Ken Hensley in Bratislava (December 13, 2012)
In the end of 2012 Ken Hensley toured in Russia, performing solo concerts in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities. On December 13 he played the same setlist in Bratislava, Slovakia, and the show was recorded by Slovak Radio for broadcasting. Eugen Prochác, a renowned Slovak cellist, played with Ken on three songs. The show was broadcasted on February 22 and March 1, 2013.
- Free Me
- Longer Shadows
- I Don’t Wanna Wait
- The Wizard
- Wise Man
- Through the Eyes of a Child
- Rain (with Eugen Prochác)
- Come to Me (with Eugen Prochác)
- July Morning
- Slippin’ Away
- I Close My Eyes (with Eugen Prochác)
- Lady in Black
The Bratislava concert was based on the same principle as in Russia — the two-hour show in which Ken not only played his songs but also talked with the audience, answering their questions and telling stories related to the creation of the songs.
Ken Hensley: Generally speaking, what happens is, when I am writing a new song, as the song develops in my head, it kind of says to me that it wants to be written on the piano or it wants to be written on the guitar. It’s absolutely true that the songs that I write on guitar are rather different from the songs I write on the piano. But usually when I’m starting to write a song that’s when I make a decision which instrument I’m gonna write it on. So, you know, I like to play guitar, I like to play piano. It’s just that it really depends on the song.
I’ve often been asked what was my favourite Uriah Heep album or my favourite Uriah Heep song. And these always questions that are almost impossible for me to answer. But the one thing I can tell you is that among my favourite periods of time with Uriah Heep was the period of time when we were recording “Demons & Wizards”. It was like a special time. The band was really connected, and we were communicating great, and I think we were making some of our best music then.
Question: Can an artist write a really good song if he’s sober?
Ken Hensley: It is a common kind of myth that writers have to be drunk or stoned to write great stuff, but I really don’t think that’s true. I mean, there’s gonna come a time when you either drink too much, or take too much of something, and then you can’t write anything at all. Once you are dead you’re finished. I mean, life’s very short, we are all gonna die one day, so I don’t see any point in rushing it. And I’m very sad when I think of the day when I first got addicted to drugs, but I’m equally happy that I now live my life completely free of all that.
Question: When was the cocaine era of your life? [It’s just] to know the distinction between the songs you have written then and when you were on cocaine.
Ken Hensley: Well, you don’t know any songs I wrote when I was under the influence of cocaine. For two reasons: first, they were very bad. And secondly, even though we had problems in the band with alcohol, with heroin, with cocaine, we did have a discipline where we didn’t do these things when we were working. So… but for me that time period was between 1973 and about 1989. So now you can go home and forensically analyze all your CDs and everything… (laughs) “Aha, a cocaine song! I know! Hell!” Now, it’s not something I’m proud of, I’m really not. I mean, you know, it cost me a lot. Not in money, but in relationships and it was the biggest mistake I made in my whole life, and I really wish I had not done it.
Question: How was your relationship with David Byron?
Ken Hensley: Well, David was an incredible person in many ways, and we did have the very special relationship. David was the guy who brought all my songs to life, and I learned over time to write more or less specifically for him. You know, I knew every phrase that he liked to sing, I knew the lines he liked to sing, and so I found myself really thinking about him as I was composing songs. And of course I was always very much impressed by the fact he was such a great front man, he was such a great communicator, and a mouthpiece for the band. […] And I sing songs that David sang originally, and I know I can’t sing them as well as he did, but I think about him while I’m doing it, anyway.
Question: Was there ever a situation that you didn’t play Lady In Black live?
Ken Hensley: Yeah there was a couple of years… You see, the story with Lady In Black is funny, because I wrote the song and I brought it to the band, and the band really didn’t like the song at all. They kind of thought it was a little bit like a folk song, you know… But our producer and our manager loved it. David didn’t want to sing it. So he [our producer] said, “We’re gonna record this song, and Ken’s gonna sing it”. So we did it, and I’m fairly sure that everyone was pretty happy a year or two later that we did actually record it. But we never played it in America. It just didn’t make any impact in America at all, so we never put it in our show.
Excerpts from the concert — Rain (with Eugen Prochác), Wise Man:
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Complete recording of the concert is available on Slovak Radio website as a mp3 podcast (part 1 and part 2).
This post is also available in: Russian
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