Uriah Heep @ Corona Theatre – 10th February 2018

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uriah heep montreal

If heavy metal has a holy trinity then I just witnessed one of its parts during Uriah Heep’s first visit in 20 years to Montreal (the other parts being Black Sabbath and Deep Purple).

The night could be summed up with the phrase: “epic nostalgia”. The venue fitted perfectly for the crowd and the band, intimate enough for a rock performance and with enough room to move, sing along and meet other fans. Young and old, but mostly the latter, gathered at the Corona Theatre for a night tripping in memories and lyrics.

The theatre was not sold-out, which seemed odd for a show from an amazing band that hadn’t played in more than two decades in the city. Long hair, bald heads and grey hairs saturated the front of the stage as well as the seated area at the top of the venue. People were ecstatic and almost anxious to hear great epic hymns from their youth and. In my case, from their parents’ youth.

The opening band, The Riot Police, was invited two days before the show by Uriah Heep themselves after having opened for the legendary band on Tuesday, February 6th. The Riot Police was very happy and felt very humbled to warm up the crowd with their alt-rock sound.

After playing for more than an hour, the opening band had paved the way for the main act. Finally, after so long, Uriah Heep took the stage. With dim lights and spotlight on the keyboard section, a triumphant opening started playing at the hand of Phil Lanzon. One by one the members started joining in and the party had officially begun.

Bernie Shaw, the singer, entered with a drink in hand and smile across his face. He was happy to be there and glad to see many faces in awe and expectation of what was to come. He animated the crowd and used what he called his 8th grade French to welcome everyone and invite us to join him in partaking of the lyrics and make them ours.

They opened up with the very first song from their very first album, Gipsy from the 1970 album “Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble”. This debut song set the tone for the nostalgic show and paved the way for the rest of the songs.

With the exception of a couple of songs, most of them were from their 70’s albums. From an era where they filled venues and where even in Finland, they climbed to top spots in charts and radio stations.

Song after song was joined with the unified chorus that was the crowd. The “oohs” and “aahs” that are so particular to the proto-progressive band that is Uriah Heep made it so interactive and it engaged the crowd so much that many tried to guess which song was up next and claimed for their favorites after each clapping session at the end of each song.

Mick Box, the guitarist and only original member left, wooed the crowd with his intact guitar riffs and licks, moving his hand like a wizard enchanting his guitar and playing constantly with only his neck holding hand. He smiled a lot and spoke very little and thanked everyone after every solo with hand up high and waving at the floor and the balcony.

The word nostalgia doesn’t cover what was experienced there by everyone. The sensation during and after the show was that of a life well lived, of comfort during a harsh winter and of feeling connected to a bigger story, that of epic music and the history of heavy rock and prog.

Setlist:

Gipsy
Look at yourself
Shadows of grief
Stealin’
The Law
Sunrise
The Magician’s birthday
The Wizard
One Minute
Between Two Worlds
July morning
Lady in black

Encore:
Easy Livin’

Review – Ricardo D. Flores

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