Tour highlights, May-July 2001
These excerpts are taken from the reviews on The Highway Star. They cover the May-July 2001 shows of Italy and North America. You can read the complete reviews here. Thanks to everyone who has submitted their reviews.
Modena, Italy with Luciano Pavarotti
It may have been 50 degrees but Purple warmed the crowd up! I'm 50 years old and have been a Purple fan since 1968. To top off my evening I had the luck of catching one of Paice's drum sticks!
I'm only a teen and been listening to Purple for about seven or eight years now and I had been waiting for them to come to concert for the longest time. I finally got my wish.
Whoever came up with idea of having Lynyrd Skynyrd headline this triumvirate of rockers was smoking some bad weed. Not to knock Skynyrd, but Purple they ain't.
Roger Glover was very friendly and has a unique stage presence. He and Steve do just a little 'Status Quo' move with their guitars, for those who don't know it, it's like 'swinging saxophones', or The Shadows. They don't overdo it, it's fun.
Saturday night, Texas summer heat, rock, and blues
I thought, "This band is *really* cooking tonight!" But the star of these festivities is TMIB - the man in BACK - Mr. Paice! The 'Paice de Resistance;' "Fools!!!" At one point I actually had a tear in my eye. God, this man can play!
I noticed Glover and Gillan regarding Steve during a solo with what seemed like more than simple appreciation for the latter's brilliant musicianship.
Ian Gillan was wearing bright red leather pants, a white leather jacket (it was replaced midway through the first song), and no shoes. Last night was my 10-year-old daughter's second time to see DP. She amazed me and several others around us with her knowledge of every lyric to the songs Purple played and her "Smoke On The Water" boogie was a definite hit. Another generation of Purple fans has been born!!
Ian Paice's drum solo was a very special treat. He used one hand in sections and played what normally two hands would play. My 14-year-old son Derek enjoyed the show and simply stated "Now, that's real music, Dad!" The playing of Jon, Roger & Ian continues to set a standard most groups can only dream of.
I didn't stop smiling through the entire show.
I loved "Mary Long" to death, after longing to hear it live for oh so many years. According to Ian, the song was about two very annoying people named Mary and Lord(!), and when he sang the line about Johnny writing too many trash, he jumped onto Jon's platform and sang the entire verse standing right next to him! Man, just watching this made me thank God that I was alive! Jon treated us with a superb short solo going into "Lazy" which had many in the crowd exploding in joy.
Ian kept saying Italian ballad and nice lullaby and so on, then here comes "Good Golly said little Miss Molly" in the classic "In Rock" Ian Gillan fashion. Loved it, loved it, loved it. It was so good, I had to run up to the merchandise stand to grab a "Highway Star" t-shirt before I left the hall.
The only thing I can really complain about was Ian Gillan's clothes. Too much of the time he looked like he should be going golfing. It was too big a contrast to the rest of the band, who looked like bikers in various stages of life (Roger - the hippie biker, Ian Paice - the "bad ass" biker, Steve - young, spiritual biker, Jon - ex-biker made good, Ian Gillan - Golfer).
Ian Gillan has outdone himself with his short cropped hairdo and his prancing around onstage on bare feet and in hot pink leather pants. He can still deliver those "I thaaaaaaaaaaank yeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuu's" perfectly!
Finally, cross a bunch of pick-up-driving, motorcycle-riding, beer-swilling guys & gals, add "Highway Star" to the mix and you know what the reaction is going to be. It was priceless!
A guy came up to me and handed me a Steve Morse pick. He said if I liked them enough to wear a t-shirt they weren't even selling at the show then I was a big enough fan to deserve a pick.
"Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" and "Fools" were both simply unbelievable! The band played with such emotion throughout those two numbers that I nearly had tears welling in my eyes. Gillan's constant response to the cheers was "Superb. I thank you." He even mentioned at one point how they were loving the vibe the audience was sending their way. I was disappointed that they didn't play a single song off of "Abandon." Gillan mistakenly said that "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" was from "Abandon" and that was the closest they got to that album.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw on The Highway Star that the group was going to be at Riverbend. Finally!
