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

THE MAGICIAN'S BIRTHDAY PARTY (DVD)

Uriah Heep

Heavy Prog


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Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Finally, after the good, but somewhat predictable Acoustic Driven (every major band has a unplugged CD somewhere), here comes the real thing: The Magicianīs Birtheday Party. Recorded exactly after 30 years of that albumīs original release, it was a great event for everyone who attended the show at the time. With one of their best line ups ever (which stayed unchanged for over 15 years), the group delivers a fine show that includes a lot of their best known classics with power, precision and passion.

Itīs kind of a pity that they donīt play the whole album through, but they do pick up some of itīs most important tracks like Sunrise, Tales and, obviously, the title track (more of that later). The concert also includes fine versions of other classics plus some newer material (equally good, believe it or not). The guests list is a killer one: This Van Leer (adding flute to Tales), John Lawton and nothing less then the creator of it all, yes, mister Ken Hensley himself, playng his trademark Hammond Organ on the second part of the show. You can see by their smiles and the great music produced they were having a great fun. Iīm glad it was recorded, but, boy, do I envy who was there that night!

The highlights are many, but definitly there is nothing like hearing (and seeing) those guys playing the entire Magicianīs Birthday epic! John Lawton even joins in by the final part of the song playing the part of the Devil while Bernie Shaw (tottally possessed by David Byronīs spirit) plays the Magician. Awesome! And unforgettable! Ken Hensley by the way (and John lawton) are still in fine form! Watch and hear!

A great concert, and a must have for any Heep fan. Great DVD. 4,5 stars at least (one half less because of some missing songs that should have been played that night, but thatīs just my opinion). Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#161557)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars A veritable Wonderworld

The Magician's Birthday party was intended to become an annual event, although in recent years there has been some slippage in its frequency. While subsequent Parties can certainly be hailed as Magic Nights it is the first such event, held in London UK in 2001, which stands as the most memorable and emotional evening to date. The then current line up (drummer Lee Kerslake has since retired) were joined by former Heep members John Lawton and Ken Hensley. It is Hensley's presence which makes this the Uriah Heep gig to eclipse all others.

The band play a commendable set covering a cross section of their songs through the years. Original lead singer David Byron is remembered in the lyrics of "Between two worlds", while Thijs Van Leer (of Focus) gives "Tales" from "The magician's birthday" album a whole new dimension with some wonderful flute playing and yodelling(!). Hensley first appears on stage for "July morning", and remains there from then on. Most of the time he is back at his Hammond organ, sitting adjacent to current keyboard player Phil Lanzon. The highlight for me is the rare live performance of "Paradise/The spell" where Hensley's switches to slide guitar for the epic solo from that piece.

This DVD version adds a whole new dimension over and above that captured by the CD release. For one thing, there are a host of tracks on this set which were omitted from the CD, including such classics as "Stealin'" and the more recent "Mistress of all time".

Despite any residual animosity between the surviving members of the classic line up, there is a real feeling of kinship and hatchet burying throughout the gig, with Hensley and Kerslake even indulging in a spontaneous embrace. For fans of the band, this was a night made in heaven, and one which will live on through this superb DVD for many years. For fans of the band, this is an essential acquisition.

The DVD includes a decent collection of bonus features, including an extra track from the gig ("Logical progression") and a featurette on their visit to the USA in 2001. There is also a fine booklet with many still photos from the gig.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#202347)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a fantastic DVD and my personal favorite Heep DVD. Lot's of blasts from the past, great song selection, only thing that's missing is ''Gypsy'' it would be great to see Hensley doing keyboard solo on that one. Great start of the concert with ''Stealin''' it just gets you moving than ''Return to fantasy'' fantastic performance by Shaw not just on these song but in all of them really strong voice. Shaw proofed that he is the first real Heep singer after the great Byron. He sings Byron songs great and he is not trying to copy him. Mick is great on these one it's really great to see Mick and Ken together on stage playing the songs with witch they made history. Lawton is also the guest on the concert and the version of Sympathy is fantastic. Also some of the new songs were played ''Sweet pretender'', ''Between two worlds '' all made this concert brilliant ... Great concert !

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Send comments to Floyd_child (BETA) | Report this review (#225075)
Posted Wednesday, July 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
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).

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#312066)
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permalink

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