Review: Wonderworld – Live Fire

Review: Wonderworld – Live Fire

December 15th 2021

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Before I dive into the album I need to let you, the dear reader know about not only why this album came about, but how Wonderworld themselves came to be.

Most of you will be familiar with the name Ken Hensley. A vocalist and multi-instrumentalist whose involvement with the fantastic Uriah Heep in the 70’s gave us such tracks as ‘Easy Livin’‘ and ‘Lady In Black‘ which he wrote as well as sang on.

Live Fire‘ was a band consisting of Ken, as well as Norwegian musicians Ken Ingwersen on guitar and Tom Fossheim on drums. While recording an album in Spain, back in March 2013, having been together around 6 – 8 years, they met bassist and vocalist Roberto Trianti. The guys hit it off straight away , with Hensley suggesting that Ken Ingwersen,Tom Fossheim and Roberto Trianti should form a trio.

And so Wonderworld came into being, with their self titled debut being released in October of 2014. It was during the run up to this release that I became aware of the band and in fact interviewed Roberto for my then radio show.

The band followed up with their second and third albums ‘II‘ and ‘lll‘ respectively. All three of their albums still get regular spins by me.

Then the sad news came at the beginning of November last year that Ken Hensley had died.

Obviously this was a huge blow to the band, but they decided that the most fitting tribute to the man they saw as their mentor was an album consisting of songs they regulally played live with Ken Hensley & Live Fire.

And so to the album. ‘Live Fire‘ consists of a mixture of Uriah Heep and Ken’s solo/Live Fire material.

This is no missmash of material hastilly performed. This is such a coherent, and exceptionally performed compilation, which delivers such a fantastic tribute. Roberto’s vocal performance is just superb, giving the songs the right delivery while still maintaining the flavour of his vocal style. This is something not easily undertaken. Ken Ingwersen and Tom Fossheim‘s musicianship is as always exemplary. I’ve said before that Ken is such an underated guitarist, for those of you unfamiliar, check out the video for ‘Echo Of My Thoughts‘ off their second album!

It’s easy to say that ‘Live Fire‘ is a fitting tribute, but as a fan of Ken’s time in Heep and knowing that material very well, that alone makes for a superb release. If it was only an EP consisting of the previously mentioned ‘Easy Livin’‘, ‘Sunrise‘ and ‘Gypsy‘ I’d be one very happy fan. But this album is so much more.

The album finishes off with ‘The Longest Night‘ with Ken Hensley‘s vocals accompanying Roberto’s and it gave me goose bumps listening to it.

Now I’d of bought ‘Live Fire‘ regardless as it’s a Wonderworld release, but it really is so much more and they have given new life to some much loved songs in what truly is a fitting tribute to a musical legend.