Metal Legends Saxon’s ‘Wheels of Steel’ roll into Tampa with Uriah Heep

Live Review

Bernie Shaw of Uriah Heep. Photo by Chyrisse.

By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Journalist/Photographer & Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Editor/Photographer

Live Review: Uriah Heep and Saxon at Seminole Hard Rock, Tampa, FL – April 24, 2024

 No One Dies, But Saxons Followed Uriahs and All Was Left In A Heep!

Let’s go back in time. The year was 1968, I had recently finished my freshman year in high school. I had a snazzy new record player that looked like a brown leather suitcase when put together, but the two end pieces came off and I could take them about six feet each, or the opposite sides of my room. Stereo! I was also working, surreptitiously, at the store my Dad ran, a private department store about the size of a K-Mart called Brite-Way Sales. Now up until I entered high school, my music selections were pretty much parentally controlled, but since I started working openly in the store, I started picking up albums and singles on my own – at a discount! I discovered bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf, Deep Purple, Yes, and in 1970, I bought the first Uriah Heep album: … VERY ‘EAVY … VERY ‘UMBLE. From the first chords of “Gypsy” I was hooked! I wore out the albums I bought, Salisbury, Look at Yourself, Demons and Wizards, The Magician’s Birthday, Sweet Freedom, and Wonderworld, but things were changing both for myself and for the band. I got married, then divorced. Albums were no longer something I spent money on. Worst of all, David Byron, Uriah Heep’s lead singer, died.

In 1978, I entered the military for a short stint, came out into a new musical world, or so it seemed. By 1980 I’d been introduced to newer metal, notably Judas Priest, Accept, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and AC/DC. And Saxon! I was in a couple bands around that time, actually sang some of the music I’d listened to. Got married again, worked a photography job for a few years, started a business, and started working as a DJ, mostly doing weddings. Not much call for heavy metal/hard rock there, though every once in awhile I had the unusual wedding where I got to play music I liked! Did one for a member of a local metal band, their first dance was to “Smooth Up In Ya” by the Bulletboys!

Okay, fast forward (don’t want to bore you) and I was doing photography on weekends for Born to Ride motorcycle magazine, and getting to see more rock bands, and shortly afterward (2017) started here!

Bernie Shaw of Uriah Heep. Photo by Chyrisse.

Son now I keep an eye out for bands I’d like to see. Well lookee here, two of my favorite younger-days bands are stopping right here at the Hard Rock, mere minutes from my domicile! Of course, the editor wanted to see them too, so we both went!

Of course, I was curious to compare the Uriah Heep of 1970-1976 to today’s band, with only Mick Box on lead guitar remaining of the originals. Being a singer myself, I’m always curious to hear how well voices have held up over the years, or replacement voices compare to the originals.

Now in Uriah Heep’s case, the vocals were being handled by Bernie Shaw, not exactly a newbie, having joined the band in 1987. I’d say 37 years almost qualifies him as an original member, and David Byron wouldn’t be ashamed of him as a successor. Unfortunately, the sound mix wasn’t up to the task, the sound was a bit muddy and the vocals were overwhelmed by the instruments. It got better as the night went along, so I’m hoping that’s something that will improve as the tour builds steam.

Mick Box of Uriah Heep. Photo by Chyrisse.

Mick Box, who somewhat reminded me of Geddy Lee in appearance, hasn’t slowed down a bit. His guitar magic is still the standard most other guitarists aim for, and you could tell he was having a great time and interacting with the audience more than most guitar players.

Dave Rimmer on Bass and Russell Gilbrook on drums are 15+ year veterans making up the rhythm section of Uriah Heep. They make a good team and keep the backing beats on track.

Adam Wakeman of Uriah Heep. Photo by Chyrisse.

A new edition is Adam Wakeman on keys. Well, new to Uriah Heep! Wakeman has often collaborated with his rather well-known father, Rick Wakeman. He was most recently in Ozzy Osbourne’s band; he also played keyboards and guitar off-stage for Black Sabbath. Wakeman has also worked with Annie Lennox, Travis, the Company of Snakes, Strawbs, Will Young, Victoria Beckham, Atomic Kitten, Martin Barre and Deep Purple. While he may be the new kid on the block in this band, he’s no rookie!

Their set – and by the way, the bands are co-headliners, so they’ll be switching off who opens/closes, and their sets are approximately equal length – kicked off with “Save Me Tonight” and “Grazed by Heaven,” then mixed in classics “Rainbow Demon” and “Stealin,’” followed by “Hurricane,” back to “Sweet Lorraine,” then “Hail the Sunrise” and “Free ‘n’ Easy,” ending with more classic hits: “Gypsy, Look at Yourself,” and “July Morning.” Of course, that wasn’t enough, they encored with “Sunrise” and finally, a must-play, “Easy Livin’!”

Biff Byford of Saxon. Photo by Chyrisse.

