There is something special in going to the concert of a band that formed when your parents were barely out of the crib. Admiration, of course; fun, too. And obviously a bit of apprehension: are these 70 year-old guys really still capable of doing anything good? But when you’ve got a friend telling you it should be great, you do give it a try.
And oh boy.
Helsinki’s Kulttuuritalo [Culture hall] might not be the biggest venue in town, but it’s certainly one of the best. With both a large pit and a few hundred seats, impeccable sound and light engineers, it’s a great place to see anything, and the stage certainly doesn’t feel cramped for any band.
First up is Melrose, a veteran of Finnish rock and hard rock. They started in 1981. A full 10 years before I was even born. And you’ve got to give it to them: to them, age is just a number. Jumping like the proverbial Jack Flash, this power trio is exactly what you’d want a support band to be: full of energy, happiness, decontraction, really warming up the audience.
And before we talk about the main act, let’s talk a bit about the audience. It too has probably been born long before my time. And yet they’re all here, drunk as young and having just as much fun. Perhaps rock’n’roll isn’t just a thing of youth then? Who knows?
Anyway, Uriah Heep. Do I really need to introduce them? Started in 1967, still around in 2019. 50 years of career, almost as much as the Rolling Stones! And coming to Helsinki regularly, they’re basically in conquered lands. Tonight, they will play bits from all their career, from the early 70s’ Demons & Wizards to 2018’s Living The Dream. And somehow it all sounds good!
Uriah Heep is one of those bands that started out sounding pretty much like a cross between Deep Purple and Black Sabbath (no wonder), but they quickly found their style, and kept developing it. The keyboards are always useful in their mix, in the purest Purple tradition, binding everything together. And who needs two guitars when you’ve got one talented guy to work it for you?
Members have changed over the years, but the talent remained, and the passion is still intact. You can still see in their eyes the pleasure of playing together old songs as well as newest hits, the happiness of being on stage. These guys will probably not leave the stage alive, or at least that’s the impression they give.
And the audience responds to that, dancing furiously, drinking heavily and singing loudly the chorus of the best-known songs, not least the Lady In Black “haaaa hahaaaa hahahaaaaa hahahahaaaaaa”. I swear the singer could just have sat on the stage at that point and the audience would have carried on the singing by itself.
In short, don’t fear the old guys: some of them are just as rocking as ever, and have kept up with new skills while retaining all of their older talent.