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Asia 2002 reviews  

Once missed, never again

Deep Purple - The last time they visited India was in 1995 when I was 14 years old. Then I had no idea who they were, only that they were some band from yesteryear. From what I remember, they came with a replacement member. A 'Steve Morse' to replace 'Rich Blakmore'. Whoever that was!! I never made it to the show and frankly wasn't that interested. However, later in the same year whilst I was scanning through my father's LPs, I found two LPs with the same name Deep Purple on them. One read Made In Japan and the other Made In Europe.

At first I thought that the LPs were manufactured in Japan and Europe. Little did I know that the titles meant that the band had performed there. Anyway, the cover picture looked so very intense and colourful. Five guys with their hair till their waists just... doing their thing. I had to listen to it. And I did! I listened to both of them thoroughly and it was just so amazing. I had never heard anything like it before, since all I listened to was commercial pop music. It was Ian Paice's drumming that did it for me. He is such a fantastic drummer. But what really hooked me was Ritchie Blackmore's guitar work. It was just amazing. Both these shows had him in the best of forms. I have never stopped listening to the band ever since.

It has been 8 years now and I have listened to practically every song the band has made. Also because of Deep Purple I was introduced to other classic rock bands and also to the very huge Purple Family Tree. I think what Deep Purple were and even now, is pure gut-level classic rock.

I came to know that the band was visiting Mumbai this year through The Highway Star site. Also, I knew that Jon Lord wasn't going to be there and that Don Airey was the replacement. I had watched Mr. Airey perform on a Gary Moore Still Got The Blues video. He was nothing compared to Jon Lord, maybe because he wasn't given enough opportunity in the Gary Moore gig to prove himself. Anyway, I felt he must be really good now that he has replaced Jon Lord and also I remember him being a part of Rainbow. Anyway, that didn't matter much as long as I get to see the guys. I bought my ticket way in advance. I was actually going to see Deep Purple. WOW!!!

3rd May 2002 - This is it! Today is the day! Deep Purple performs in Mumbai at the Bandra-Kurla Complex wherever that is. The promotion company did a great job promoting the show. There were ads in every major newspaper two weeks before the show. I have never witnessed a promotion like this for any other band that ever visited India.

I left with a group of five friends. We didn't know where the venue was only that it was somewhere in Bandra or Kurla. After searching and scanning the place we finally reached the venue at around 6:30pm. The crowd was massive unlike any other rock show I had been to. People were already entering. Since we got there quite early we got to stand in the seventh row, I think, only a few meters away from the stage. It was amazing the equipment and all. Cameras flying over our heads. This is the first time I got to see such equipment.

The band's equipment also looked amazing. Ian Paice's drum kit looked massive behind the opening band's drum kit. Everything was in place. We had to wait for another 20 minutes before the opening act came out to play. The band called themselves Aquaflow. They were quite good and entertained us with five songs. Even they wanted to finish off as soon as possible so that they could hear Purple play. "Don't worry guys, we will finish soon... even we can't wait to hear Deep Purple, the rock giants play..." said the band's vocalist. Anyway they played covers by Santana, Bon Jovi and Queen. Quite good... but nothing compared to what was yet to come. At one point we could see Steve Morse backstage, during the opening act's guitar solo, making gestures as if to say that the guitarist was playing well.

After about 10 minutes we could hear the guitars... I think this was what is called a sound check. It lasted just for a minute I think. Deep Purple took the stage with Ian Paice, Don Airey, Roger Glover, and Steve Morse. Ian Gillan joined later. The crowd went crazy. I cannot put into words how I felt when I saw these guys. I was awestruck. I only saw them in pictures I download from the site and in videos. This was incredible. The guys were just a few meters away.

They immediately started off with Woman From Tokyo. It was just incredible. I could not believe it when the crowd started singing along and jumping and pushing. The middle portion was just great when Morse plays his harmonic lead. The song on a whole sounded exactly like the Total Abandon version. Excellent!!!

Gillan introduced the next song Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic. This was very unusual because in all the Purple concerts I have ever heard the vocalist never introduces the first two songs. There was this one part during the start of the song where Morse plays some weird stuff. I could never understand what he was doing only that he was doing it. I looked closely to see what he actually did but I couldn't understand anything. Moreover he fingerpicked the whole intro. I didn't understand anything. The whole song was just so incredible. Airey played a small solo after Morse's fierce solo. Gillan was jumping around screaming during the end which made him fall over! Glover picked him up. Great performance on this one!!

The next song was Mary Long. I had read in previous reviews that this song would be included. I never really listened to the studio version closely. But the live version really rocked. Morse and Airey both had their share of solos.

Next up was Lazy. Airey started this one off with a nice acoustic solo. Later shifting to organ, played the opening bars of the song and then Morse joined in followed by the remainder of the band. Excellent solos from Morse, Airey and Gillan on harmonica. Superb!!!

