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Uriah Heep - Moscow And Beyond (DVD) CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

3.86 | 12 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Back in the USSR, you don't know how lucky you were

In December 1987, Uriah Heep became the first Western rock band to perform live in Russia, playing to over 180,000 fans over 10 nights in Moscow. Bizarrely, it was the surprising success of the Byron era song "July Morning" which led to the invitation for the band to visit Russia.

The only minor problem the band had was that their line up was in a state of some disarray at the time. As fate would have it though, the most stable quintet in the band's history came together just in time for the visit, and the rest is history.

Audio recordings of the gig have been available on CD virtually since it took place, but the video of the gig remained unseen outside Japan for many years. In 2002 however, this DVD was finally released by Classic Rock Productions. It seems somewhat strange seeing the film of the gig over 20 years after the event. The band look so young, with ridiculous perms and mullets the order of the day. Indeed, the hair is so thick, the Russian hats the band are trying on seem totally superfluous.

Strangely, the film only lasts for around an hour, omitting a couple of songs which appeared on the CD. The core of the set is intact though, including a superb version of "Gypsy" which features a wonderful keyboards recital by the recently arrived Phil Lanzon. Unusually, Lanzon sings most of the lead vocals on his "Mr. Majestic", a role he would quickly bypass at future gigs.

As has become the tradition live, "The wizard" runs straight into "July morning" (something which confuses the DVD editor, who appears unaware of the intro to the latter in terms of track marking) the huge Russian audience going wild as the opening organ recital of "July morning" rings out.

The film of the gig is interspersed with footage of the band doing their tourist bit around Russia, plus Bernie and Phil causing the Russian Army bouncers at the gig some concerns as they bond with the audience.

Presumably in view of the short running time of the feature set, the DVD is rounded out by a few bonus selections. The first of these is 20 minutes of film from the band's 20th Anniversary gig filmed by the UK's Central television in 1989. This includes two old songs ("Bird of prey", one of the songs omitted from the film of the Moscow gig, and "Lady in black") and two (then) new songs. It also has some brief footage of Mick and Bernie reflecting on that gig and discussing the status of the band. As far as I am aware, while the film of this gig has been shown on British television (on the excellent "Cue the music" series), it has not been previously released on DVD. The rest of the set list is very similar to that of the Moscow gigs, hence the inclusion here of only four of the songs.

Mick and Bernie also reflect on that historic visit to Moscow in a brief separate interview. The DVD is rounded out by a 10 minute trailer for "Acoustically driven", the CD and DVD of Uriah Heep extraordinary unplugged gig by the band in December 2002. Even this taster should be enough to persuade the viewer to pick up that DVD forthwith.

In all, an essential DVD for fans of the band, if not for the music which is widely available on other DVDs, then definitely for the historical significance of the event. That significance applies not only in terms of Uriah Heep themselves, but in terms of rock music's ability to break down global barriers.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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