We only had to enter the pub on Friday night when I heard someone calling my name. A guy that was completely unkown to me, came to shake my hand. Fortunately he introduced himself as Bill Smith and that name rang a bell. We had only exchanged a couple of letters but I had never seen his picture. I was curious of how did he recognize me? This was just the beginning of what went on through all night. Before I had met only Rodrigo Werneck, Graham Hulme and Richard Wagner (and naturally the Finnish Heepsters Jyrki Usva and Tina Solda) so it was great to finally meet in person those with whow Iíd been in contact only by e-mail before.
People kept asking me: " Whereís Rodrigo?" but I didnít know, I just answered that he must be still at the hotel. Probably the idea was to keep the people waiting for a few hours before arriving to make the entrance more impressive. Finally also he arrived.
At the pub I was standing and talking with Dave White when a guy came to us and asked: "Is Tapio here?" Dave replied to him immediately without the wink of an eye: "No, he couldnít make it". The guy turned away and that left me wondering what this was about. He looked familiar, I was sure I had seen his face before so I knew he must have been one of the Heepsters. Was he then looking for me or was there another Tapio at the vention? Eventually it turned out that it was Bob Winward and he was indeed looking for me. Well I thought that since I had my UHAS card with name written on it hanging from my neck, I would have been easy to recognize but apparently Bob had been expecting someone with completely different appearance.
Itís a good thing that pubs in London usually close so early so we got at least some sleep during the following night. Saturday morning was busy because Satu had to go to work and Enrico had to get all their stuff ready for the removal before we could go to The Corrib Rest. Enricoís friend was coming early on Sunday morning with a van to pick them up.
We had to get some food (and beer) and I volunteered to go to the supermarket. It seemed like a very simple thing to do but I soon found out that going to a supermarket in another country is not that easy, especially if itís run by immigrants and full of I must have spent about an hour walking to and fro trying to decide what to buy: "Is this good?", "How do you prepare this for food?" and "What is this?". Finally I got the basic stuff like bread, butter, cheese, ham bought and I took some kinds of steaks. The only thing where I had no difficulties choosing was the beer: ale, lager, stout etc. have belonged to my vocabulary closely for a long time. By theway, someone had told me that you cannot buy Weizen Bier - the official Heepsters beer - in London. This is not true, I found cans of "Bavaria - Genuine German Wheat Beer" at the supermarker for 89p!
After we had had our lunch and Satu had finished at work, we headed for the Heepvention. When we arrived at the ??? tube station, it turned out that he had no idea where to go from there. Since I was as guest here, I had trusted on Enrico to take care of the "orientation" so I didnít bring the instructions or maps with me. He went to the ticket salesman to ask for directions and the guy turned out to be a rel joker: First he said he had no idea how ot get to the Corrib Rest but then he laughed and said: "They all went that way" pointing the direction. Obviously we went the first Heepsters here! Approaching the Corrib Rest it was easy to see why the guy knew who we were, it seemed like there was a real Heepsters invasion with different styles of Heep t-shirts and other clothing.
The meeting last night at the pub had already been so great that I had thought that it will be a great weekend if the rest of the convention is going to be the same at least at the same level. Well it was! Two days with nothing but Heep, meeting more old friends, making lots of new ones, it was a pleasure just to wander around in both of the rooms. It was simply a great feeling to know that everyone was there for one cause: Uriah Heep. You certainly didnít need to think hard for a subject to start a conversation. Those who were also there, know what Iím talking about because Iím sure that everyone sensed that same feeling of togetherness and friendship. The journey would have been worth making only for the athomsphere.
The guys showed that they all are real professionals in that they managed the pull the set of in spite of the fact that they had very little time to rehearse together before the concert. Also the songs were also mostly those that none of these guys have played live for a long time. I did notice a couple of mistakes here and there: In the beginning of the first song "Itís Up To You" Ken started singing the first verse too early when Reuben was still playing the guitar intro, Reuben did his countermove in "July Morning" when he started the guitar riff when Ken was still playing, Paul Newton sang something completely different than the chorus when doing backup vocals on "Itís Up To You", John Lawton mixed up the lyrics in some places etc. These were of course just minor ones and didnít in anyway disturb the enjoyment.
On our way to we notice advertisments at magazine stands saying: KEN IS LONDONíS NEW MAYOR. For a moment I think that people have reacted pretty strongly to the Hensley/Lawton Band concert yesterday but Satu tells me itís not Hensley but some other Ken. We arrive at Corrib Rest just in time to watch the last 15minutes of the Formula One Grand Pix. There are several TV sets in the pub and the others show football or horse racing but we couldnít care less for that. Our Finnish table (Jyrki & Tina were already there) is following the race with passion. Mika Hškkinen wons the race - of course - and we celebrate while "the natives" are lookig at as quite amused. I guess in Britain Formula One racing is not that popular. In Finland you at least have to pretend youíre interested in it, the same goes with ice hockey too.
First up was the questions and answers sessions. In the beginning Ken shows that he could pass as a Finn when he asks us who won. I hear someone shouting: "Mika Hškkinen" at a very loud voice. Then I notice itís me! Before I know it, Iím up on my feet and on my way to the stage to explain Ken more about the race.
When the actual session gets started after this incident, it proves to be really rewarding. Ken seemed to be - as always - very honest in his answers even though some of them were clearly not that pleasant. John had some great funny stories and again he proved to be complete different than what I had imagined beforehand.
Later on Gunhill did a very good set mixing Heep songs, songs from other bands from Lawtonís career, cover versions as well as their original songs. Lawton messed up the lyrics in "Lady In Black" (on purpose?) so Hensley stepped behind the microphone for this song. He seems to be the only one who can sing the lyrics correctly, even Bernie Shaw doesnít get them quite right. The special treat was to hear the last choruses sung in Portuguese instead of the usual English by Mr. Rodrigo Werneck.