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“Foundation of influence for future generations…”

Online portal Entertainment Africa has a rather interesting review of the show in Johannesburg written from a prospective of a mainstream rock fan apparently of a younger generation.

Since the site is barely usable (for starters, the font on my screen is so small that it is unreadable and I can’t change it as the whole page is in Flash), I took the liberty of reproducing the review here verbatim. Oh, and by the way, yesterday we’ve already posted links to excellent pictures by Michael Currin on his father’s blog.

Learnin Rock From The Masters

Contributed by: Taryn Cantor

Photo by: michael.currin.co.za

When was the last time you went to a rock concert and the number of people with grey hair (or dyed grey hair) made up the majority? When last did you see groups of 60+-year-old women wearing shorter skirts, tighter shirts and higher heels than you? I could almost hear their children (or grandchildren) saying to them: “Where do you think you’re going dressed like that?!”

Ah, yes… Old-school rockers reliving their youth and probably looking the same as they did in the ’60s and ’70s, apart from a few wrinkles. Ponytails and leather jackets in hand, the concert is the epitome of nostalgia for this seasoned crowd.

Wishbone Ash, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple are about to perform to a sold out Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg. It is at this point when a friend’s reply to an email reverberates in my head. On asking him whether he was going to the Masters of Rock concert, his response was less than euphemistic: “I’m tired of irrelevant washed up artists coming to SA.” This is the cynical voice of a fed up music lover frustrated with South Africa having become a port for a backlog of artists who were popular a decade or more ago. Are we so deprived that we get excited about any band coming to South Africa, because we don’t get the big ones of our time but the big ones past their sell by dates?

Surely these three rock groups are a little different, considering they were creators and innovators of the genre, and are still churning out CDs and making fans out of the younger generations.

Or is he right? Do these acts still have what it takes? Can they still perform as well as they did in the time of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll? I begin to have visions of men with long white beards, propping themselves up with their guitars and trying to relive their heyday on stage.

White beards are right, but I have the rest of it wrong.

Wishbone Ash, one of Britain’s leading hard rock groups in the early ’70s, are the first to perform and they play those electric guitars better and harder than I’ve seen any current band play. The band are recognised as one of the first to use the now common approach of twin lead guitars. Both guitarists at the time were voted as “Two Of The Ten Most Important Guitarists In Rock History” (Traffic magazine 1989). This most certainly rings true in their performance, although after much controversy and band member turnaround over the years, guitarist Andy Powell is the only original remaining member. Even so, their act is unexpectedly impressive.

The next band up is Uriah Heep, whose name, I must confess, I had heard for the first time last year from my father after he’d listened to the latest Muse album. Indeed, Uriah Heep most certainly do conjure up sounds I’d heard from Muse, who played in Johannesburg just two years prior. This is when I most want to pose the question to my friend: “How irrelevant can these bands be if they’re still influencing rock bands over 30 years later?”

The men appear on stage through lights, smoke and epic sonic sound waves, antithetical to that of the “very ‘umble”, to quote the Charles Dickens’ character Uriah Heep, from where the band got their name. Only when the camera closes in on them on the big screens, can you see that the once long golden locks are in fact grey, but surprisingly, no fewer locks than they had in the late ’60s, according to pictures. These “real musicians”, to quote the evening’s host Barney Simon, could put any new rock or metal band to shame. Any doubts one might have had about these granddads can officially be laid to rest.

The band members of Uriah Heep seen on stage at Friday’s concert (bar the drummer) have been together since 1986, joined then by vocalist Bernie Shaw, who looks phenomenally and surprisingly “cool” in his leather pants equipped with knife-holder (for his microphone), zip-up shirt and zebra-print cowboy boots. His charisma is enthralling, to the point that even though I’m only a recent fan, I want his autograph.

The performance is exhilarating and energetic. The crowd don’t stop participating and screaming for them. At one point during a song called ‘Sunrise’, driven by thunderous church-like organs, Shaw can easily be mistaken for a preacher of rock and the entire Dome full of people his devoted followers. When the band play their 1977 no.1 hit ‘Free Me’, the entire crowd erupt with the lyrics. Shaw’s voice resounds almost operatically at times, and you can see and feel the intensity in every note in his voice, every muscle in his body and every bead of sweat on his face.

