Mott's Birthday Party.
Kim Fletcher | Pattaya, Chonburi Thailand | 07/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD goes to prove - come what may - that you cannot keep a good band down. In the past fourteen years, although with a steady lineup and consistent world wide touring, Uriah Heep have only released three new studio albums, which have actually been critically well received, but only did moderate sales, as opposed to six studio albums in their first three formative years, added to which was the groundbreaking double live album. But live the boys can still pack concert halls across the globe, with their full-on stage shows and enthusiastic performances. The Magician's Birthday Party was recorded at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, England on 7th December 2001 to celebrate thirty two years of the monster on this planet that Uriah Heep is. They went through five drummers, six bassists, four keyboard players, four lead vocalists, but only one lead guitarist, quite an achievement. (Making the "Spinal Tap" drum stool look secure.) To be fair, the current lineup of Uriah Heep has been together (with barely a hick up) now since 1988. The event had been sold out weeks in advance by the loyal Heep fans, and the band itself has promised a special show. They delivered in no uncertain terms, giving a powerful performance that belied their mounting years. (Watching the DVD Concert section of the show one cannot help but make comparisons between the appearance of the band and their counter parts in the spoof band "Strange Fruit" from the movie 'Still Crazy', with the resemblance between drummer Lee Kerslake and his film double Timothy Spall, keyboard player Phil Lanzon and Stephen Rea, and especially lead vocalist Bernie Shaw and the superbly over the top Bill Nighy. It is quite hard to not expect to glance sideways and expect Billy Connelly to be part of the road crew.) The band gives a very energetic performance, playing songs from as far back as their third album "Look at Yourself" (1971). With the classic song "July Morning" Mick Box delivers a superb guitar solo to bring the song to a dramatic climax, whilst Bernie Shaw mirrors the exacting high falsetto vocals of sadly departed original Heep vocalist David Byron. Before that the band plays "Between two Worlds" from their last studio album, the wonderfully monickered "Sonic Origami". (1998). Uriah Heep had also promised surprises during the show, and no die hard fan of the band could possibly have been disappointed by what they got. First up during "Between Two Worlds" Thijs Van Leer, formally of Dutch super group 'Focus', gets up on stage to play the flute parts and as a special treat gives a few of his customized yodels. Then after a couple more songs the crowd goes totally bananas as original keyboardist/slide guitarist/vocalist/and for a time chief songwriter. (For Heep;s ninth album "High and Mighty"1976 he wrote all the songs.) Ken Hensley gets up on stage to play with the band for the first time in twenty one years. The years roll back and Ken Hensley fits musically back into the band like a velvet glove, switching between vocals, keyboards, and some wonderful slide guitar, especially during the epic "Circle of Hands". Now as a six piece Rock band (with the edition of three beautiful back up singers, who are certainly easier on the eye than some of the aging Rock Stars on the stage) they bring the set proper to a rousing conclusion with a definitive version of "The Magician's Birthday", which gives each member of the band a solo opportunity. Encore time brings the whole entourage back on stage with the addition of Heep's vocalist for three studio albums and three years of live work, John Lawton (who had miraculously grown his hair back for the night), for two more rockers to send the crowd home into the cold London night deliriously happy. Of course you do not have to do that as you can now watch it at your leisure in the comfort of your home - thanks to the wonders of DVD. The extras are worth the price of the DVD on their own with a filmed visit of the band to the U. S. A, Rock vault of other bands that have DVD on the Classic Rock Label, a bonus track in studio form, and a documentary of a Uriah Heep Fan Convention with the band in attendance. When you look at the set list and notice which songs Uriah Heep could afford to leave out, you get an idea of how strong the Heep back catalogue is. How many other bands could play a two hour set at a celebration concert and still leave out such classics as 'Gypsy', 'Lady in Black' and 'The Wizard'. Most other bands would have to build their whole set round them. It is thirty two years on the road now for Uriah Heep, and if this DVD is anything to go by, there is plenty of life in the old Dog for a few more years to come. Mott the Dog."
Heepsters, Rock fans, Don't ignore this DVD
Subash S L | Chennai, India. | 08/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I consider myself extremely lucky to have watched this DVD just weeks after Uriah Heep's concert in Bangalore, India. What an amazing concert on DVD. Having just seen the same five members at Bangalore the DVD was hardly boring. There were songs that they did perform at the concert and then there were great songs that they didn't. One such song is "I'll keep on Trying" from their very first album Very 'eavy very 'umble. I wish they had performed that number at the concert. Mick's guitar solo is one of the finest you'll ever hear in a rock song. Pleasant surprise 1 - Enter Ken Hensley on organ/piano/guitar and who had been a quintessintial part of the band in the seventies. Some great songs follow including "July Morning", and a melodious number when Ken switches to play guitar.
With great vocals from Bernie Shaw he proves he is still the best replacement for all the previous singers of Heap. The highlight of the DVD is a one-of-a-kind guitar-drum solo performed by Mick and Lee Kerslake. I have watched tonnes of solo's but nothing of this kind. When they finally conclude to break into the next song they are joined by pleasant surprise number 2. Enter John Lawton who once used to be the lead vocal of the band. Both singers duet and conclude a fantastic concert.
The concert is not continuous and is nicely interjected with behind the scene footage, interviews, practice sessions of the band etc.
For all you classic rock enthusiasts and Heep fans, this DVD is one you must not be without."
A must-have for any Heep, Hensley, or Wetton fan.
Mark Lahren | Bismarck, North Dakota USA | 07/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While the production is not nearly as slick as the other recent Uriah Heep DVD releases, this is still worth having because it is so much fun to see Ken Hensley and John Wetton performing together. Recorded at the London Forum December 2001 during the same weekend as the recording of the Uriah Heep "Magician's Birthday Party" DVD (another must-have if you can find it). As I said, other Heep DVDs have much better production, but this DVD is no slouch either. It looks and sounds quite decent, if a bit amateurishly filmed. But hey, where else are gonna see these two guys (and their band) like this?
Track listing: Overture, A Minor Life, Easy Livin', One Way Or Another, Return to Fantasy, July Morning, Battle Lines, Confession, Emma, Hold Me Now, After All, The Wizard, I Don't Wanna Wait, Out Of My Control, Tell Me, Lady In Black, Heat Of The Moment."
Bob Rock | UK | 12/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the ultimate Heep concert on DVD ,.Great sound great pictures.Ken Hensley back in the fold with John Lawton guesting on vocals...who could ask for more?....well try Thijs van Leer of Focus guesting on flute and you get the picture A magical evening featuring the very best of Uriah heep live.A must buy"