Harbor Center, Portsmouth, VA, USA
June 12, 2005
1. Silver Tongue
2. Woman From Tokyo
3. Strange Kind of Woman
4. I 've Got Your Number
5. Demon's Eye
6. Contact Lost with an instrumental bridge to
7. Well Dressed Guitar
8. Don Airey solo
9. Perfect Strangers
10. Highway Star
11. Space Truckin'
12. Smoke On The Water
I had been looking forward to this show for several months, and, first, I must say, "Wow!
From beginning to end, the band hit on all cylinders. Deep Purple exceeded my every expectation, and
this live performance was much better than the recorded studio versions of their music. Deep Purple
was nearly perfect.
For my taste, they could have improved the show only if they had played longer and included a few
numbers from their more recent albums (Purpendicular and Abandon, in particular), a few numbers from
In Rock ("Flight of the Rat" and "Living Wreck" come to mind), and if Steve
Morse had been given more time to go wild on the guitar.
However, at this point in their careers, they have so much material to work with and musical talent
to showcase I suppose they find it difficult to put together and order a set list that completely
Regarding the show let me start at the top. Ian Gillan looked and sounded great and performed
marvelously. He nailed almost every phrase and note, although he looked to be having some trouble
keeping his throat clear of congestion - the show was performed at an open-air theater alongside a
river on a warm, humid evening. Much has been made of Ian's voice in recent years, but last night he
was strong, clear, and appeared to be having the time of his life. He interacted well and often with
the band and audience but also kept the show moving. Furthermore, his live renditions of "Silver
Tongue" and "I Got Your Number" from Bananas blew away the studio versions.
Ian Paice's drumming was both flawless and powerful. I thought it was most appropriate that at the
beginning of the concert Paicey was illuminated first as he is the sole remaining initial band
member. I have long thought that Paice is one of the very best in the business and have remarked to
others that he doesn't just provide rhythm or maintain the tempo, but he "drives" the
music. I think this is born out particularly well on "Woman From Tokyo" - again, I would
have loved to have heard "Living Wreck" if only for the drumming. "Rat Bat Blue"
would also have worked well.
Roger Glover was given too little time to showcase his talent in solo fashion, but his rapport with
the audience was excellent throughout. He and Steve Morse were constantly giving away guitar picks
and interacting with fans. I really think that Glover is the consummate professional; does his job
well with no pretense.
Don Airey was magnificent and his talents were highlighted several times. His organ solo and
subsequent introductory notes to "Perfect Strangers" thrilled the fans and provided some
of the best moments of the night. Airey's renditions of the Jetson's and Star Wars theme songs were
lighthearted and well received. I think he gave the longest solo performance of the night, and he
showed he has tremendous talent. I was a Jon Lord fan for about 30 years and must admit my
disappointment when he retired. But, Don Airey does more than just stand in for Jon Lord - he has
taken over! Last night, during the solo, he separated the different musical scores by making a
helicopter sounding noise between segments.
Steve Morse is simply the best. He has such total command over the guitar. I think he can do with it
whatever he wants. Not only that, he has great imagination, attitude, stage presence, and
personality. He appears to be the total team player. Here also, his stage performance of "Contact
Lost" was infinitely better than that recorded on Bananas. He is every bit as talented as
Ritchie Blackmore and doesn't bring the baggage. His renditions of the classic Deep Purple songs
were as well played as I have ever heard.
I thought the set list was well conceived and the ways the band transitioned from one song to the
next was clever - both by way of Gillan's introductions and the musical transitions (such as when
Don Airey transitioned from his solo to "Perfect Strangers" and when Steve Morse moved
from "Well Dressed Guitar" to " Highway Star"). And, though I have heard "Smoke
on the Water" too many times it works extremely well in concert and with audience participation.
"Lazy" and "Hush" were both fantastic. As a matter of fact, this was the best
rendition of "Hush" that I have ever heard. All in all, it was a great, entertaining
This was only my second Deep Purple concert - I saw the Mark III band during 1974 so this was my
first live look at Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Steve Morse, and Don Airey. They did not disappoint. My
wife and 14 year old daughter also attended and were very impressed - my daughter, an aspiring
guitar player, walked away with a Steve Morse guitar pick. Thanks, Steve! It means a lot to her.
If you have the opportunity to see Deep Purple this year you must go - you will not regret it. The
crowd at Portsmouth was extremely enthusiastic and probably numbered about 2,000 (the pavilion seats
about 3,500). Sorry, but the web site says they do not allow pictures to be taken at the shows.
Mountain opened for Deep Purple, and, to their credit, also did a great job. Leslie West and
Corky Lang can still put on a show.
I don't know much about Mountain other than its front man is Leslie West. It
appeared as though they had their mainstay drummer with them. They are a three piece unit - guitar,
drums and bass player. Since Ann and I are unfamiliar with their music, it was hard to get into it.
They sounded pretty good and were playing well. Songs I knew that they played were: Mississippi
Queen, Crossroads (Cream) and Blowin' in the Wind (Bob Dylan). They played, talked and threw drum
sticks for about an hour.
Ann and I were very excited about this show because, for once, we got Front
Row tickets from the local Ticketmaster. We were directly in front of Roger Glover. Deep Purple
opened with one of the best songs from Bananas and maintained a pretty high energy level, typical of
a Purple concert.
Despite Ian Gillan not being one hundred percent (he was displaying a cough
off mike), DP are still a mean machine when not at full capacity. Gillan gave a tremendous
performance, hardly missing a note! The rest of the band were terrific as usual. Ann thought they
were a little "off" that night. Perhaps it was just the fact that this was only the second
stop on the North American tour. The band got off to a rocky start on Lazy, but the guys laughed it
off. Ian introduced the final song as one that is "about 5,000 years old". During Hush,
Roger and Paice got to shine on their own for 3 or 4 minutes each. Ian made a funny remark about our
(Harbor Center) "tent" and a later made a reference to camping.
Regrets? I was hoping for a full 90 minutes at least. They played for a
typical (of late) 75 - 80 minutes. They still had time to squeeze in Speed King, but I don't know if
Ian and the band were up to it. Perhaps that would have put them beyond the agreed to quitting time
in the contract. So - nothing from In Rock; only one song (Perfect Strangers) from the two 80's
reunion albums; nothing from Abandon or Perpendicular, which was slightly disappointing. Also, no
new songs. But Hey - we got a good dose of the Old (Machine Head, etc.) with the new (Bananas) as on
last year's tour.
The Highlight for me was when DP dusted off and played Demon's Eye (an outtake
from the Fireball album that showed up years later on The Very Best of DP and the remastered
Fireball CD). This is a bluesy, haunting rocker with a good rock n roll beat. I was wanting to hear
this song last year in Dallas and I even had a poster requesting the song from the fifth row. This
time, we were on the Front Row and they played "my song"!
Thanks, Deep Purple. Another fantastic evening.
Eric "Rock" Robeson