[Live Review] Uriah Heep, TivoliVredenburg Utrecht

Fifty-two years of Uriah Heep being very ‘eavy and very ‘umble means it’s time for a (magician’s) birthday party in TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht. We were there.


Of course, this is the 50th anniversary tour for the venerable British rock band, but since we lost two years because of Covid, we’re having a belated celebration tonight in TivoliVredenburg’s pleasantly packed big hall. And since there is no support act tonight, we can get straight down to business. Or can we?  The stage is divided by a big white drape, and before it are some chairs and stools and a tiny drum kit set up right at the front of the stage as well as a keyboard rig. A quick peek behind the curtain however reveals a proper backdrop for the band as well as a regular drum kit. So without a support act, what’s this then?

The anwer is revealed as soon as the lights go down and video is being projected on the curtain of a host of famous rock musicians wishing the Heep a very happy birthday and well wishes. Amongst them are Deep Purple, Brian May from QueenJethro Tull‘s Ian Anderson and Biff Byford from Saxon. Then the band enters the stage to start the concert with an acoustic set. Opening with Circus and Tales and you can immediately feel that there’s magic in the air tonight. Heep does some great acoustic stuff here and they know it. Mick Box has a grin on his face that doesn’t lessen all night, and the other guys are obviously having great fun as well. The big star of the first set, however, is vocalist Bernie Shaw. At the age of 66, his voice is still as powerful as ever and capable of hitting all the proper highs and lows. And it’s especially during the acoustic stuff where he gets to truly shine and rise above the band. Highlights here are the beautiful Come Away Melinda and Lady in Black.


After a small break, during which the acoustic setup is torn down, we’re finally treated to Uriah Heep proper, kicking off with Against the Odds and The Hanging Tree. The sound is a bit off during the first minute, but it’s smooth sailing after that for the rest of the evening. As always, and without wanting to sell anyone short, the evening is about Phil Lanzon’s keyboards, Mick’s antics on the guitar as well as Bernie’s soaring vocals. And soar he does during live staples like Sunrise, Traveller in Time or Stealin’. Material beyond the classics is not forgotten however, with the splendid What Kind of God (from 2008’s Wake the Sleeper), Between Two Worlds and the speedy Too Scared to Run.

It never ceases to amaze how diverse a band Uriah Heep is. Whether it’s a folksy singalong like Lady in Black, furious proto-metal like Free ‘n’ Easy or a party song like Sweet LorraineHeep has it all and juggles all those balls of style with grace, all the while still sounding like the same band. Even after more than fifty years, you can still put on a new Heep song and recognise it instantly as being Heep. It’s one of the reasons tonight’s long set remains interesting to the end; it’s a greatest hits setlist that has the audience captivated throughout because whether they’re old or new, the songs are excellent. The other reason is that the band is still very clearly having fun. Especially Lanzon, Box and Shaw regularly sport contagious grins from ear to ear.


The evening ends on a high note with Gypsy and Easy Livin’ and I can’t the the life of me imagine anyone going home disappointed. Of course, everyone will have their own set of songs they would have loved to have heard live, it’s impossible to satisfy everyone with a discography of 24 albums, with a 25th set to be released next year. It’s an impressive feat that the band was already able to distill that vast discography into an evening like this. And a fantastic evening it was. So that leaves us with nothing left but to congratulate the almight Heep with 52 years of being very ‘eavy and very ‘umble, and hope we’ll meet again somewhere in the near future.

Acoustic Set:

  1. Circus
  2. Tales
  3. Free Me
  4. Come Away Melinda
  5. Confession / Rain
  6. The Wizard / Paradise / Circle of Hands
  7. Lady in Black

Electric Set:

  1. Against the Odds
  2. The Hanging Tree
  3. Traveller in Time
  4. Between Two Worlds
  5. Stealin’
  6. Too Scared to Run
  7. Rainbow Demon
  8. What Kind of God
  9. Sunrise
  10. Sweet Lorraine
  11. Free ‘n’ Easy
  12. July Morning
  13. Gypsy
  14. Easy Livin’

Review by Ralph Plug


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