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Uriah Heep - Acoustically Driven (DVD) CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

4.62 | 33 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars On one of my walls hangs a promotional poster for Uriah Heep's Acoustically Driven tour. I got the poster from the entrance hall of the small club in Copenhagen were me and my girlfriend saw the band play in November 2006. The poster features the same beautiful Roger Dean artwork that also prides this excellent DVD. Before the gig we ate at a small junk food restaurant across the street from the club. Bernie Shaw, the singer, was there too, he ordered a kebab.

By the time of this concert experience I had already seen this DVD that was recorded several years earlier. And my expectations for the show were huge. They didn't disappoint! However, on the Copenhagen show it was just the band. On this DVD that was recorded in London, on the other hand, they had three female backup singers, a small string section, a slide guitarist, a flautist and a guy playing assorted percussion instruments and also Uillean pipes! In addition, Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull comes on stage with them to perform two songs. The band had never done anything like it before. Indeed, this is so different from what the band had done in the past that even people who don't like Uriah Heep might still love this! And in my opinion this is the best thing the band had ever done, before or since.

Almost all of the songs sound better here than they did in their original versions. It is not just that the concert is perfectly recorded and produced; the songs are given new and interesting arrangements and instrumentation. Strings, flutes, exotic percussion and other interesting instruments really add to these songs.

Hearing Mick Box play acoustic guitar on the whole show makes you think that he has hidden his talent behind a wall of wah-wah and distortion before. He plays better then ever, especially on the short solos. The acoustic bass guitar by Trevor Bolder also deserves special mention. He is easily the best bass player Uriah Heep ever had. Indeed, in my opinion this is the ultimate Uriah Heep line up. They might not be virtuosos but there are no mistakes on this show, everything flows perfectly. Bernie Shaw is also in my opinion a much better vocalist than David Byron ever was and Shaw's distinctive vocals fit the music perfectly.

I should say something about the set list. The show starts with a very good version of Echoes In The Dark, a perfect way to open the show. Right from the start it is evident that this is no regular Uriah Heep concert. Strings, piano and steel guitar dominates the song. After this follows a song called Why Did You Go? Thanks to the heavy use of steel guitar here, this song, together with Come Back To Me, have a significant country feel that was wholly absent on the original versions of these songs. This fact, coupled with the cheesy and unimaginative lyrics on these songs will perhaps turn off many prog fans. And these two songs are indeed the low points on this concert that might be skipped on a first listen. But hold on please, it gets a lot better.

The Golden Palace is altogether more progressive with lots of flute and an excellent haunting melody. This version far outshines the studio version of this song. Shadows And The Wind is a surprising choice and I've always liked this song. The original version features an extended Queen-like a cappella section that is a bit shortened here. But this version is still great.

Circus is another surprise. What is even more surprising is that Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull plays flute on it giving it a folky feel. Blind Eye is the other song that features Ian Anderson, and this song is drenched in his flute. The original version now sounds tame compared to this amazing live version. This is the way it should have sounded from the beginning.

Traveller In Time runs into More Fool You which features a short but great acoustic guitar solo by Mick Box. They end the show with the classic sing a long folk song Lady In Black, before returning for an encore consisting of a medley of The Wizard, Paradise and Circle Of Hands. This version of Circle Of Hands is interesting because it heavily features Uillean pipes!

Uriah Heep never made any masterpieces of progressive music. They did a couple of good albums in the early 70's, but since then their studio output has been average or even mediocre. But since Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon joined the band in the late 80's they have developed into a better live band than they ever were and this DVD is excellent proof. This DVD should silence all those who think that Uriah Heep is a poor man's Deep Purple. Deep Purple could never have done anything like this. Deep Purple doesn't even have songs like these.

I consider this DVD the ultimate Uriah Heep product and even if it might appeal more to prog folk fans than heavy prog fans, I think that any prog fan could enjoy this. And together with one of the band's recent electric live concert DVDs, this might be all the Uriah Heep many prog fans will ever need.

I could give this five stars but there are a couple of cheesy songs at the beginning that weights this show down a little bit.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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