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Live Music Review: Saxon & Uriah Heep Spring 2024 at The Plaza Orlando

Yes, it’s back to the 70’s and I’m a rocker from that decade! It’s funny when I go to the The Plaza in Orlando to see a show, I see that same faces. In fact, this old guy came into the crowded bathroom and shouts “I’m sick of seeing all you old guys at these shows!” - it was hilarious. Now back to the show, Saxon formed in Barnsley England in 1975. They were one of the pioneers of British heavy metal in the 70’s & 80’s with bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Saxon had a lot of success in the UK with Top 40 albums credited to their name. They also had success in Europe and Japan, however less so in the USA. Now Uriah Heep’s origins reach back to 1969. They were big pioneers in the progressive rock movement and hard rock, at times reminding me of Deep Purple. And of course, as expected today they still enjoy hard core fans in the Balkans, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Finland and Scandinavia. Even though America phased this music out of the mainstream consciousness 30 years ago, countries in Europe and Asia still consume heavy metal music with an insatious appetite.

The first to take the stage was Saxon which delivered a powerful blow of Marshal stacks and flying v guitars. I was very impressed how good they sounded and the fact they were using real Marshall amps on stage. So many of their counterparts today use modeling amps through the PA system, which is not the same heart beating thrust of guitar in your face that real tubes and stacks of amp cabinets deliver to the audience. They kicked it off with songs from their new release apply named Hell, Fire And Damnation with tracks as the title track, “Madame Guillotine” and “There's Something in Roswell”. They also reached back in their history playing such classics as “Wheels of Steel”, “747 (Strangers in the Night)”, “Heavy Metal Thunder” and “Denim and Leather”. I had never been a big follower of Saxon just because USA AOR radio really didn’t play much of their music. However, with that said I am a fan now as the metal sound waves took me over! After an intermission break Uriah Heep took the stage, however with only one original member left in the band which is guitarist and founder Mick Box. Demons and Wizards was the most successful album they had released in America reaching #23 on the Billboard Top 200 charts in 1972. They ripped into fan favorites as, "Gypsy", "Easy Livin'", "The Wizard", "Sweet Lorraine", and "Stealin'". The singer Bernie Shaw had a set of pipes on him that really took the songs to a higher level. In contrast to Saxon, their amps were not to be found on stage, assuming they were going through amp simulators. Still the energy was good in the crowd, however a little less on fire than Saxon’s set earlier. All the same Uriah Heep put on a good show and it proofed to be a real double header of UK 70’s hard rock!

Multi-Emmy award winning Brian Tarquin is an established top rate composer/guitarist/producer. Through the past 30 years he has enjoyed Top 10 radio hits in several formats. His recent release "Beyond The Warrior's Eyes" went #1 on the Roots Music Reports Top 50 Fusion Albums. His music has been heard by tens of millions on a plethora of television and film scores.
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