Monday, March 23, 2015

Concert Review: Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California


It is always cool to see bands that you have been listening to for years for the first time, and last Saturday (March 14, 2015) I was able to kill two birds with one stone when I caught Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California.

The Saban Theatre is a really cool place to see a show. This Art-Deco 1900-seat venue opened in 1930 as the Fox Wilshire Theatre as one of 20th Century Fox’s premiere theatres. In 1981 the theatre was converted to a stage venue, and it was renamed about 5 years ago after a generous donation from the Saban family.

First up for the 9:00PM start was Uriah Heep, who have been rocking since they formed in London in 1969. Though their line-up has changed a bit since then, the original guitarist Mick Box is still hanging in there. He was joined by frontman Bernie Shaw, Phil Lanzon on keys, Russell Gilbroom on drums and Davey Rimmer on bass. They are touring in support of the 24th album, Outsider, and they played 13 songs in a 50-minute set for the fairly enthusiastic crowd.

Heep brought their A-game on Saturday and all of the pieces came together. Shaw has an incredible animal magnetism, and he can still wail with the best of them as he approaches the dreaded age of 60. Gilbroom’s drums were thunderous, and Rimmer joined him for a rock solid backline. Box is a good guitarist, but his solos became a bit tedious as the evening went on, as he seemed to play the same solo in every song. They finished on a strong note with “Lady in Black”, and took it a step further with their encore of “Gypsy” and “Easy Livin’.” They really got the mail delivered and I would see them again in a heartbeat. By the way, I got to meet up with the band after the show, and they are down to earth guys who do not mind mixing it up with their fans.

After this there was a way too chaotic stage change that took about ½ hour, and Blue Oyster Cult took the stage.

Blue Oyster Cult has also been around forever, having cranked out their first album in 1972. The New York-based band still has one original member, Donald “Buck Dharma” Rosier, and the rest of the band includes long-time singer Eric Bloom, Kasim Sulton on bass, Richie Castellano on keys and guitar and Jules Radino behind the drum kit.

And it was a rough night for BOC. The sound was off, and it was apparent from the git-go that Radino was having trouble with his monitors. When the drummer cannot hear what is going on, that is big trouble, but fortunately he is a good drummer and settled into his own groove and the band caught up with him after a few songs. Also, Rosier was having trouble with his pedalboard that led to a tech coming onstage to fix it in the middle of a song. They need to get a better plan for doing a quick stage change after the opening band clears out.

Anyway, their 12-song set was entertaining enough, and they included the expected hits, including “Burning for You,” “Godzilla, and “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” Suprisingly, they did not save the latter for the encore, going with “Hot Rails to Hell” and “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll” instead. This is not how I would have done it, but it worked out pretty well.

The Cult’s show was a bit on the lazy side (actually, they phoned it in), with the standout performers being Kasim Sulton and Richie Castellano. These two have talent galore and good stage presence, and they should start shopping themselves around as they can do a lot better than this. I will not be seeing Blue Oyster Cult again – once was enough for me.

Any, if Uriah Heep comes to town make sure you try to see their show, it will be worth every penny!



  1. I saw BOC in 2000 for the first time in upstate N.Y. in a now defunct resort theatre. they had 3 original members, except the bass and drums. they were very good, there was no opening band to contend with.

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