Artist: Uriah Heep
Album: Raging Through the Silence: The 20th Anniversary Concert—Live at the London Astoria 18th May 1989
Label: Uriah Heep Records/Cherry Red
Release Date: 9.8.17
Longevity has to count for something in rock ‘n roll. To survive two decades in a meat grinder of a business and still have a smile on your face—as irrepressible guitar hero Mick Box always does—is no small feat. Box and Uriah Heep were still standing in the late 1980s.
That, in and of itself, was remarkable, considering how untrendy their heavy, progressive-rock sound had become. They were dinosaurs in danger of becoming extinct. And yet they were keen to toast their past successes with a high-energy performance at one of the U.K.’s most historic venues, the crusty veterans intending to steamroll their way through a set list packed with classic Heep tunes. The night was preserved on film for posterity, but finding the masters years later for a proper reissue was a daunting task.
Pure kismet, the amazing story of how Uriah Heep recovered them is part of a colorful time portal of a package for the exhilarating 2-CD/DVD live release Raging Through the Silence: The 20th Anniversary Concert—Live at the London Astoria 18th May 1989. An archival find that wasn’t actually discovered in any vaults, this heady document—only available previously on VHS—is an exuberant celebration, as Uriah Heep’s longest-running lineup gallops through powerhouse anthems such as “Too Scared to Run,” “Easy Livin” and “Cry Freedom” and causes the fantastic theatricality of “The Wizard” and “Mr. Majestic” to soar.
Dark and somewhat dreary, it is not the most artful of concert films and it is a little dated, but Uriah Heep rises above it all, their instrumental chops making the bluesy “Stealin’” smolder and a glorious “The Other Side of Midnight” light up like a pinball machine in the chorus, as the nimble-fingered Box rips off scorching guitar leads at will and drummer Lee Kerslake pounds away like a heavyweight boxer. There’s a moment of unabashed bliss where high-flying lead singer Bernie Shaw and Box drop what they’re doing and hug. The audience would probably do the same to them if it could.