his usual entertaining self and it’s hard to believe he has been the front man now for a staggering 33 years. “Living The Dream” with it’s slow doomy feel is a fine example of the bands more modern material still being relevant with fine Hammond organ from long time keyboardist Phil Lanzon who carries everyone of tonight’s songs with his masterful keys.
“Rocks In The Road” one of the stand-out songs from the last album has a uplifting chorus with bassist birthday boy Davey Rimmer swirling around on stage and being a visual focal point as he obviously is enjoying himself. The great thing about a Uriah Heep show is the different styles that the band cover, from the drama of a gut heaving “Gypsy” with those trademark stacked harmony vocals and stabbing keyboards, to the acoustic “Lady In Black” with its bass drum stomp that keeps the tempo while the crowd sing out every word much to Bernie Shaw’s delight.
Look At Yourself” has the usual funky midsection where the whole group take it in turns just to be in the spotlight for a minute or two, especially Davey Rimmer and his snazzy bass guitar with the frets all lit up a bright blue. By this time as the set is fast approaching its winding down finale, all the band members are just jamming and goofing around a little bit and that just adds to the fun atmosphere being returned by the fans.
Mick Box introduces the band epic career highlight “July Morning” with a tale of when it was recorded in the early 1970s, he had been a bit poorly and on his arrival at the recording studio decided that the 3 pieces of music presented to him would be better served if they were spliced together as one long song, and that is how “July Morning” was created.
When artists take the time to reveal little snippets of information like this from the stage it’s something that is so appreciated from everyone gathered. As for the song itself with its woven tapestry of different moods and tempo’s it is and always will remain the centre point of any Uriah Heep show.
With the main part of the set complete with a flurry of artificial pyro, it’s just a waiting game before they enter the stage again with more stacked harmony vocals that gives us the dramatic “Sunrise” before its set closer and full on head down boogie of “Easy Livin” that has everyone rocking out and dancing away.
Once again for the umpteenth time that I have seen this great band as they gear up for next year’s 50th anniversary I can’t remember them ever being this entertaining, we were spoilt rotten in Bexhill.
Review by Steve Bruty for MPM
Photography by Darren Smith for MPM