"Fools" - super heavy!!!! The loudest response was saved for "Smoke On The Water". The crowd was deafening! It made the hair on my neck stand up! Come back again please!! As I walked away, I thought about how Steve more than fills Ritchie Blackmore's shoes. Everyone was smiling a lot and really seemed to be enjoying themselves onstage. "Highway Star" - my brother yelled "I was hoping for this one". So was I! Steve made his guitar rev up like the sound of a car. WOW!
I really liked the fact that they were like other UK bands in that their musicianship and their showmanship spoke for itself. No glitz and glamour required.
They all stood out, but I think Ian Gillan was the star of the show. There is not another singer like him in rock music. No one has the ability to project like Gillan. Considering his age and the rock wars that he has slogged through over the years, he is even more amazing. And he still has a range that, on the deep end is reminiscent of a whiskey-chugging bluesman, and, on the high end makes one wonder if he has testicles at all.
This was my first dose of Purple Passion since May 4, 1973, when I saw the band in Lincoln, Nebraska. It's great to see that my boyhood idols not only still have what it takes, but actually can surpass the levels of intensity they have achieved in the past. I was very impressed with the way that Steve Morse has re-energized this band.
"Fools" seemed to be lost on the audience until it was over, when the crowd came to life and gave a standing ovation so I guess they WERE listening after all.
With his own brand of charisma and a cocky sort of grace, Ian Gillan assumed the role of King of Omaha for the next 75 minutes. The band was working like a well oiled machine behind him, giving him the solid platform needed to work his magic on the audience. I stood in a sea of ecstatic faces, basking in the glow from the world's greatest rock band.
Did anyone notice that in "Smoke On The Water," when Ian sang about Frank Zappa and the Mothers, Roger and Steve played a harmonized unison line from the Frank Zappa instrumental "Peaches En Regalia?"
Just as Gillan was beginning to sing "Lazy" during the Houston show, he blurted out, "Can I see that again? Excuse me. Can I see them again please? Thank You," while gesturing to someone in the front of the crowd. He then segued right into the harmonica solo without missing a beat (with that smile on his face). I was standing very near the woman in question. Let me just reassure all that she was an extremely beautiful blonde with a great body and HUGE breasts! Certainly worthy of Ian's attention to interrupt the lyrics of "Lazy" in front of 15,000 people and make her lift her top up. It was a very funny moment because Ian was very loud and demanding about it. At the end of the song he added, "Thank you, you're wonderful!" to the audience and then, "And thank you both. Superb."
Gillan took the stage in bright red leather pants that were so loose that he was constantly jumping up and hiking them back up to his waist. He also wore a loose blue work shirt... Fashion conscious as ever, our Ian!
I don't think there's a better drummer than Paice. It's effortless. After watching Nugent's drummer pound the snot out of his drums, it was nice so see someone like Paice really swing, and make it look effortless and achieve the same lever of dynamic. He's so smooth. It's too bad that to crack the United States Purple has to be part of these package tours. They are not an oldies band, they are a band with a past that creates new music.
There I was, 42 years old and in my glory... a beautiful night, 7th row, my rock'n'roll heroes... What more could anyone ask for?????
If the band are now inclined to do canned greatest hits, I don't understand why they don't get into an agreement with Blackmore to tour every few moons to fund the pension plan. At least we will get the real Deep Purple playing with fire and brimstone with water throwing to douse the flames! And not playing second banana to other bands.
Meanwhile, the owner of the vacant seat that I was in came back to claim it. I looked up at Ian G and shrugged as if to say "Oh, well!" but to my surprise he motioned for me to come up onstage! (For real!) I jumped over the barrier and was given an "All Area Access" pass. This was very, very cool... I had never seen a show from the stage before!!! The band's magical chemistry onstage never fails to amaze me. Smiling, laughing, interacting with the audience... These guys love their fans and it shows!
A neat moment was during "Speed King", amidst the improvised part, when Ian Gillan acted out a scene involving his woman giving him hell for partying too much. It reminded me a little of "No Laughing In Heaven" from his solo days.
