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Asia 2002 reviews  

Better in Bangkok

Deep Purple last played in Bangkok in June of 1991, with a somewhat different line-up to the band that played under the Deep Purple banner at the fantastic Impact Arena. Gone since 1991 are lead singer Joe Lynn Turner who, although a great vocalist and showman, only lasted one album with Deep Purple. Original Purple keyboard wizard and founder of the band, Jon Lord at 60, had decided that one more jaunt around the Far East was a call too many for his roadweary bones, although the rumour is he will rejoin the band for one more tour of the U.K and a final album. Lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore also left soon after the last Bangkok gig, in the middle of the next tour in one of his usual sulks and quite frankly who cares, as he has been replaced by the amazing Steve Morse.

In 1991, with only three hours sleep after their flight from Japan (where Blackmore flew First Class and the rest of the band Economy), no soundcheck and an hour and a half car journey to cover four kilometres to the concert from the hotel, Deep Purple were blown off stage by the two Thai support bands (Orion Plain, and the Lam Morrisson All Stars). They played for only fifty-five minutes, including encore Smoke On The Water of which Blackmore played the intro from off-stage and then left the band to finish the song while he cleared off in his limo to beat the traffic.

At the time they relied far too much on their recent album Slaves And Masters, only playing a handful of classics to start and finish the show. As bass player Roger Glover said after the show, “We’ve played better and we’ve played worse… I can’t remember when we’ve played worse though.”

But eleven years later Deep Purple came back to Thailand and put the record straight. Steve Morse was on fire right from the get-go and Ian Gillan, the real voice of Deep Purple, is back front stage. The long hair of old may be trimmed but the voice and onstage banter between songs if anything, is better than ever.

Don Airey had been drafted in to fill the boots of Jon Lord and on the evidence of this show does an admirable job, and would be the obvious choice to take up the keyboard role should Jon Lord decide to hang up his keyboards next year. Roger Glover and Ian Paice, the rhythm section, are the only remaining members of the band from last time, but both seemed determined to make amends, rocking hard all night long and taking well deserved solo sections that held the rabid crowd enthralled in their grip.

Deep Purple have no album to promote at the moment, the last studio album being Abandon from 1998, so there was no mistake of playing songs nobody recognized. Every classic Purple song was reeled out to the jubilation of the enthusiastic and knowledgeable local crowd.

For those of you who unfortunately missed the concert, get a copy of the last Deep Purple album Total Abandon Live on CD or DVD and, although nothing can replace the live experience, it gives you an idea and will leave you in no mind not to miss the opportunity again.

After the now infamous Pattaya chant had been ringing round the stadium of ‘Play Something You Know’, the house lights dimmed and, with a flurry of activity, Deep Purple rocked onto the stage, blazing straight into an extended Woman From Tokyo where each member of the band was able to stretch out, preparing for the two and a half hours of rock'n'roll that was to come.

Both the drums and keyboards were up on risers at the back of the stage, which was dominated by a large painting of a sunset, leaving plenty of room for the front trio to rock out.

Highlights of the show were the fantastic lights and laser show, especially during Perfect Strangers (dedicated to Ian Gillan’s favourite football club Q.P.R which got a surprisingly loud roar of approval), Don Airey’s solo keyboard introduction to Lazy, Steve Morse teasing the audience with snatches of songs by The Who, Hendrix, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, and many more, before blazing into Smoke On The Water.

More highlights: Ian Gillan pretending to be on an aeroplane during ‘Aviator’, the thud as Rick Bryant’s jaw hit the ground when he realized they were going to play the forgotten classic Mary Long, and best of all, the three song encore of Hush, the J.D Southerner song and a hit single for Deep Purple in the United States of America in 1968 when only a young Ian Paice was in the band from the present line-up. Then up-popped first international hit single Black Night including a great sing-a-long conducted by Ian Gillan and Steve Morse, then to send everybody home from a rocking high, Highway Star. Almost every cover band in the world plays this song, but no one does it quite like Deep Purple.

Today the roof of the Impact Stadium must be a least two foot higher as this time Deep Purple raised the roof. All their sins are forgiven.

Set list:
Woman From Tokyo
Ted The Mechanic
Mary Long
The Aviator
No One Came
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
Well Dressed Guitar
Perfect Strangers
Smoke On The Water
When A Blind Man Cries
Speed King

Black Night
Highway Star


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