New York City is always a hotbed of great live music, but over the last few years it's gotten a bit stagnant as the same acts keep coming back a tad too often, and it's been a while since we've had any real surprises hit the area. Well, that's all about to change in June, as on two successive nights, the legendary Uriah Heep and Three Friends are making their way into BB Kings in Times Square.
First up, on June 21st, are Three Friends, playing the music of Gentle Giant. In case you are not aware, Three Friends are comprised of former Gentle Giant members Gary Green (guitar) and Malcolm Mortimore (drums), who are joined by bassist Roger Carey, guitarist Andy Williams, singer Mick Wilson, and keyboard player John Donaldson. Three Friends also had in its ranks until recently original GG keyboard player Kerry Minnear, but he dropped out recently. It would have been nice to see Kerry with the band as well (making it a full THREE FRIENDS), but all accounts are that the current line-up is red hot and covers the classic GG material in fine fashion. Honestly folks, seeing as the Shulman brothers have repeatedly stated that they are not interested in a Gentle Giant reunion, this is the closest we are going to get to seeing GG on stage again. I've been a fan of the band for a long time now, and other than a Genesis reunion with Gabriel & Hackett, a Gentle Giant reunion has always been #2 on my list when the question comes up "What band would you most like to see get back together?"
If you are a fan of albums like Three Friends, In a Glass House, Octopus, Power and the Glory, Free Hand, Acquiring the Taste, and the like, you'll have to make sure you get a hold of a ticket for this evening and make your way down to BB Kings in Times Square for this very special event. Progressive rock fans are sure to be in for a treat!
However, it might also be a good idea to book a hotel room and stay over for an extra night, as on the following evening (June 22nd) the veteran hard rock/prog act Uriah Heep, make their way over from England for a night of Hammond organ & guitar histrionics. I've not seen the Heep since 1982 in Poughkeepsie, NY, when they opened for Blue Oyster Cult at the Mid Hudson Civic Center, touring in support of their Head First album. That was a long time and many line-ups ago, so it will be great to see this classic band once again.
Currently, Uriah Heep has had pretty much the same line-up for close to 20 years, and they are riding high on their Wake the Sleeper CD from 2008, which was a great return to form. Still led by the charismatic founder Mick Box on guitar, Heep also features longtime members Phil Lanzon (keyboards), Trevor Bolder (bass), Bernie Shaw (vocals), and the only new member, drummer Russell Gilbrook, who replaced the ill Lee Kerslake a few years ago. The band still plays plenty of old favorites, such as "Easy Livin' ", "July Morning", "Stealin' ", "Gypsy", "Look at Yourself" and many others, and they mix in some of the stronger material from the latest release for what all recent accounts have stated to be stellar concerts.
Uriah Heep have only played here in the US on rare occasions over the last 20-30 years, so this surprise appearance in New York is destined to be a packed show. If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, it's probably a good idea to do so now. You won't want to miss out on the abundance of screaming guitar licks and raging Hammond organ that's going to be on display.
Two nights, two concerts filled with vintage songs that all us hard rock and prog lovers care about deeply. Hope to see you all there!