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UK reviews 2002 (rescheduled)

Life itself: Deep Purple

This was just stunning. Having seen the guys in Manchester and Liverpool in February, I was just a bit apprehensive about whether big Ian's voice would be up to the job. Nothing could have been further from the truth - Ian was powerful and in control all night.

And what about the band? Well, what need I say? How can you improve on perfection?! I never mourned the passing of the green-tights wearing banjo player (I think he lost it big-time in the early 90s, and doesn't show any sign of getting it back), but Steve Morse just gives more and more to the Deep Purple sound. His arrival for Purpendicular kicked more life into DP than they'd had for decades! In the intro to When A Blind Man Cries, Steve gave us a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner - just perfect for the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedies.

And now we've got also got Don Airey - and more life! Don't get me wrong; Jon Lord was and is The Boss, but Don fits in perfectly, and he surely adds to the band's sound - his stunning solo before the switchover with Jon was awesome. Star Wars and The Blaydon Races in a Purple concert? Well, why the hell not! Don even included a few bars from Jon's Concerto - a perfect tribute.

Ian Paice just gets better and better with age (sorry Ian, no disrespect intended)! I got so tired of drum solos a few years ago, but now I can't get enough, especially his one-handed snare roll. Wonderful stuff!

Roger Glover is becoming a real lead bass player. His solo in Speed King was astounding, neat use of both his fabulous playing and a couple of well-placed effects. As a bass player myself, I really rate this guy.

And that just leaves the Lord himself. Well, he's going out in style! Perfect Strangers is such a showcase for Jon's classic Hammond sound and style, and the duet with Don for the solo in Highway Star was great to see (and hear). Jon will be very sadly missed, and I wish him well in all his future work, but he need have no worries about what he leaves behind - his legacy is in good hands.

Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers? Well, they don't look like strangers to me (witness the constant grins on all of them), and they're as near perfect as I can imagine!

Roll on Saturday at Birmingham, and may Deep Purple be In Rock forever.

The setlist:
Woman From Tokyo
Mary Long
Ted The Mechanic
The Well Dressed Guitar
Star Spangled Banner - When A Blind Man Cries
Space Truckin'
Don's solo - switch with Jon - Perfect Strangers
Speed King (inc. Roger's and Ian P's solos)
Smoke On The Water

Black Night
Highway Star

I hope that's all of some use!

Best wishes and keep up the fantastic work,

Nick Naylor

See Nick's photos from Newcastle

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