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Ken Hensley - More Than Conquerors (with John Wetton) (DVD) CD (album) cover


Ken Hensley


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4.00 | 7 ratings

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Easy Livin
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4 stars Wizards in the heat of the moment

In 2001, Ken Hensley returned from the US to the UK on a permanent basis (or at least until he move on to Spain!) and renewed some old acquaintances. He joined up with former Heep member John Wetton in the recording studio, with Wetton contributing to Hensley's then current solo album, "Running blind". In December that year, he also played again with Uriah Heep for the first time in over 20 years. It was during the weekend of "The Magician's Birthday party" that Hensley and Wetton also got together on stage for the gig captured here.

While the song writing credits would tend to indicate a bias towards Hensley's recordings, it should be remembered that Wetton played on the original Uriah Heep recordings of a number of them, and performed others live while a member of that band. Further, it is a lesser known fact that Wetton (not David Byron) actually provided the lead vocal on "One way or another" when it opened Heep's "High and mighty" album.

The main gig runs to around 90 minutes, drawing in songs from Wetton's solo career, his time with Asia, Hensley's solo work, and music from the David Byron era of Uriah Heep. John's fine voice suits the Heep material well, with songs such as "Return to fantasy" and "July Morning" retaining all their magic. While Ken was never as talented vocally as David Byron, his voice was actually very similar (to the extent that many people do not realise even now that it is his voice on the album version of "Look at yourself"). Ken and John trade lead vocals through the gig with the latter being slightly the more dominant.

It is interesting to hear songs such a the aforementioned "One way or another" and "Confession" getting a live airing, simply because they first appeared on an album the two were both involved in. Interesting too is the way some of the Uriah Heep songs, while played out in full, are blended together in a continuous medley. As "Return to fantasy" becomes "July morning", Ken tells the audience "this is your bit now". He then proceeds to deliver a truly impassioned vocal, demonstrating that over 30 year later the song still means a great deal to him. Pleasingly, Ken plays the original Hammond solo this time, rather than the staccato version which tends to find favour in the Uriah Heep live set. It is only when we get to the famous screamed section that we look in vain for the late David Byron.

John Wetton's selections from his own (or joint) compositions tend to be ballads and power ballads such as "Battle lines", "Emma" and the particularity emotional "Hold me now". Ken on the other hand mostly goes for upbeat numbers from his solo work. These, including the opening "Overture", are all from his then current album "Running blind" (on which the entire line up here except John Young appeared) although "I don't want to wait" first appeared on the "Time to time" collection. Hensley and Wetton keep a couple of crowd pleasers up their sleeves for the encore which consists of Uriah Heep's "Lady in black" and Asia's "Heat of the moment".

In all, a highly enjoyable set which blends a fine cross section of songs from the history of these legendary artists. The duo is augmented by the presence of four other musicians; Dave Kilminster, Steve Christie, Andy Pyle and John Young, the packaging failing to give these guys the credit they deserve. (The booklet does however helpfully tell us the "Jump to tracks" option lets you "choose the track you'd like to hear".)

The DVD also contains four bonus promo videos. Of these, two are for songs from Hensley's "Running blind" album, both of them featuring in the main gig. These videos are straightforward films of Hensley and his band performing the songs. Wetton's "Battle lines" is also included in the gig, the video here being a superb period drama piece taken from the film "Chasing the deer". His Asia song "Praying for a miracle" is only included in this section (not in the gig), the performance here being a live one by post-Howe Asia.

As is customary for Classic Rock Legends" releases, the extras also include snippets from other DVD's released by the label. In this case, these cover bands such as Wishbone Ash, Ian, Gillan, Caravan and Asia.

In summary, a wonderful package, the main course of which is a unique event which will particularly appeal to fans of Uriah Heep, Asia and of course the two principal performers.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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