URIAH HEEP IN ISRAEL
October 16-17, 2003
PHOTOS - Part One
Read the pre-visit interview
"Between Two Worlds" is, sure, a URIAH HEEP song, but the title comprises the most fitting words to describe the experience that the Israeli music fans had on October 16th in Tel Aviv and on 17th in Haifa - the British band provided a great oportunity to get away from sometimes harsh reality. Even more appropriate these three words feel to one who could watch two simultaneous shows, one seen from the audience and the other from the stage. This time the public was more stunning than in 2000 (the report) - and stunned too: if the veterans' performance was just everybody expected it to be, the folks' reaction easily exceeded the artists' expectations - to such degree that all the way back from Haifa to Bat Yam where the five were staying, they basked in impressions, and only Bernie Shaw drowsed in the back seat of a van. Not because the singer got tired more than the others - although on-stage he indeed was running much - yet just a day before going to Israel Bernie flew over from Vancouver after attending his parents' wedding's sixtieth anniversary, so he didn't manage to tune into the European time. Yet Bernie didn't let it show.
Likewise, he didn't let the Haifa audience be sitting; the Tel Aviv punters took off from the go once "Easy Livin'" went crash boom bang, which set HEEP back in high spirits. Not that the band felt really low before the show, but delay caused by security measures has rather cooled a heat of the moment. Still, despite the threats to get drunk come the stage time, the jolly team found more intellectual things to do in a dressing room, like discussing a button missing from Lee Kerslake's shirt and looking for the rhyming word to "orange".
No rhyme had been found - Bernie claimed it didn't exist at all - instead, talking the fruits, Mick Box praised DEEP PURPLE's freshly released "Bananas", and Lee conned a word to name a citrus which, in fact, was a green tangerine: "Greengerine!" exclaimed the drummer to everyone's amusement. Amused and bemused with his stamina were quite many, as it seemed unbelievable that the bear-like chap would be hitting the skins so hard and singing so loud as he did on "The Magician's Birthday". The age left no mark on Lee's charm and added something special to Mick Box's appearance: if somebody else tried to make funny gestures to illustrate "July Morning" lyrics that would be, woe betide him, a blasphemy, but you could not fall under the spell of a man who signed the records right from the stage during the "Stealin'" guitar-less intro and danced some Georgian dance.
So if there's any HEEP aficionado left without an autograph or a picture with the guys, it's all down to his own lack of will, as in Tel Aviv HEEP got to talking with fans before the show and in Haifa proceeded with communication after the gig - even though someone commited a sacrilege by sneaking into a dressing room while the band were on-stage, and shamelessly emptied the bottle of vodka needed to regain the strength. Refusing to mingle with the supporters would be hard when all the songs had been sung by heart even by young girls - to the lads' surprise. Quite surprised the artists appeared to know also that immigrants from former USSR made no more than half of the audience, and Bernie's greetings in both Hebrew and Russian were rightly justified.
URIAH HEEP love visiting Israel, and not only because they usually come to Holy Land in Autumn when it's raining in England: in 2.30 at night Lee, sitting in a seashore cafe in his singlet and shorts and drinking white wine, professed his love to the country. Security situation seemed to worry them considerably less than the fact that Tel Aviv performance was the first for guitar tech Chris, "borrowed" from SMOKIE. The guy did great though, so when Mick would go behind the curtain to change an instrument - Box used four guitars - he just gave this writer a big hug, knowing everything worked out well. Sound engineer Charlie did her best in Haifa's Congress Hall, one not with the best acoustics, while admitting to like open-air venues like Tel Aviv's Wohl Amphitheater much more. (In their turn, Phil Lanzon and Trevor Bolder admitted they would love to have solo albums out next year: Phil, who expressed his love to Keith Emerson and Jimmy Smith, had already recorded piano versions of some HEEP classics, but Trevor's plans are more serious - read the interview.)
No matter what the difference between the venue could be, the concerts sets were the same, bar Grieg's quote in Mick's acoustic spot preceding "Lady In Black" on the second night: basically, the programme which the band presented at 2002's Classic Rock Festival in New Jersey and London - two relatively new pieces, "Between Two Worlds" and "I Hear Voices", on par with the rest including such gems of yore as "Seven Stars", "Other Side Of Midnight" and "Shadows Of Grief". There's always a change in URIAH HEEP's stage repertoire, something new joining the classic core, so here's another meaning to those three words, Between Two Worlds. And that's why the ensemble's always relevant and welcome. The guys were warmly welcomed back - and, sure, they will be.
PHOTOS - Part Two
© Eugene Veinard exclusively for DME