According to reviews of the previous shows the next song up was supposed to be Child In Time. But the guys didn't play it. I didn't know why because Gillan's voice was in top shape. I was really looking forward to seeing them play this one. But what the heck, there must have been some valid reason.

Next up, however, was The Aviator. "You know, Steve is a pilot by profession... we just jump off the window... this next one is called Aviator" - parts of the sentences when Gillan introduced this song. I couldn't hear properly because the crowd was shouting. During the first half of this song Gillan, Glover and Morse sat down while playing. Glover was holding his bass guitar like a sitar. The song was just incredible. Many people were amazed to hear it. I don't think many heard the song before.

No One Came was next. During this one the crowd went into frenzy. Pushing and jumping and clapping... well played!!!

Gillan introduced the next one, "Here's one... there's another one (pointing up to the sky on the right)... there's another one (pointing up to the sky on the left). This is a new song. We have almost finished with it. We have no idea whether to include it in the new album or not. I think you guys should hear it and tell us what you think. It's called The Well-dressed Guitar" F#@K!! What the hell is Morse playing?!??!! It sounded so complex with inflections of classical music. I can't remember any of it now, but I know it was excellent. The crowd went crazy. Morse was simply incomparable. Excellent! Gillan asked the crowd after the song had ended whether it should be included and crowd went crazy replying in the positive. "Aaaaa... we'll think about it... haha", replied Gillan.

Next up was Fools. The intro was mellow like the studio version. Thereafter the song started with a bang and crowd went crazy again. During the middle section Don Airey did some great stuff. He was singing through his organ during parts. Superb!!

"There was this one time when I lost my wife's telephone number, which is a very bad thing... this next one is called Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming." Again I couldn't hear all that Gillan said because the crowd were simply too noisy. The song was played like on the Total Abandon tour faithful to the original.

Don Airey shone in his keyboard solo, which was next. He went as fast as Malmsteen does on his guitar. Playing classical tunes. A lot of tricks were pulled. The crowd just couldn't stop cheering as he went fast, faster... fastest!!! Airey's solo led to Perfect Strangers. Immaculate! Gillan sang this one really well. Simply the best rock vocalist ever!

Next up was When A Blind Man Cries. Gillan introduced this one, "There are times when we are in deep trouble... but we must always realize that there is always somebody who is suffering more than we are... so we must always be grateful... Superb solos from both Airey and Morse. Morse played an extended solo during the intro and in the middle.

Next up was Morse's guitar solo after which he started playing a medley of songs from Beatles, Guns N' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, etc. When he started playing the opening riff to Sweet Child O Mine by Guns N' Roses, the crowd went crazy. I think he meant only to play the intro but because the crowd started jumping and shouting, Morse asked the band to play on and they played the whole guitar solo... WOWOWOWOW!!! The crowd went even crazier during Stairway To Heaven. Again the band joined in and they played the entire solo. Then came the riff to Smoke On The Water. There was no stopping the crowd now. They were jumping, screaming and pushing on all gears. The crowd joined in singing the entire song with Gillan.

After Smoke On The Water, to my utter surprise Gillan said his thank you's and the band left. I couldn't believe it. No Speed King... No drum solo... Come on!! I knew they'd be back for an encore. But they were definitely not going to play Speed King then.

Anyway they did return, and Hush was excellent. "This song was written a 100 years ago," Gillan said. Super keyboard solo. The crowd knew the lyrics to this one too. Black Night was up next. Morse played an extended solo during the end. But there was no guitar-crowd duel... wasn't Morse's fault... the crowd just wouldn't keep their mouths shut... they kept singing the riff as if keeping rhythm when Morse played the solo. As soon as the song ended the crowd started screaming Highway Star, Highway Star, Highway Star..." and they got Highway Star... All four verses, keyboard and guitar solo, screams and all. Pure energy!!! The crowd was going crazier and crazier. They could do with another encore. But that was it. THE END.

The show was just incredible, unlike anything I have ever seen before. I still can't believe I really went to a Deep Purple show. It feels like a dream. It was very hot during the show, people sticking to each other. We were drenched in sweat when we came out. A friend of mine took off his shirt and squeezed out a whole glass-full of sweat. There was a crowd capacity of at least 4.000-5.000 I think. It took 10 minutes to get out of the place. The road was packed with people walking towards the railway station.

The show was just superb. I hope the guys will come back next year after they have recorded the new studio album. Everybody played well, but Morse and Gillan dominated the show. Ian Paice was superb. Glover played to the point and Airey backed well. Please include The Well-Dressed Guitar in the new studio album.

Thank you Deep Purple (Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Rod Evans, Nicky Simper, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Tommy Bolin, Joe Lynn Turner, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and Don Airey). What ever the line-up, Deep Purple always stood for excellent rock music!!! Thank you guys and keep rocking!!! Deep Purple rules!!!

Bjorn Xavier

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