Mick Box, the original guitarist since 1969, employs all the antics one would expect of a vintage rock band, including one-handed guitar playing, teeth guitar playing, above the head guitar playing and even gyrating and thrusting with the guitar between his legs. Younger generations might call it clichéd while other bands try to emulate them, but they still remain the originals and still do it better than anyone else.

As their set comes to a close, this experienced band who have played countless concerts, are still humbled and bewildered by the reaction from the crowd, as they skip off stage, arms around each other, true brothers for over 40 years.

Now I’m on a high and ready to see what our headliners, Deep Purple, supposed legends, have in store. This is what the crowd have been waiting for; the climax of the concert, even more impressive than the last band, right? Wrong.

It all starts off well. The band members fit the identikit of “cool” ’70s rockers. Perhaps even cooler is the bassist, Roger Glover, with his red bandana and flowing hair, resembling a cross between Willie Nelson and Hulk Hogan.

Then, Ian Gillan, the lead singer, steps onto stage. It’s as if someone’s dad has stumbled out by mistake. He looks misplaced amongst the manes, with his red collared shirt, black jeans, white sneakers and Captain Kirk haircut. He seems lost, or like he’s forgotten something. Indeed he has – his Ray-ban sunglasses, which he fetches from behind the keyboardist about six times during the performance. He’s apparently unable to decide if he looks better with them on or off, constantly adjusting them from his face to on top of his head, like a nervous twitch.

Even more bizarre is the fact that the voice emanating from his mouth is bewilderingly powerful and without disappointment. It seems to belong to a different body — although, unfortunately, he looks more comfortable playing the tambourine than holding a microphone.

Thankfully, the rest of the band members more than make up for Gillan’s awkwardness. Particularly the keyboardist who looks like a Mozart-esque mad scientist behind his six or more stacked keyboards, with a miniature Ozzy Osbourne bobble head bouncing to the stories he tells with his fingers, running over the keys so fast that you’d find it hard to believe he’s actually playing. He breaks into a piano medley spanning from recognisable classical pieces, to nursery rhymes, experimental electro ’80s music, sci-fi sounds, and eventually, our South African national anthem. As is to be expected, the crowd go wild, young and old alike.

If there’s ever an event that can bridge the gap between young and old, parents and children, this is it. These artists are living proof that perhaps real rock music is the fruit of the serum of youth.

The question is, will today’s rock artists be remembered for half as long as those of yesteryear, who, more than four decades later, are still making music which is recognised by both young and old, as evidenced by the turnout.

So, are these artists “irrelevant, washed up”? I guess that depends on how you define “irrelevant”. If relevance pertains to artists of the generation that birthed the original “Masters of Rock”, a foundation of influence for future generations who would continue the genre, then they certainly can’t be classified as irrelevant. If you define relevance as something that is merely current and part of popular culture, and deny the historical influence behind that, then indeed, go ahead and label them “irrelevant”. I bet I can find stadiums full of both nostalgic and current fans that would say otherwise.

Thanks to Daniel Bengtsson for the info.



30 Comments to ““Foundation of influence for future generations…””:

  1. 1
    Made in England says:

    What a joy to read. It really put a smile on my face.

    It’s great that these bands can still impress in this way.

  2. 2
    Moreblack says:

    The old British rock!!!How i love it.How about a New NWOBHM?

  3. 3
    dave_wallis says:

    Bow down to Captain Kirk!

  4. 4
    Fungus Gil says:

    The Uriah Heep guys, particularly Bernie & Mick, were stunned by the responsiveness of the crowd (not only in Joburg, but at the following concerts in Durban & Cape Town). They stated more than once their surprise at how many young people were at the show & how much they’d like to return to do a full show (both Wishbone Ash & Uriah Heep were limited to an hour each, with Deep Purple playing for an hour forty-five … proceedings got under way at 7.15 pm & finished exactly at mid-night).

    Interesting her perspective on IG – I thought the black designer shades were a tongue-in-cheek reference to the likes of Ray Charles, & didn’t find him “awkward” at all. What I believe I noticed was that the 2 Ian’s in particular seemed to be suffering jet-lag more than the others. IG was far more chatty & upbeat in Durban, & even more so in Cape Town. Bear in mind that 3 nights before the Joburg show, they had played 2 dates in Russia & I in Armenia, having arrived there from Malaysia – consider the long-haul flights & travel procedures to accomplish all that!

