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Uriah Heep - "The Magician's Birthday Party"
Classic Rock Productions 2002

Hahaha!!! I've got it! I have it!!! O.K. I found it on the edge of the world (what for sure wasn't and isn't Slovenia), but it is here with me. Live concert tapes FROM sold out Shepperds Bush Empire (London). One-night party where legends in their most stabile line-up (Box/Lanzon/Kerslake/Bolder/Shaw), unchanged since 1986, were accompanied by two ex-Heep eminent persons. Multi-instrumentalist Ken Hensley, a pure talented genius, an original Heep member FROM the band's beginning, whose Heep classics still remain band's first class pieces. The other guy was John Lawton (also worked with ZAR, a member of Lucifer's Night), who replaced Byron after his departure in late 1976 and worked with the band till mid 1979. Both guys are still very active and are releasing great solo albums. This live concert was something special and the magic was winning once again. It was the celebration of band's 30 years anniversary.

Ken joined the band on stage with his Hammond organ and recognizable back vocals in "July Morning". FROM the first beat of that song the crowd became even more active, the ambiental feeling rose, the seventies Heep magic was reborn. You will clearly hear the audience helping Bernie in verses of that song. Ken, with his back vocal lines, brought that seventies Heep spirit really alive.

The party began with galloper "Return To Fantasy", continued emotionally with "Tales" - great touch of flute added here. Back vocals were also performed by woman's trio and worked out supreme in colliding with the band. Without those unique back vocals there wouldn't be Uriah Heep. The only song FROM latest period was "Sweet Pretender" (Sonic Origami, 1998), everything else was a complete seventies majesty. Highlight of the party was "Magician's Birthday" for sure. The psychedelic middle section was done shorter and in verses "I challenge you... I challenge you all" John Lawton bursted on stage carrying a magic song with Bernie on vocals supremely to an end. John was then also performing "Sympathy" and heavy blazer "Free'n'Easy".

Then band closed the circle with "Sunrise" and a piece which crowd would miss very much if it hadn't been done: "Easy Livin'", of course. Also "I'll Keep On Tryin'" and "Circle Of Hands" found their places on set list.

A magician's rebirth. A band, which in my opinion always sounds better on stage, confirmed that once again. On a very special occasion and in a very special and different way: with a special set list and with special guests, rock legends John Lawton and Ken Hensley. You just can't afford yourselves to miss that kind of a thing.

Author:   Aleš

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