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UK reviews 2002 (rescheduled)

Old friends give all

For my third Purple night I travelled the relatively short distance to Bristol, arriving very early to ensure a place at the front standing area in the stalls. Apart from passing time pleasantly with like minded fans, I was rewarded with a brief meeting with mr. Bernie Marsden on the stairs - a "hello" and a handshake as he passed.

As soon as the doors opened, I took my place at the centre front. Another advantage of this was the view of the lovely ladies in The Planets - this close, there was even more to appreciate! It is worth stating now, what pleasant support The Planets have been. Not groundbreaking, but professional and entertaining. The Bristol crowd gave them a deserved cheer at the end of each number - and one wag shouted out "That's better," when the men finished their solo spot and the ladies rejoined them.

On to Purple. Same set list as previous nights (still no Aviator), but an absolutely stunning performance from the first chord to the last. As reported everywhere, the whole band was having a party on stage and the fans were more than welcome to join in. In Bristol, that is exactly what they did. The girl next to me even threw her knickers on stage (a pair brought along for the occasion, I hasten to add) [Aww, kill-joy! ;^) Rasmus]. She even asked security for permission to throw them!

Each song was flawless and it's hard to pick out highlights. Space Truckin' seemed even better than usual. Both Ian Gillan and Roger Glover had to remind Steve that he should face the audience during his solos - so busy having a party with friends, eh?

The reception for Jon Lord was magnificent, we will miss the great man, but on the evidence of the introduction to Lazy, Don will prove a more than capable substitute.

We also had the bonus of the aforementioned Bernie Marsden join Purple on stage for Smoke. Watching Bernie and Steve exchange riffs before the opening bars was a treat. To give an idea of the strength of emotions flowing in the crowd and the band, at the end of the set Ian Gillan climbed down off stage and personally thanked and shook hands with all of us in the front row. It may not seem much, but it was most appreciated by all of us.

The encores followed, Hush was electrifying, Black Night (with Ian conducting the crowd) was superb and Highway Star rounded the evening off with a flourish. Gillan ended the song sat down, obviously knackered. They had all put heart and soul into a great night and had been repaid by the audience giving them, as Ian always puts it, "superb vibes". A truly great night to round off my visits to old friends - that's what it feels like now. The guys are enjoying themselves so much, it communicates to all around them.

Thanks guys, for past, present and future. Get that album finished, released and theN come back and tell us all about it - soon!

Tom Dixon

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