    Interesting her linking of Don Airey to Ozzy Osbourne – most DP fans will know that he played in Ozzy’s band in the 80s.

    Talking of relevance, my two teen daughters (14 & 17) have enjoyed DP’s music all their lives (the younger one heard DP’s final Joburg concert on April 2 1995, 3 months prior to her birth, & has been a fan since). They were so psyched to finally get to hear & see them live in concert – the older girl said that she would be gloating to her friends at school the following Monday. One of her friends was distraught that her father hadn’t been able to get tickets as the shows were apparently all sold out.

    By the way, a friend of mine who works for the venue management confirmed it was a full house of 19’000 people.

  5. 5
    Bo says:

    Great peace the read. I can only say I understand fully what he says about Gillan these days. On and off he still have a great voice, not like the early days – but still good. But does he have to dress like a businness man on holliday?
    I can only agree to the idea of that they can do 101% what they want, but the must NEVER not forget that they are not just a band from the golden days 35-40 years ago.- THEY are Deep Purple ! (well without JL and RB some will say only some of them are). And with that name you have to be carefull. For many – I’m one of them – DP will always be a part of my genes and the greatest band EVER. Full stop.

    Look forward to see them soon in Denmark.

  6. 6
    Woodruff P. Hoppinstopp says:

    Seen Purple many times with Ritchie and Steve always exciting crowd on their feet stage rush good times. We willbe at Uriah Heeps June 19 2010 U.S A first heep show. should be fun 600 seat venue musicians are like wine. and music is the foutain of youth.

  7. 7
    Louis in Virginia USA says:

    First of all, major thanks go out to Daniel for taking the time to do this – THANKS MAN. As to the posting, it affects me in a similar way to “Made in England” above. The only thing that disturbs me is the original author’s treatment of Big Ian. I’m older than dirt and have been a DP fan since 1968 before Gillan joined. I have followed the band throughout their entire career and, unlike some, I find them just as relevent today as I ever have. To me, Gillan is a master performer of the hard rock genre, always has been, and remains so today. I hope he continues until he is 110 years old (big smile).

  8. 8
    Daniel says:

    Louis, just for your information, I didn’t write the review, I only forwarded it to this website. It was originally featured on Entertainment Africa’s website and written by a Taryn Cantor.

  9. 9
    Crimson Ghost says:

    I’ve seen this enough here to know when the author is acting coy. It’s amusing everytime, and so easy to make out.

  10. 10
    Roberto says:

    most people says uriah heep are now better than purple….I saw both purple and uriah last months and I can say this is true…they have more energy and you can see happines and satisfaction in their faces…probably the new drummer brought new life as happened for deep purple with steve morse firstly and don airey secondly…
    but deep purple at their best as no equals….this is sure…

  11. 11
    Louis in Virginia USA says:

    Woops, I’m sorry Daniel. I was intending to thank whomever it was that took the time to transcribe the review “(s)ince the site is barely usable (for starters, the font on my screen is so small that it is unreadable and I can’t change it as the whole page is in Flash), I took the liberty of reproducing the review here verbatim.” If that was not you, then my thanks go out to whomever did this tedious and time consuming work. Thanks!!!

  12. 12
    Louis in Virginia USA says:

    Thanks for your input, Roberto. I never had the good fortune to see Uriah Heep in their heyday (nor recently for that matter). I hope they come to the States (anywhere near Virginia would be a bonus) and I would try to see them if possible. I sure loved their sound in the 70s.

  13. 13
    MrPtheDPfan says:

    19,000 fans . That’s some real money . I think that settles the relevance question. But the best line in this one was that Roger Glover looks like a cross between Willie Nelson and Hulk Hogan . Now that’s funny .

  14. 14
    Crimson Ghost says:

    Roberto, it’s a case of so what, but thanks for opining. Perhaps Purple need to grow some handlebars around their lips. lol!

  15. 15
    dave smith says:

    Uriah Heep=Spinal tap! The singer has a gun holster for his mic for gods sake! and the bass player is the spitting image of Derek smalls from Tap! Also two of the songs they play during their shows bear more than a slight resemblance to purples. Im afraid im not sure of their names, but ones intro is a direct rip off of child in time and anothers chorus is na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na-Hush anyone?!
    They are good at what they do, but for me Im afraid Purple stand head and shoulders above them. They are just a little cliched and cheesy for my tastes!
    Purple were rocking in Joburg, but be warned if you are heading out there for the world cup-safe is not a word I would use to describe this place!
    It was also rather strange to not see 1 black face in the cwowd, it was a solely white audience….

