I felt sorry for Lynyrd Skynyrd
I have been a Deep Purple fan since 1973 when I was but a schoolboy in Scotland and recall reading the review of the just released "Burn" album in the New Musical Express. "Made In Japan" did it for me however; the power and artistry of the Mark 2 lineup was for me beyond comparison. At that time I also listened incessantly to "Jesus Christ Superstar". Not until later did I realize that Gillan was the great singer who absolutely stole the show on that album.
I had never seen Deep Purple live even though they came through Denver on the 1985 reunion tour when I was living there. Checking The Highway Star tour listings frequently [Just like the band! ;^) Rasmus], I was very happy to find them finally on a US tour; Nevertheless I had already resolved to see them somewhere in the world in 2001. It was just a matter of seeing how far I would have to travel.
My wife and I drove from Houston to Shreveport on the afternoon of the concert, arriving at the venue at about 6:15pm. We waited somewhat impatiently to enter the arena and after enduring the repulsive but nevertheless entertaining Ted Nugent finally joined in welcoming Deep Purple to the stage at about 8:10pm. My wife is from India and not too musically aware or educated about western music other than what she hears in passing or I force her to listen to by playing the stereo system too loudly. She was entranced by the unparalleled excellence, musicality, virtuosity and power of Deep Purple, likening parts of the performance to a "spiritual experience". Morse and Gillan were particularly outstanding, though this is relative considering the excellence of Glover, Lord and Paice.
Steve Morse has excelled at filling an impossible job. Blackmore was a major element of Deep Purple though definitely not its defining element. The combination of Morse with Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice is Purple to core; I wish I had the chance to look at Morse's veins in his wrist just to confirm the colour of his blood!
Deep Purple is as vibrant and creative a band in 2001 as they have ever been. The combination of experience, history, musicianship and felicitous grouping of individuals whose total is greater than the sum of its parts produces music that has and will continue to stand the test of time. I find the same spirit that animates much of Beethoven's 'heroic' music also animates much of Deep Purple's music. All one has to do, for example, is listen to Beethoven's Fifth Piano Concerto and "Perfect Strangers" or "The Battle Rages On" in succession to hear this.
Anyway, after Deep Purple finished their set, we left the venue. I felt sorry for Lynyrd Skynyrd having to follow Deep Purple's performance; They are just not in the same league.