Uriah Heep – Live At Koko, London 2014


Granite rockers smelt into metal…

Review by Paul H Birch

Frontiers Records

Release date: 20 February 2015

Heep fans tend to be diehards, sticking with them through hard times and good – the good being back in 1973 when they scored another Gold disc with Uriah Heep Live (“Friday night in Birmingham!”), the hard when Bronze Records folded and sold their back catalogue off, reducing them to touring the UK’s toilet circuit. But as a song from their first flop The High & Mighty goes, “You can’t keep a good band down” and they rebuilt their reputation; with their only records issued being live ones, initially of German radio broadcasts. However, that became a marketing gimmick that wore thin, because despite there being some good to excellent playing and welcome guest stars thereon: how many versions of ‘Gypsy’ do you need? Fortunately, more recently there’s been yet another turn in direction with them returning to the studio and making new records; ones that are resonating with a listening public and attracting a younger live audience.

Thus, let’s assume this is double CD, available in different formats with all the trimmings, is for them rather than those of us who’ll be ticking off the number of times we’ve got ‘Between Two Worlds’, a song that’s only been in the set since Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon joined the ranks (1986) let alone ‘Traveller In Time’ which actually went on too long on the original Live. But don’t take this criticism out of hand. The reason we go to see such bands is because we love the classics, and no one plays them like whatever’s left of the original line-up and Heep have retooled some of them down the years.

Here they hit the ground running with a couple of racing rockers in ‘Against The Odds’ and ‘Overload’ before taking us through a whistle-stop tour of around 40 years of organ-wielding gothic harmony hard rockers with not a demon nor a wizard in sight, in fact only the Look at Yourself album gets a good look in.

Overall, the songs are, if not faster, certainly harder; granite rockers smelt into metal. The newish rhythm section sound responsible, pummelling away as they do it’s invigorated Mick Box, who at his age ought to be sitting down rather than racing around his guitar neck, pulling on some well-sustained wailing licks and generally tearing it up, and it has given Bernie Shaw an interesting change of confidence – Previously coming across as the young ‘un in the band, the Canadian now demonstrates a brasher nature commanding the audience rather than playfully cajoling. He takes that line vocally on occasion too, reinterpreting songs he’s covered faithfully for years, and I rather like that. Heep’s choral harmonies are full-on, and mostly upbeat as evidenced on ‘Can’t Take That Away’ and ‘One Minute’ while Lanzon’s keyboards rock evocatively anchoring, stirring and embellishing throughout.

Highlights include an astounding ‘I’m Ready’, a version of ‘Lady In Black’ wherein the acoustic guitar cascades chords in a differing shade, the bass evokes their ‘Free Me’ pop period and Lanzon’s keyboards create a gypsy violin feel, yet it all works. For younger fans this album hits the proverbial ‘Nail On The Head’ with that particular track coming across like a Chin/Chapman production of Priest’s ‘Take On All The World’ here. Regardless, some things never change, and they drive the set to its dramatic conclusion loud and proud with ‘Easy Livin’. The world definitely doesn’t need another live Uriah Heep album, but this one serves as a good introduction to where the band is at today.

Uriah Heep – Live At Koko7.5 out of 10

Track listing:


  1. Against The Odds
  2. Traveller In Time
  3. Stealin’
  4. I’m Ready
  5. Between Two Worlds
  6. Can’t Take that Away
  7. One Minute
  8. Nail On the head


  1. Into The Wild
  2. Look At Yourself
  3. Box Wah Box
  4. July Morning
  5. Lady In Black
  6. Free ‘N’ Easy
  7. Easy Livin’