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UK reviews 2002 (rescheduled)

Sounds of socks

First time back at the NEC since G3 with Satch, Roth etc. The atmosphere is extremely good as always and lots of youngsters in evidence, some probably as young as 10 or 11.

The Planets come on bang on 7.30pm, very talented and professional, though some strange atonal sounds from the oboist, even when she was playing the piano. Sadly the rhythm guitarist, the one with the twin neck instrument, totally inaudible. But all in all a very polished 40-minute set, made even better by the good audience support. Birmingham, unlike other venues likes to get its moneys worth and really gets behind the support bands, whoever is headlining.

Deep Purple. After a 20-minute turn round the lights go out and the 'air-conditioning' goes on and bang there are the lads blasting into Fireball. Sadly from where I was the sound mix wasn't brilliant, Ian Norton must have been fairly well forward and getting a lot of backline sound. Let me put it like this. Spike Milligan once asked for a sound effect for a Goon show that sounded like a sock full of cold custard being slapped against a wall. Sadly Roger's bass sounded like a wet fart through said sock full of custard. Seems like Rog has gone wireless, as no long lead in evidence, so that could be the problem. He also seems to have changed his gear. Go back to the Trace Elliott stuff Rog, it sounds much better. Sadly because of this, or it might have been the mixing, I couldn't make out any of the new song, The well Dressed Guitar other than this bass rumble. The only time Rog got a good sound was during his solo, when someone was throwing in effects for him.

Seems like the rest of the band was suffering too, 'cos Steve, although playing his heart out was making frantic signals to his side of the stage. I know they've been on the road for along time and the tiredness was showing tonight. Steve was missing notes by a fret or so at times. I do too, but I'm a crap guitarist. Maybe it's time for some wedges to appear along front stage again, rather than trust that everyone's in the same key.

Don Airey is making a real effort but the set only really gelled when Jon appeared after Star Wars.

The effort these guys were making really was incredible and I'm not trying to take anything away from them, it was a really good show, and having followed this band since the days of playing in a pub deep in Epping Forest, I think I can say that.

Perhaps next tour they can take Darren Schneider with them to do their live sound, like in the old days they used to take Martin Birch. [Wasn't this just for live recordings? You must have been at a very bad spot at the NEC because usually Moray's sound is spot on. Rasmus]

I love you guys, it was a good show, perhaps it was just where I was sitting in that great barn. Thanks for 33 years and here's to the next, I'll be there.

Martin Cook

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