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Uriah Heep - Magic Night CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

3.16 | 18 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Party time again

"The Magician's Birthday party" has quickly developed into an annual event for Uriah Heep. It allows them for one night per year to do something a bit special by revisiting the vast Uriah Heep songbook, while being joined by (usually) one off special guests.

"Magic night" is a recording of the 2003 concert, the latest at the time of writing. Guest wise, the line up is a bit disappointing. With such great names as Ian Anderson, Thjis Van Leer, and former member Ken Hensley having joined them in the past, the re-appearance of former vocalist John Lawton (who also appeared at the first Magician's Birthday party), and Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn while welcome, probably left some fans slightly bemused.

The band however are in fine form. Given that they have now been together far longer than any other Uriah Heep line up, they are extremely tight, and clearly enjoy being together. The harmonies are excellent, and Mick Box's trade mark guitar work is as unique as ever. The "Man of the Match" (MVP) award for this concert must however go to Phil Lanzon on keyboards. Over the years he has made the place Ken Hensley occupied so majestically, his own. Here he sometimes creates diverse layers of sound, sometimes he is the sound, but his contribution is always melodic and masterful. His playing is faithful to the original atmosphere, while stamping his own character on the music of the band.

As a lifelong (well almost) fan of the band, it really is good to see them dusting down tracks which have not been heard live for some 30 years, if at all. "Shadows of grief" from "Look at yourself", and "Pilgrim" from "Sweet freedom" were both excellent tracks in their day. They gain a whole new lease of life here with Bernie Shaw singing them as if they had been composed by the current line up. Both fall into the prog metal sphere, but that doesn't really tell the story. "Shadows of grief" is a heavy piece with many time changes. It demands the full dexterity of the vocalist, while featuring some melodic instrumental breaks. "Pilgrim" is more anthemic, especially the latter part. David Byron used every trick in the book vocally on the original, and Shaw makes every effort to match (but never mimic) him.

There's a good diversity of old and newer tracks, some of which are of course long time favourites ("Easy Livin'", "The Wizard etc"). The band does not dwell on these though, and Heather Findlay's contribution to "Love in silence" from the more recent "Sea of light" adds an extra dimension to a beautiful piece.

Following on from the successful "Acoustically driven" concert, the band include an all too brief unplugged section, which incorporates "Firefly", "Heartless land" and "Free me". Lee Kerslake leaves the comfort of his drum stool here, to sit harmonising alongside Shaw, a sight worth seeing!

The CD is produced in Super audio sound. The concert is however also available as a DVD video which includes 2 tracks not the CD.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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