  16. 16
    BlackSparrow says:

    Not to rain on the parade but a BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY GOES OUT TO JON LORD, for if it were not for him and that other chap there would be no DEEP PURPLE or all the other off shoots of bands that now exist.

  17. 17
    T says:

    Very few “classic rock” groups are still around touring and making albums (although Deep Purple has lost the latter distinction). Despite the fact that age is now becoming a factor, these survivors continue to pull in large crowds thirty or more years after the fact.

    It could be argued that nostalgia plays a role in the success of these groups, and given that much of the audience is made up of “people with grey hair,” the point is well taken. However, the audiences also contain a large amount of younger people, including NEW fans. Indeed, age diversity is a characterstic of a Purple show. With that in mind, the influence these groups have cannot be so easily dismissed.

    Current popular music will see a resurgence in twenty or thirty years as the youth of today re-live their younger years, just as 80’s music enjoys a rebirth today. But how many will still be touring and making records? How many of today’s artists are so groundbreaking that their work will remain a staple in three or more decades? Quite frankly, I cannot see the rappers of today making recordings in 2040.

    When Purple formed in 1968, blues-based prog rock was in its infancy as the band struggled to find an identity, exploring pop covers and long jams on the same album. But when In Rock surfaced in 1970, the music found a definition so profound that if it were released today it would be as relevant as it was when it was recorded. Machine Head also continues to reverberate today. One definition of a “classic” is that the work is timeless. Certainly Purple posseses that characteristic.

    Deep Purple is currently in its twilight. That notwithstanding, they could quit TODAY–or could never have re-formed in the first place–and they still would remain one of the most profound innovators of rock music.

    Ritchie Blackmore in particular defined the term “rock god”. There isn’t a rock guitarist around who has not been influenced in some way by Ritchie Blackmore. The same point could be made of the vocal technique of Ian Gillan, the drumming of Ian Paice, the Hammond organ playing of Jon Lord…

    It is not a question of Deep Purple being relevant TODAY. They are ALREADY relevant–and they will continue to be so–based on the huge body of influential work produced over the decades. The fact that the group still remains active is just icing on the cake.

  18. 18
    John Bartone says:

    Long Live the Morse Era!!!

  19. 19
    AndreA says:

    HEY! THEHIGHWAYSTAR.COM HAS FORGOTTEN TO REMEMBER AND WRITE AND WISHES THE BEST TO

    JON LORD

    BECAUSE TODAY 9JULY IS HIS BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DEAR JON LORD,
    BEST WISHES TO YOU AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    I “LOVE” YOU!!!!

    CHEERS

  20. 20
    stoffer says:

    @12 Louis, Uriah Heep are in the states they will be in St. Louis June 24 playing a casino bar (not exactly 19,000 people but at least they’re here). Tickets start at $40 so they are getting the same as DP last time I saw them. FYI
    Cheers

  21. 21
    AndreA says:

    sorry

    I wanted mean

    9 JUNE

  22. 22
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Must have been a typo, Andrea?
    Hehehe
    Must have been because the weather in Italy tops what we get over here…..

    I enjoyed URIAH HEEP immensely for a few gigs with the later incarnation, minus the new drummer.

    But I ll always favour the David Byron and Ken Hensley era.

    First of all David was in the same league as Gillan, Coverdale, DIO, and so on.
    Well, IMHO.
    Even John Lawton was another stand out singer who, IMHO, never got enough recognition.

    Ken Hensley was THE COMPOSER of loads of classics still played today.
    He even played guitar and could sing quite well.
    The nowadays keyboardplayer does a acceptable job but is really not comparable.

    One might say that URIAH HEEP is the weak copy, a poormans Purple one already suggested in the 70 s, of DP.
    Personally I always preferred DP as long the core of Blackmore, Paice and lord were in the band.

    I never was that passionate about Heep compared to DP and off shoots.

    In their double live lp URIAH HEEP LIVE 1973 I read a clipping that a certain journalist would commit suicide if Heep would ever make it.

    Does anyone know what happened to her?

