Judas Priest & Uriah Heep | June 27, 2019 | Microsoft Theater | Los Angeles, CA – Concert Review & Photo Gallery

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Review & Photos by Charlie Steffens

Judas Priest and Uriah Heep, two of England’s oldest hard rock bands, came to Los Angeles to prove that they can still kick ass.

Opening for Priest proved to be a worthy platform for Uriah Heep. Surprisingly, in the one-hour set, they touched each era of their 50-year timeline, including two songs from their most recent release, 2018’s Living The Dream. Currently, the five-piece lineup is made up of original guitarist Mick Box, along with singer Bernie Shaw, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, bassist Davey Rimmer, and drummer Russell Gilbrook.

With a sound that was driven as much by keyboard as guitar, Uriah Heep was one of the pioneers from the early ‘70s that employed heavy metal and progressive rock sensibilities in their music. Seminal tracks like “Easy Livin’” and “Stealin’” made Uriah Heep widely popular, and continue to get airplay today on classic rock stations. But within their catalog of 25 studio albums are tunes that remain timeless.

Opening the show with “Grazed by Heaven” from Living The Dream, Heep played solid right out of the gate. Playing newer material at the start of a set is adventurous, but their fast-tempo adrenalized sound was appreciated by the crowd, and each member of the band had a center-stage moment during the set. Collectively, their sound is Deep Purple-esque, especially with the throaty organ.

Lanzon is a great keyboardist, right up there with the likes of Jon Lord, Keith Emerson, and Rick Wakeman, exhibiting an animated style of playing. Shaw is a powerful singer with an exuberant stage personality, and Box’s guitar playing is exceptional (and certainly underrated). Going back to 1971, the band played the title track of Look at Yourself, pulling out all the stops before closing the set with staples “Stealin’” and “Easy Livin.’” Uriah Heep undoubtedly made some new fans on this night.

The audience that filled the Microsoft Theater were primed by Uriah Heep’s powerful performance. It was now time for one of rock’s most prodigious acts to take the stage and the crowd was ready.

A smoky silhouette appeared behind a scrim stage right as the intro to “Necromancer,” from 2018’s Firepower, played. Rob Halford emerged in purple garb and mirrored shades, taking the mic as the crowd went wild. From there, the band kicked out a classic, “Heading Out to the Highway,” and the show was on.

Halford’s voice defied his years, as he sang “A chance before I fall!” in his trademark falsetto. His vocals would soar even higher as the show progressed. Dramatic, frequently ominous lighting bathed the players and stage props. With haunting visuals and first-rate sound, the rest was up to the band.

The guitar duo of Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap, backed up by Scott Travis on drums and bassist Ian Hill, was tight. Faulkner, now a seasoned vet, has earned his spot in the band. The youngest in the group at 39, he performed with vitality, at times perching on the brink of being too showy. Watching him, it’s easy to think of Randy Rhoads or Michael Schenker in both the physical and sonic sense.

Last year, when longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton stepped down from touring due to Parkinson’s Disease, Sneap was recruited to tour in his place. As Tipton’s fill-in, he held up his end well, though most of the heavy lifting was handled by Faulkner. The 90-minute set list included some of the band’s best cuts, missing just a few of the key songs.

The audience was transported back to 1986 with “Out in the Cold,” and then 10 years further back to the seminal Sad Wings Of Destiny album. During “Victim of Changes,” onstage footage of Glenn Tipton rolled in sync while Faulkner played. Halford faced the screen with devil horns raised, creating an emotional moment throughout the audience. For the encore, out came the motorcycle and “Hell Bent For Leather” blasted out, and was followed by “Breaking the Law,” with enthusiastic participation from the crowd.

The metal gods closed the show with “Living After Midnight.” As the band took a bow, ‘The Priest Will Be Back’ appeared on the overhead screen, letting us know that a farewell tour isn’t imminent.

More Judas Priest & Uriah Heep Photos
from the Toyota Arena in Ontario, CA

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