I've been a DP fan since "Fireball" in 1971. I've seen every tour since 1976. I am as happy as anyone that they are still cooking. Roger seemed to be adding extra bass lines where there usually aren't any, most noticeably at he beginning of "Highway Star". While Steve did his engine revving thing that he does so well, Roger let his bass walk a little bit, much to Steve and Ian's astonishment/surprise. Ian walks toward Rog smiling, and Roger laughing, as if to say (in Pee Wee Herman voice) "I meant to do that"
There was also a great distraction of the show. Sitting next to me was a beautiful, big breasted gal, who just loved to show her jugs to the band. At one point, during "Lazy", IG had to drag Steve across the stage and show him (and I read his lips:) "you gotta see what we have over here". IG personally handed over his harmonica to her at the end of the song. Ian Paice came rushing over, dropped to his knees and bowed to this lovely gal at the end and also handed over his sticks.
Another highlight is Ted Nugent coming down after two DP tunes and sitting, just three seats away and enjoying Purple's set. The set? I refuse to complain about a favorite song not being played because I know of the time limitations on this tour, plus they played my favorite song from "Fireball", "Fools". What a treat! I really do like the 2001 version of the song.
If you don't give Ian Gillan a chance to talk to the audience, something is missing from the show.
I'm only 15 now and had a great time. Gillan is just great! I was very happy with how enthusiastic the band was and so on their feet the whole time. It felt soooooo strange to be at a DP gig where half of the people in the first 10 rows don't even stand up before the encore!!!
For me, the highlight was "When A Blind Man Cries", a very soulful rendition of such a passionate song. The energy of the evening had spiraled, much like the clay on a potter's wheel. Group and audience were very enmeshed, spinning, moulding, pushing, fashioning plateaus and curves, and in the end the experience itself was a work of art to be treasured. I will never tire of the music, it is simply enchanting! Thanks DP for the aesthetic contribution to Spirit - it's what makes us love you so much.
A funny incident during the first number, "Woman From Tokyo", was that someone threw a beach ball (with some message inscribed on it) onto the stage, which Ian Gillan kicked back into the audience, and throughout the number, the ball kept being bounced around amoungst the audience! (It nearly hit my bunnies, too!!)
Steve Morse played a bit of "Love Hurts" with Dan McCafferty from Nazareth joining on vocals. Later, Glover, Paice and Morse came out during Skynyrd's set to sing backup vocals for "Sweet Home Alabama".
1. Not enough newer stuff.
It was over all too soon. Unlike Skynyrd's constant appeals for audience reaction, Purple only had to play to get the crowd begging for another encore. DAMN, this band is great! I wouldn't want to be in Skynyrd's shoes, having to follow this band onstage night after night...
After "Perfect Strangers", Ian Gillan asked for the house lights and said he had noticed someone in the front wearing a Tommy Bolin t-shirt. I started freaking out and jumping up and down and he came over and pointed down at me. Ian then dedicated the next song to the memory of "a lovely human being and a great guy, Mr. Tommy Bolin. It's been 25 years since his unfortunate death, and this next one is for him." They started "When A Blind Man Cries" - a beautiful, emotional song made even more poignant by Ian's touching dedication. "When A Blind Man Cries" has lost none of it's emotional impact, and I still get misty-eyed and goosebumps down my spine whenever they do it.
Checking The Highway Star tour listings frequently, I was very happy to find them finally on a US tour. Something to note was that they actually played "Knocking At Your Back Door." At first, Ian goofed at told us that it was going to be "When A Blind Man Cries", but then changed his mind and announced "Knocking" as the next song. It was a real treat to hear and everyone was in top form.
At the end of "When A Blind Man Cries" a large number of the audience in the middle and back sections stood up to cheer.
Steve does his racing car sounds on his guitar, and the band launches into "Highway Star". Great song, great reaction from the crowd! Steve and Roger were doing a headbanging routine several times during the song, like some 1980s hair band, and the audience was eating it up! The band had this audience in the palm of their hands and it was a shame to see them leave the stage. The crowd was roaring, banging on the seats, screaming. I think they made some new friends tonight.