Family trip to Purpleland
5:30pm Saturday 6/23/01 and I'm travelling southwest to Hartford CT at almost 80 mph in the family mini-van. I couldn't let Deep Purple's last area appearance go by without seeing them again. So, with my wife, 13 year-old daughter, and 10 year-old son in tow, a last minute plan is hatched and we are on our way. I had just seen last Saturday's Mansfield Ma show (see review) and it was SUPERB!
6:55pm we arrive in Hartford. Wow! The parking lot is a real trip. Filled with beer guzzling, bowl smoking, Skynyrd fans and my kids are getting a real education. It is soon discovered that Hartford has a real CRACK problem. No...not the drug. These are fat white guys who can't keep their Levi's from travelling a little south of the border. My middle-school, cheerleader daughter, shielding her eyes says,"Oh..No..No..That is just NOT right!" For those of you who don't know, the average Skynyrd fan is not attractive. Think "Jim" from the sitcom "Taxi". Add 100 pounds, a dirty bandana to conceal the receding hairline, a faded Skynyrd Tribute Tour '87 shirt (two sizes too small) stretched over a beer gut, and pissed-in Levi's that are way too low! We park our Caravan among the throng of rusting pick-up trucks and walk the 1/2 mile to the Meadows music center.
A quick stop to pick up our tickets and after-show passes and we head in. We decide to skip Nugent as I had just witnessed his shtick last weekend. Besides, I decided that if my kids were to learn any new four letter words, they would learn them at home where they are supposed to. HA HA. Instead, we agreed it would be wise to use our passes to get back-stage. Note to self: After-show passes only work AFTER the show. So, we make our way to our seats. WOW! 6th row, left side! They are right in front of Roger Glover!
My ten year old son and I decided to go right to the front of the stage just in time for "Woman From Tokyo". This was incredible! A pretty Asian-American girl danced her way to the front of the stage beside us and Ian quickly noticed, pointing her out to a smiling Roger Glover. The crowd really responded. The sound was excellent even this close to the stage. The set list was identical to the Mansfield set the week before with the exception of a slight variation in Steve Morse's "greatest riffs of all-time" intro to "Smoke On The Water". By this time, the entire crowd was on their feet, dancing, and singing along! Roger threw a guitar pick my way, which I caught. Ian Paice threw a drumstick my way, which I did not.
The encore closed the show with "Hush" and "Highway Star". The audience, which was predominantly for Skynyrd, was totally converted and REALLY didn't want to see Deep Purple leave. This is one area that I must disagree with most of the other reviewers, who argue that it was not a good idea for Deep Purple to co-headline with Skynyrd. Virtually every Skynyrd fan at these shows is becoming a Deep Purple convert. That is a good thing! Naturally, I would like a longer set, but maybe with all the additional fans they are picking up on this tour they will more easily be able to headline the next one. Sure, the Skynyrd fans are ugly, but lets welcome them into the Deep Purple fold!
After the show, we head back stage for the "meet and greet". These guys are soo nice. Pictures, handshakes, and guitar picks are graciously supplied. Bruce, the band's manager, even gets my son a drum stick to make up for the one I missed! Thanks, Bruce!
We left after about an hour to go back out for the rest of Skynyrd. They were very good, with the exception of some technical problems with Billy Powell's keyboards. His amp blew at a crucial moment and the band was not able to conceal it. Other than that they were tight and put on a great show. Don't listen to all these reviewers who claim to leave as soon as Deep Purple is over. If they do, it's because they are just old and it is past their bedtime. Stay for Skynyrd. Show them the respect that 99% of the Skynyrd fans show Deep Purple.
For the last word, stop with all this "Ritchie who?" shit. Steve Morse is great and I am convinced that he is the only man for this job. Ritchie was also great and created most of the riffs we are all dancing and singing along to. So, why don't we leave it at that. They are both great!