Ya just can't stop the HEEP! Forty years running and URIAH HEEP is anything but a nostalgia act rehashing the oldies on the casino circuit. As we've seen right on up through "Wake the Sleeper" and this year's "Into the Wild" tour de force, the band is writing some of the best music of its career and delivering the goods on stage with more energy than bands half its age and stunning fans and musicians alike with superior musicianship. You can hear it on this double-CD performance captured during a first-ever tour stop in Armenia and you can sure as heck see it on the bonus DVD.
Vocalist Bernie Shaw, guitarist/vocalist Mick Box, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, bassist/vocalist Trevor Bolder, and drummer/vocalist Russell Gilbrook play the dual roles of consummate musicians and purveyors of the good times. You always hear bands talking about feeding off the energy from the crowd and giving it back tenfold, but one look/listen to "Live in Armenia" and such statements are brought to life with loudness, assertion, and clarity. Rather than relying on '70s classics and then going through the motions with a few new ones, URIAH HEEP justifiably includes a heavy dose of material from the tour-supported "Wake the Sleeper". Those songs hold up every bit as well as the classics, as proven with "Stealin'" (one of the gig's magical moments) sandwiched between "Tears of the World" and "Book of Lies". Opening with the one-two punch of (at the time) newbies "Wake the Sleeper" and "Overlord" cranks the voltage to lethal levels and keeps it there, as a spirited Shaw demands and gets maximum crowd response, his frequent admonishments to camera-toting fans notwithstanding. Every musician on that stage is on fire and that includes spot-on vocal harmonies that are so important to URIAH HEEP sound, not to mention individual performances that turn into pure dynamite the classics that come in waves later in the show. We're talking songs like "Sunrise", "July Morning", "Easy Livin", "Sunrise", "Sympathy", and "Lady in Black", a grand encapsulation of a golden era.
When the dust finally settles, all anyone wants is more, but with the number of ace cuts in the URIAH HEEP catalogue would have forced an extra hour for the encores alone. Lots of love from the crowd, lots of love from the band, and an amazing amount of great music is what the purchaser of "Live in Armenia" will experience. You know, like offering money in exchange for a product? Support great bands by compensating them for the enjoyment they give to so many people the world over.