Bexhill’s Grade 1 listed modernist masterpiece have had a really impressive programme this year. In the last couple of months I’ve been here to see Justin Hayward and Glenn Hughes – and I’m rounding off the year with a trip to see the Sweet. But tonight we have not one but two classic British hard rock acts.
Filling the support slot for Uriah Heep on this tour are New Wave Of British Heavy Metal veterans Diamond Head. Quite the heaviest band I’ve seen on the De La Warr stage they hit the crowd with classics like ‘In The Heat of The Night’, ‘Shoot Out The Lights’ and ‘Am I Evil’. As with Heep themselves, it’s the lead guitarist who is the mainstay of the band through many line-up changes. But, like Heep’s Mick Box, Brian Tatler has assembled a talented group of musicians and a strong vocalist in Danish-born Rasmus Bom Andersen and they deliver a powerful set. They work the Heep audience nicely and get a very warm response in return.
With one exception the songs performed by Uriah Heep tonight are either very, very old or very, very new. Apart from ‘Too Scared To Run’, when the band completely re-invented its sound in the early 80s, the set is either songs from the band’s classic early 70s Byron- fronted era or from the band’s latest album Living The Dream.
After experimenting with a more modern sound (the 80s production sheen of the band’s albums from that period now sounds terribly dated, ironically) with the Heep of today it is forever 1972 – in all its progged up, Hammond pounding, era-defining glory. And that is exactly how we love it!
Vocalist Bernie Shaw and Keyboard player Phil Lanzon may have only come on board in the mid 80s – a good decade after the band’s golden period of the early 70s – but they completely get what the classic Heep sound is all about and know exactly what to deliver, whether that’s on songs originally performed by David Byron and Ken Hensley or songs from their latest album. Following the retirement and tragic death of Lee Kerslake and Trevor Bolder respectively, drummer Russell Gilbrook and bass-player Davey Rimmer have also prove worthy additions to the band. Tracks like set opener ‘Grazed by Heaven’ from their recent album sit neatly alongside those from the Demons & Wizards and Look at Yourself albums.
When it comes to introducing one of the real highlights of the set, Mick Box recalls the time the band were in the studio but he had to take a few days out due to contracting some sort of bug. When he returned the band had worked up three separate pieces. Box, however, observed that all three were in the same key and suggested joining the them together and adding a dramatic introduction to create something really special. ‘July Morning’ was born. The band deliver a truly majestic rendition tonight. That’s followed by a much less complex but no less memorable ‘Lady In Black’, Box donning his acoustic guitar and the crowd all joining in with this folky strum-along.
Back for a quick encore of ‘Sunrise’ and the glorious ‘Easy Livin’ the band have certainly delighted their Bexhill audience tonight.
Grazed by Heaven
Too Scared to Run
Living the Dream
Take Away My Soul
Rocks in the Road
Look at Yourself
Lady in Black