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Asia 2002 reviews  

Going bananas in pyjamas

I arrived at the Fort Canning venue about 45 minutes before the start. The venue is a small old cemetery with real head stones pushed into the earth and walls which make up the perimeter of the arena. The arena lies just a few metres from where the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese in WW 2.

Only about 350 people were inside the venue at 7.15pm and I was wondering whether any more would arrive. Well, arrive they did! By 8.30pm approx. 5000 to 7000 people had packed out the arena, a sellout. San Miguel and Jack Daniels were in abundance, which is more than I could say for tour programmes... None! Why is this so? The Englishman in the merchandise booth said, “They weigh too much to carry around the world, so we did not bother with Asia.” Oh well, I bought two t-shirts instead.

At 8pm with beer in hand and 1999 Deep Purple world tour t-shirt on I made my way to my vantage point, five metres from the stage just left of centre. The crowd was mostly local with an extremely large Malay presence. The weather was stifling, overcast, 30 degrees, as humid as hell with no wind. Then, we waited and waited till 8.30pm listening to Carlos Santana over the PA, no support band was present. Finally, DP entered the stage, to the screams and cheers of the crowd.

Ian Paice with his hair now grey and straight half way down his back, Roger Glover in his almost trademark bandana and black jeans, Steve Morse in traditional blue jeans and sleeveless shirt, Don Airey manning keyboards and Ian Gillan wearing what looked like white coloured pyjamas and bare feet.

I looked around and wondered how many actually knew the words to Deep Purple songs. I need not have worried, these people bellowed out the lyrics to the opener Woman From Tokyo without any hesitation. Ted The Mechanic and Mary Long followed (see below for song list). Don Airey was tight and extremely competent. While some of the Mr Lord Magic has been lost with his departure, Don Airey more than holds his own. He is one hot keyboard player. In his solo we heard renditions of classics and the Singapore national anthem which sent the crowd wild before leading into Perfect Strangers. Airey showed he knows his stuff and can cut it by executing Lazy perfectly.

The heat and humidity played its part with Gillan constantly walking to the rear of the stage to gulp down copious amounts of water (I assure you it was water) and change his shirt. By now people were sitting on each others shoulders with their shirts off and a non-violent mosh pit had formed at the front of the stage. I counted at least five people with video cameras in the crowd filming proceedings but no one cared.

Amazingly, the crowd went crazy and sang along with When A Blind Man Cries, this is obviously a huge song here. Gillan then mentioned “a song from way back” before embarking on Fools. From here we went to another Morse solo, which included fragments of AC/DC's Back In Black, Led Zep's Stairway To Heaven, the Who and Dire Straits before Gillan returned to sing the chorus to the Beatles' Strawberry Fields. Morse then blasted into ‘that riff!!’ - Smoke On The Water.

Three quarters through the song, Morse and Glover exchanged guitars. Morse showed off his stuff on bass while Roger Glover showed he was no slacko on lead by playing the Smoke riff and continuing through to the song ended. It rocked!

Roger Glover completed a loud bass solo which included the distinctive riff from Rat Bat Blue. Speed King was typically loud and frantic. Half way through, Steve Morse went into a solo and Gillan obliged by singing along with High School Hop before finishing off Speed King.

The concert ended but the crowd remained, chanting for Highway Star and Purple returned for an encore, Gillan stating that this is the last concert for "a while", they would head back to the UK for some rest before hitting the US.

The encore resumed with Hush, Black Night (including Glover gulping a San Miguel beer before hurling the three quarter full can into the crowd) and finished off with the raw power of Highway Star which as usual brought the house down - with people doing some serious moshing in areas - to end a fantastic night.

Best songs of the night were Perfect Strangers, Speed King, Hush and Highway star.

The set list as best as I can remember it:
Woman From Tokyo
Ted The Mechanic
Mary Long
The Aviator
Messy Guitar [Well Dressed Guitar?]
No One Came
When A Blind Man Cries
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
Perfect Strangers
Smoke On The Water
Speed King

Black Night
Highway Star

Soldier Of Fortune wasn't played which surprises me because it's a very popular song here in Singapore.

Bill Bradbury (by way of Tom Bradbury)

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