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Uriah Heep - The Magician's Birthday Party (DVD) CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

4.17 | 21 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Classic Rock Legends

The Magician's Birthday Party is an annual Uriah Heep live event that has so far resulted in as many as three live concert DVD releases; the present one (filmed and recorded in 2001), Magic Night (filmed and recorded in 2003) and Between Two Worlds (filmed and recorded in 2004). As if this was not enough, there has been several further DVD releases by the band in recent years including the excellent Acoustically Driven show. All of these above mentioned filmed shows featured special guests. Artists like Osibisa (who originally contributed to Look At Yourself in the early 70's), Mostly Autumn's Heather Finlay and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson have all appeared on stage with Uriah Heep lately. On the present show we can see original member Ken Hensley temporarily re-joining the band after a two- decade absence as well as another former member, John Lawton (who also appears on the Magic Night DVD), who was the band's lead singer for a period in the late 70's. In addition, Focus's Thijs Van Leer is also present here on a couple of songs.

Van Leer first joins the band on stage for an amazing version of Tales on which Thijs contributes flute and - yes! - yodelling! This simply must be heard, and seen! It's magnificently hilarious! Van Leer comes back to add some wonderful flute again on the lovely Mistress Of All Time. Hensley joins the band for July Morning and stays for the rest of the show and John Lawton comes on for The Magician's Birthday on which he duets with Bernie Shaw. They have also three female backup vocalists, so it is a big cast.

The set list is mixed and there are a few songs that I don't like very much. These come mostly early and late in the set. The show opens with Stealin', I song that I have never liked. Sweet Pretender is another one I have problems with. These two are rather straightforward Rock 'N' Roll numbers. But there is also a wide selection of Uriah Heep classics, old and new. Return To Fantasy, Tales, July Morning, Sunrise, Paradise/The Spell, Circle Of Hands and Easy Livin' belong to the oldies while newer songs like Between Two Worlds and Mistress Of All Time stand up very well among the older songs. I would probably have wanted a few more newer songs, but I understand that most fans prefer the older stuff. The Magician's Birthday is a bit silly with its "happy birthday"-chorus and drummer Lee Kerslake on kazoo! The show ends with Sympathy and Free 'N' Easy, which, particularly the later, are not that exciting.

Personally, I prefer the Magic Night DVD over the present one; the band is smaller and tighter, the set list more interesting and unpredictable and the atmosphere a bit darker. Also, Magic Night presents the concert continuously without interruptions, while The Magician's Birthday Party annoyingly intersperses backstage footage, press conference footage and fan interviews in between the songs. The Acoustically Driven DVD is also excellent and very interesting, so I would say: having a couple of these DVD's - the acoustic one, plus one of the electric ones - is essential, but if you already have that then you have all the Uriah Heep videos you'll ever need (unless you are a major fan of the band, then you're really spoiled).

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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