Why bands never learn is beyond me. Why they still put dreadful supports on before gigs who knows?. After Rock Box and their dreadful covers (really if that’s the best you can do, don’t have a support band at all) the stage is cleared for Deep Purple.
Last time we saw them Deep Purple
had a German Orchestra with them and the whole thing was quite marvellous, this
time it’s just the band, with the classical overtones stripped away.
There have, though been two
significant events in the Purple camp since a couple of years ago. First they
have, this year, stuck out the quite superb “Now What?!” record – from which
five songs come from this evening, while the second saw the tragic death of Jon
Lord, who’s shadow is cast long over the set. They dedicate a song from that
new record “Above And Beyond” to Lord this evening, with his image being
projected onto the big screen.
He would have been proud of the
groups evolution currently, and “…What?” is a truly excellent record. They kick
off with “Apres Vous” from it (which is a change from “Highway Star” that they
had played elsewhere). Elsewhere highlights from the new record include
“Vincent Price” – which sees singer Ian Gillan wearing a mask, and the bluesy
licks of “Lazy,” all of which are good enough to be played in this company, and
if some of the crowd are bemused by all this new stuff then that’s their loss.
This isn’t an evening where the
classics are totally eschewed, though and they are soon into “Hard Lovin’ Man”
and “Strange Kind Of Woman” and Purple are very much in the pink.
Steve Morse’s guitar playing
remains a key draw in this edition of the group and he plays fantastic solos
throughout, as does Don Airey on Keyboards and Ian Paice on the drums – which
as entertaining as it is, is done you suspect to help Gillan hide his voice, he
is clearly struggling at points and it is a shame.
The ending of the gig is full of
stonewall classics, “Space Truckin’” gives way to the unmistakable riff of
“Smoke On The Water” takes us home, or more accurately to the encore of “Hush”
and “Black Knight.”
During the course of the 90 minutes they are
onstage, Purple prove just why they are such an important band in British
musical history, and if Ian Gillan cant quite manage to get his pipes around
these songs quite like he used to then it matters little, because Deep Purple
remain a must see.