High on Purple
I'll try to collect my thoughts and experiences into one cohesive review but I took in so much information (and beer) last night that everything has started to blend together.
Unfortunately the night before the show the local entertainment paper had a brief article on the show with the usual inaccuracies and "Blackmore is gone" crap. It upsets me that the internet makes research easy for music writers but they still make no effort. I emailed The Highway Star address to the articles author and told him to READ it. If anyone is interested in his drivel I will type it out when I get a chance. [Please do. Rasmus] This did not put me in the right mindset for the show.
As many of you know, when Purple came around the last time I was able to put together a nice gathering of Deep Purple fans before the Great Woods show (now the Tweeter Center). Due to schedules and lack of foreign guests (missed you guys) I was unable/unmotivated to set up such a party this time around. [Read more about Rich's excellent pre-show party in 1998. Rasmus] I was however excited to be bringing my 12 year old nephew to his first concert. Upon arrival at the show I had the happy surprise of after-show passes and much upgraded seats! This, along with the 2-3 vodka and lemons I had put away, had me in a great mood and state of mind. Attending the concert with me and my nephew: The very lovely Julie (my wife), and three members of my band Mark, Kevin and Bill (this will be important later). I actually attended my very first Deep Purple show with Mark during the "Perfect Strangers" tour, we still joke about our hearing loss! ;-) [Sorry? Rasmus]
We entered the shed and checked out the merchandise booth. For those that asked there is no new program, they are still using the "Concerto" program from Europe. They were selling the "Total Abandon" video and CD as well as the "A Band Down Under" and "Around The World" videos (and DVD). They also had a DP hat, pin and the Australia shaped CD single of "Smoke On The Water". The T-shirts were pretty cool if not WAY overpriced ($35 and $40!). They had one with "Deep Purple" on the front in a swirl design and the dates for North America on the back (in black and also in blue/purple tie dye). There was one with a car on the front with "Deep Purple" and on the back "She's a killing machine she's got everything" (purple colored shirt if I recall). They also had a long sleeve jersey with the "In Rock" cover. Julie picked up the female spaghetti strap tank top with rainbow colored (very 70's) "Deep Purple" across the front. I think that covers it [Only just, huh? ;^) Rasmus], didn't want to bore you but I know some find this stuff interesting.
As I ordered my drink I could hear Ted Nugent hitting the stage. I could care less about him but it was my nephew's first concert experience so in we went. With drink in hand we made our way to DEAD CENTER section 2 about 12-15 rows back. I realized I had now spoiled future concerts for my nephew. ;-)
Ted Nugent was... well... Ted Nugent. Never been a big fan although it was fun to hear "Cat Scratch Fever", probably not unlike hearing "Smoke On The Water" is for the casual listener of Purple. They did sound good for a three piece. Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Coverdale, etc) was playing bass and a 21 year old newcomer looked VERY happy to be up there playing drums. Ted has a foul mouth and seemed to swear just to swear. He had some hardcore fans packed up front but other than the hits the rest of the still arriving audience seemed unmoved.
It was HOT AND HUMID! As Deep Purple time neared, the venue seemed pretty full except the very edges of the back sections. I would say the seats were 80%+ full and there were a good number of people hanging out on the lawn. It did seem to be a Skynyrd crowd but I ran in to a fair amount of people who were only there for DP. I made a quick drink run and got back to my seat just as DP took the stage. Ian Gillan looked great, he was trim, tan and just looked the healthiest I have ever seen him. For those who care, Ian Paice had his usual set up, Roger was using 4 (steel grill) Ampeg cabs and his usual bass (sorry can't see that far ;-). Steve had four stacks of 4 X 12 Peavey cabs. Looked like he was playing through three Peavey 51/50 heads and one 51/52. I did get the full rundown of his set-up from his technician, Scoot [So did he finally reveal all? Rasmus], later in the evening but I was a bit fuzzy brained by then (sorry). Jon Lord had his usual set up and IG's conga's were dead center stage. They had very little of the stage to use and seemed crammed up front, Skynyrd had taken the lions share of the stage. The backdrop was a large moon with what looked like sunset colors around it. Across the top and sides was painted an old theater style red velvet curtain, it looked as if the curtain had been pulled aside to reveal the moon. Very effective backdrop I thought.
The set list was as follows, I will comment on each:
"Woman From Tokyo": Great opener and got the crowd going. The middle section still blows me away. Ian was reaching a little on the high notes but overall sounded great. His voice seems to get stronger each tour. This was the first time I have seen Steve Morse era DP and not heard one call for Blackmore, it was a nice change. No one seemed to care that Blackmore was not there and many were excited to see "the guitar player from the Dregs". From this point on I had a big smile on my face (I don't smile often).
