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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aged Band Uriah Heep To Play Gig In Moscow

In the Soviet Union, the British hard rock band Uriah Heep attracted a large following -- not least of all because of its great name.

Not that the band's Russian fans remembered the obsequious character from Charles Dickens' novel "David Copperfield." They just thought it sounded a lot like the word "hippy," pronounced heepy in Russian.

"It's a name you don't forget," Lee Kerslake, Uriah Heep's gray-haired drummer and the oldest member of the 29-year-old band, said in an interview Monday at Moscow's Chesterfield Cafe. "It's got strength, it's got character and it's carried us a long way through."

For Kerslake and the rest of the band, who have been to Moscow four times before, their arrival Monday brought back memories of their 1987 concerts in the Soviet capital.

"The first visit was great, it was outstanding. We had never been here in our lives, and then we came," Kerslake, 51, said. "We played to 180,000 people in 12 days."

Kerslake acknowledged that he doesn't expect as many people to attend the band's concert Wednesday.

The concert is to take place in the Moscow Youth Palace, a much smaller venue compared to the Olympic Sports Complex, where the band performed in 1987.

But Kerslake, who once played with the legendary Ozzy Osborne and has written several of Uriah Heep's songs, said he is not upset that their fans have decreased in number.

"I don't care where we play, whether it's 1,000 or 20,000 as long as when we finish, they go away happy and want us back," Kerslake said.

Uriah Heep performed Saturday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where Kerslake said the band was warmly greeted by the local audience.

"[Almaty] was great, it was lively and it had a free spirit in it, like everywhere around the world," he said.

Kerslake said he does not feel threatened by newer trends in music. "Our music has changed; it became a lot more progressive, but we are still trying to keep the vein of an old rock but with a new attitude. So we can outplay any kind of techno music," Kerslake said.

He said the band's new sound can be heard on Uriah Heep's newest album, "Sonic Origami," which will be released in September.

Pyotr Smirnov of Talent Concert International, the band's Russian promoter, said the core of the audience at the band's Almaty concert was "30-year-old guys with mobile phones who wanted to recall their youth."

"Old good rock 'n' roll will never lose its audience," he added. "When we brought them in 1996, both concerts were a hit."

But some of those old fans who were devoted to Uriah Heep in their school years have already lost touch.

"It is a prehistoric band. Back then there was nothing, and it was one of the groups you were supposed to listen to," said Anton Khodakovsky, 25. "Today I don't listen to them, but I still respect them."

Uriah Heep plays Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Moscow Youth Palace, 28 Komsomolsky Prospekt. Nearest metro: Frunzenskaya.