    I could respect her not liking the band but saying they copied Led Zeppelin I never understood.
    Maybe because Heep did lots af acoustic guitar as well?

    Indeed, comparing to DP seems to fit more, I think.
    Mainly because they also did and do the guitar and keyboard format, and always had a singer doing or trying the LEADVOCALIST format.

    I must admit I cant recall his name right now, which is a shame probably,…… but did they not try out a Coverdale look a like in the early 80 s which after that tried his once again bad luck with Gary Moore?

    I know they had Pete Goalby in the band for a period but the other one that did not make it only resounds by image in my head.

    Live they were and are very able to display elements so strongly a part of the original Heep sound.
    No real, ahem, annoying element here IMO.
    But I feel they lost the X factor after Hensleys leaving.
    His WRITING was what Ritchie brought to the table with DP.

    Both bands have tried to soldier on and in a way they have done a great job I must say.
    They kept making an acceptable live outfit that although never really matching the real thing gave lots of enjoyment to both old and newer fans.
    Personally I ve not been able to neglect certain things.

    In general I think and hope newer fans will in the end acknowledge where it all came from and not stay in the thinking frame nowadays line ups are the real thing.

    Both Heep and Purple would never have recorded the classics they are still performing if Blackmore and Hensley would not have been such great composing talents.

    Its always a tricky puzzle why one is ABLE TO enjoy a certain act which changed almost all of its original members and loath a certain other band which has done more or less the same.

    One cant predict the future.

    Who would predict neo liberal right would win the elections last night over here while they represent the world of bankers and other wreckers?

    Why reward people that were essential in creating the basics for disaster?

    The outcome is a misty and muddy thing.

    Will people in 2040 really rate DP albums with Morse and Airey as high as the albums from the 70 s?

  23. 23
    Roberto says:

    I saw uria heep two times:2002 AND 2010…i PREFERRED THE 2002 SHOW WITH A LONGER SET, SOLOS, IMPROVISATIONS AND THE BIG LEE KERSLAKE ON DRUMS…BUT WHAT ALWAYS IMPRESSED ME IS THE BASS PLAYER TREVOR BOLDER (do you remember Bowie spiders from mars line up?).I THINK HE IS ONE OF THE BEST BASS PLAYER OF THE STORY…

  24. 24
    Louis in Virginia USA says:

    Stoffer, thanks for the info. St. Louis is a looooong way from Virginia (big smile) but I did not kow they were touring the states. I’ll check out their touring schedule and maybe (I hope) they will be coming someplace closer. Thanks for the tip – it’s much appreciated.

  25. 25
    Louis in Virginia USA says:

    LOL, Andrea – funny mess up but you don’t sound mean!

  26. 26
    Louis in Virginia USA says:

    To purplepriest1965, I understand what you are saying and do respect your view. With that said, music appreciation is so subjective. From my perspective, Morse brought a new energy and freshness to the band. In fact, I think “Purpendicular” and “Rapture of the Deep” stand up very well to any other DP recordings. Just one guys opinion. Perhaps I am weird, lol, because my favorite from the Mark II era is “Fireball” and most people don’t share that opinion. I did hear or read (can’t remember now – happens when you start aging) that Gillan also thinks “Fireball” is one of the best.

  27. 27
    AndreA says:

    purplepriest

    It has been because growing with the tales from Rainbow and Dio,often I live above the clouds…
    Believe me: as time passes I get more and more dizzy,I have only to decide when getting worried for my mental health..

    :-O

    ciao!

  28. 28
    stoffer says:

    priest@22 In 2040??? I don’t think they will really give a shit, do you honestly??

  29. 29
    AndreA says:

    stoffer @28

    priest would mean:

    people will appreciate in 2040 the DP’s stuff with Morse
    at the same as we did/do with DP’s stuff from 70’s?

  30. 30
    purplepriest1965 says:

    @ 29

    I m sorry Andrea

    I meant to imply or say that it will NOT happen that both eras will be regarded in the same way.

    Ofcourse I m no clairvoyant but what do you think whick track will still exite loads of new youngsters in 2040…….

    Child In Time or Sometimes I feel Like Screaming?

    Cheers, Mark who drowns his Deep Purple depression by swimming in Y and T waters……

    HANG HIM HIGH, BURN TOGETHER!!!!!

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