“Hell, Fire & Chaos – The Best Of British Rock & Metal,” is the title of the United States tour by the two British Legends. I’m not sure where the chaos part comes in, but Saxon kicked their set off with a newer track, “Hell, Fire and Damnation!” Whatever sound issues affected Heep’s set, they were straightened out by this time! Vocalist and original band founder Peter “Biff” Byford came through loud and clear, and was hitting the high notes like a teenager! Quite the accomplishment after 47 years of powerhouse rocking. I’ve heard Ronnie James Dio referred to as “the last of the leather lungs,” but Byford is going strong 14 years after Dio moved on. What’s interesting is Byford could easily be mistaken for someone from Britain’s House of Lords, he has a classic royal look to him, appropriate for the king of metal!

Nibbs Carter.Photo by Chyrisse.

Nigel Glockler, who joined the band in 1981 after their original drummer injured his hand, is still slapping the skins with aplomb, though he took a short hiatus in the early 2000s. In 1988, bassist Tim “Nibbs” Carter joined the band, and manages to look like a “younger player who recently joined the band” – a quote from Chyrisse! Note that it’s not just looks giving that impression, his energy was a standout on the stage, fooling me as well into thinking he was in his 30s, which would make him a toddler when he started with the band. I’m sure it’s due to clean living, right?

Doug Scarratt joined up in 1994, making it 30 years he’s been with them, and after 45 years with original guitarist Paul Quinn, his retirement left them seeking a “new” guitarist for their tours, whom they found in Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler, who started his Riff Lord duties with them in the late 1970s! A couple of years ago, Diamond Head toured with Saxon, and Tatler was originally going to be a temporary touring replacement, but he fit the role so well that he’s staying with them and contributed to their latest album.

Doug Scarratt of Saxon. Photo by Chyrisse.

After kicking things off with “Hell, Fire and Damnation,” the band expressed their pleasure at being back in Tampa with “This Town Rocks,” slipping quickly into “Sacrifice” and “The Power and the Glory.”A nod to the aliens with “There’s Something in Roswell,” followed up by “Heavy Metal Thunder,” a song which may be a subconscious tribute to Steppenwolf, as the line comes from their biggest hit, “Born to be Wild’s” lyrics:

[2nd verse]

I like smoke and lightnin’

Heavy metal thunder

Racing with the wind

And the feeling that I’m under

Following that, we heard in rapid succession “Madame Guillotine, Dallas 1 PM, Motorcycle Man, Crusader, and Broken Heroes.” We were then treated to the live debut of “Witches of Salem,” followed by “Denim and Leather” and “ Wheels of Steel.” As you can see, just like Steppenwolf, the biker theme runs through their music as well, so the lyric and song “Heavy Metal Thunder” may be just part of the theme. Naturally, they ended the night with an encore, “Princess of the Night,” a song that almost single-handedly confirms Saxon as the absolute riff masters. The emotion as Byford tells the story of the steam-powered mail trains of old is infectious, and more than forty years on, just like the Princess herself, the song remains the undisputed live favorite.



The tour just started, so make sure you catch them on one of the stops across the United States!

Hell, Fire, and Chaos will be in:

Saturday 27th April – Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theatre

Sunday 28th April – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom

Tuesday 30th April –  Morgantown, WV – The Metropolitan Theatre

Wednesday 1st May – Pittsburgh, PA – Roxian Theatre

Thursday 2nd May – Jim Thorpe, PA – Penn’s Peak

Friday 3rd May – Englewood, NJ – Bergen Performing Arts Center

Sunday 5th May – Boston, MA – Citizens House of Blues

Tuesday 7th May – Long Island, NY – Patchogue Theatre

Wednesday 8th May – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre

Friday 10th May – Peekskill, NY – Paramount Hudson Valley Arts

Saturday 11th May – Cleveland, OH – TempleLive

Sunday 12th May – Elkhart, IN – Lerner Theatre

Monday 13th May – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s Hall

Tuesday 14th May – Grand Rapids, MI – GLC Live at 20 Monroe

Thursday 16th May – Marietta, OH – People’s Bank Theatre

Friday 17th May – Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s

Saturday 18th May – Joliet, IL – Rialto Square Theatre

Sunday 19th May – St. Charles, IL – Arcada Theatre

Tuesday 21st May – Nashville, IN – Brown County Music Center

Wednesday 22nd May – Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theater

Friday 24th May – Springfield, MO – Gillioz Theatre

Saturday 25th May – Wichita, KS – TempleLive at Scottish Rite Center

Monday 27th May – Cedar Park, Texas – Haute Spot

Wednesday 29th May – Houston, TX – House Of Blues

Thursday 30th May – San Antonio, TX – Tobin Center

Friday 31st May – Dallas, TX – Glass Cactus

Sunday 2nd June  – El Paso, TX – Speaking Rock Casino


Band Links: Uriah Heep



Brent Michael

Forest Live Festival – UK

Forest Live Festival – UK

Manchester Psych Fest – UK

Manchester Psych Fest – UK

Totally Tubular Festival

Totally Tubular Festival