"Ted": Kept people on their feet and had an even better groove than usual. It was about this time I looked over to the two guitar players from my band who literally were standing with their mouths open as SM played his solo. For the last three-four years I have been telling people to see DP live, now I had converted most of my band in one fell swoop! ;-)
"Lazy": One of my faves, JL played some great solos and Steve was on fire. The band was obviously ''on' and having a great time. Mansfield seems to be a good venue for them. On the "Abandon" tour they had an incredible show and it seemed we were headed that way again.
"Knocking At Your Back Door": I had not seen the set list from the night before so I was unaware that this had been added back! (Nice to be surprised.) I have said for years that "KAYBD" should be played in the U.S. - it was a big hit here and I figured it would go over big. I must admit it did not go over as well as I thought it would. The crowd reacted well but I thought it would take the house down (it didn't). It was great to hear this one again and SM added all sorts of bits and pieces to liven it up. As many of you know, I am a SM addict I think he saved DP from themselves and made them a new band. For the first time I have to admit this song lacks Blackmore's touch. It is just better suited to his playing. I was also sad that "No One Came" was the song cut since it is my all time favorite.
"Fools": Great to finally hear it live but the crowd had a lukewarm reaction. Some sat down, some made a run for the bathroom. "No One Came" would have been a better choice for a lesser known song. The solo was handled by JL which disappointed me, SM does incredible volume control wok and I was hopping he would be showcased on the song. Still a stunning version.
"Pictures Of Home": Great as usual, very well received by the crowd and SM really stood out again. My friend Mark looked over at me after the solo and said, "I quit." ;-) They have made this song into something really special.
"Perfect Strangers": After a very brief JL solo (actually more like noodling), the familiar organ beginning was welcomed with a big cheer. A crowd pleaser for sure. The lights were less effective than usual because it was only dusk but it did set a cool mood. The band was clearly hitting their stride. Ian backsold this song as "a song called "Perfect Strangers" from and album called "Perfect Strangers"."
"When A Blind Man Cries": Ian introduced this one as being about remembering that there is always someone less fortunate than you. GREAT version. Some of the most tasteful playing I have ever heard. I was surprised when it came time for what is usually the first guitar solo and JL ripped into a phenomenal keyboard solo (I hope someone taped this show!)
SM Guitar Parade/"Smoke On The Water": SM started the parade with Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" - this got a rise out of my crowd because we open our gigs with that song! Ian and Roger joined in and they played the whole intro. Next up was "Sunshine Of Your Love" (Cream), again with RG and IP, this was followed by the entire solo from "Stairway To Heaven" and this got a huge reaction from the crowd and I have to admit I was into hearing DP play it (better then ZEP!). Steve started "You Really Got Me" and just as the band, including IG, started in he stopped them short!!!!! He then played "Daytripper" and "Johnny B Goode" (I think, it was just a short lick). Then as the first notes rang of "Smoke On The Water" the crowd was on its feet. The energy continued through "Smoke On The Water" and through the encores.
"Hush": Was received with the same enthusiasm (if not more) than "SOTW". Ian brought a young girl on stage (7 years old maybe?) I spoke to her backstage... Meg Caseau. A very sweet young girl with very nice parents. Having her up on stage put a really nice vibe out and put a smile on my face. [Her dad sent in a review. Rasmus]
"Highway Star": Another crowd pleaser. Great version, incredible power.
When all was said and done, Purple rocked the place and owned the stage for 75 minutes (or so) that they were out there. The crowd loved them and they seemed to feed off of the crowd reaction. The guys from my band were duly impressed and my nephew's reaction... "AWESOME!"
Awesome indeed. Another killer show from the greatest band out there.
Lynyrd Skynyrd was up next but I skipped them and headed backstage. I saw them a month ago and they were good but definitely just going through the motions. My friend who watched their set and is big Skynyrd fan was unimpressed and said Purple was far better. He felt Skynyrd was negative and demanding crowd reaction whereas Purple was having fun and including the crowd in their fun.
Once backstage I had a few beers so things may get fuzzier from this point on.
First up Marco Mendoza. I called him over and said that we were having an argument about who he was. He immediately said, "No, I am not him, that's not me." I said "Did you not play with Lizzy??" His eyes lit up and he was excited that I had not mistaken him for the Marco Mendoza from Twisted Sister (as must happen often). He was very friendly and spoke to us for a while. Among the interesting things he said was that he has recorded another album with Coverdale that is done and "in the can". He said there are some negotiations going on and it may be released as a Whitesnake album. Also playing on the tracks is Earl Slick! I said that it was nice to hear Coverdale "sing again" and he said that the record company felt differently and wanted a Hairsnake album, so he may be screaming again. ;-( Marco will be with Lizzy again soon as well as a solo CD playing 6 string fretless bass that he is very excited about. Very nice guy!
