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Asia 2002 reviews  

Shortchanged - kind of...

No bass solo, no drum solo, no Speed King, no Child In Time, and 15 minutes shorter than both previous concerts (1995, 2001). On the plus side, the list is somewhat longer. But I'll come to that later.

While last year I'd said that the band's management and the local event management company made an inspired choice in Bangalore, they didn't quite do the same this year. Mumbai gave the band no more than 10-12.000 fans; Bangalore had seen almost thrice that number. The Mumbai crowd was also less vociferous, and seemed to know fewer songs from the band's repertoire. Which is why, perhaps, The Aviator was a mistake. And if it came in place of Speed King or Child In Time, all I can say is, someone didn't know what they were doing.

Musically speaking, the band did not disappoint. They were explosive, tight, fast and furious. The sound was great from virtually any point in front of the stage, and that was an improvement over Bangalore. Gillan's voice was strong; his wit was undiminished by the tepid responses to some of his gems, and his mobility was unhampered by the sweltering heat. He led the band with power and imagination, humour and energy.

Among the instrumentalists, Morse stole the show. Maybe I was imagining it, maybe the sound was better... but I thought Morse played better this time around. If only he'd change his parts in Blind Man, though, and make them more appropriate to the song.

Glover's snappy bass was clean and loud, Paice was the hammer that held it all down with precision. And Airey. What can I say about Airey without sounding critical or fawning? Except for the intro to Perfect Strangers (the most spine-tingling moments of any DP concert), I only missed the face of Lord, not the sound of Lord. Airey was not so radically different that one had to re-evaluate the songs themselves... there was plenty of familiarity with a bit of something new. A tough job and well done, Don.

One more leg of one more tour is over. But it's time for a new album. There's no two ways about that, Deep Purple. Your set is starting to sound stale, even if your delivery is fresh and exciting. Anyway... Thanks for coming. Do come again, but please remember: same members, new numbers.

G. S. Shridhar, Chennai, India

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