I spoke with Mark Roper from CMC records and he said that the Bolin era stuff will be out shortly. A live show from Japan was all he said (or at least all I heard). Nice to talk to him again, a true DP fan.
Next up SM and RG came to great about 20 of us that were in the backstage area. SM and my friend Mark talked planes a bit and Steve commented on what a good crowd it was tonight. He seemed very distracted but hung around for a long time. My nephew was thrilled with his autograph and guitar picks (as was I) and I must add that SM, RG and IG were great with all the kids backstage. Made them all feel very special.
As he was leaving I heard someone suggest "Limelight" for his guitar parade. Steve seemed to like the idea and said he would have to teach it to Roger! Rush fans get excited! ;-)
I then spoke to RG for a bit. We covered many subjects such as travel, Spain vs. Italy, the fact that he is a vegetarian, family and of course music. I asked about the inclusion of "Knocking At Your Back Door". He said they had added it back in the night before because "it was a big hit in the U.S." He said they had not played it in a while because they don't like to play it. Roger said that it is a very boring song to play and none of them like performing it. It was clear that he especially does not like playing it. ;-) I asked about his solo CD which he said he has just finished and is very pleased with. I asked him to describe it and he said, "Nothing like Purple." He said he started with people like JJ Cale in mind, singer songwriter types. Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers, Govt. Mule) guests on the CD and Roger said he really hit the nail on the head. I for one can't wait to hear this CD.
I then asked about the next Purple CD, he said, "There will be one." Roger did not want to get into too much detail because he said they get superstitious. He did tell me that they will be using an outside producer and that they expect it out next year sometime. They have a few ideas already but nothing solid.
I asked him to explain what he had meant when he spoke of concentrating on the U.S. He said that the band did not want to "overstay their welcome in Europe". Roger said the band felt like they have done Europe to death in the past few years. It seemed to me that the idea of hitting the U.S. has less to do with raising awareness here and more to do with avoiding overexposure in Europe.
Roger then excused himself to get another Sam Adams beer and asked if he could get me anything!!! I said, "Sure, I'll take a Sam's." A short time later he returned with 2 draft beers in hand and delivered one to me. My friend Mark said, "Let me get this straight, Roger Glover just asked if he could get YOU anything??" I am/was very impressed with myself. ;-) What can I say, Roger is a true gentleman and is good to his fans.
IG came out a little later and seemed VERY distracted. We complimented him on his appearance which he credited to swimming and laying off of the booze (with drink in hand ). He also said that he had a bad ear infection and was having some trouble hearing. He blamed the swimming he has been doing for causing the recurring ear trouble. Ian said that the crowd tonight had been great and the energy was incredible. He said the band really fed off of the crowd and was pleased with the show. We chatted about many other topics..... no concrete plans for another solo CD but he is thinking about one. He said, "Purple is always my priority." I always hope to make a connection with Ian when I talk to him but I never seem to get through, it is frustrating but then again, who am I, right?
The 'best conversation of the evening' award once again goes to SM's guitar technician Scoots. I wish I could tell all the stories because I was laughing hard for about 20 minutes straight. He told us how Peavey had bungled a simple order to change Steve's cabs from white to black (you just had to be there). It was one great story after another. He then gave my friend Mark and in-depth description of Steve's whole set up. I was way too far gone at that point but I may be able to answer questions so ask away. I did find it interesting that Steve runs 4 separate stacks, 2 clean and 2 with effects. He can bring in the effects cabs as needed to any degree he wishes. Scoots said this panics the soundman when he hears another guitar! ;-)
I should note at this time that Moray was the sound man and did an incredible job. He is unbelievable, absolutely the best I have ever heard. Scooter told me that DP does not get a sound check and are lucky to even get a line check. He then added in a very sarcastic voice that Skynyrd gets a sound check! Well, Moray apparently does not need a soundcheck because DP sounded great.
As Lynyrd Skynyrd finished, with symbols still ringing they were ushered past all their backstage pass guests (the few they let back) and onto their bus. They do not meet their fans or even shake their hands. I ambushed them and shook each of their hands, they seemed scared by this change in their usual schedule but were all very pleasant. Sad they don't meet and greet their fans, they have many diehards.
Well that is it, I will not edit my thoughts, just clean up the spelling. Forgive the rambling, I just went with stream of consciousness. Ask any questions - there is probably all kinds of stuff I have left out (hard to believe ;-).
My friends and nephew were all blown away by DP. I know I have created some new fans and rekindled some old fans.
I can't wait till CT!!!!!!