[ d e e p P u r . p l e ) The Highway Star

21 April, Sydney review - alternative view!

Er, sorry, having read the reviews of this gig, I must be a very different type of Deep Purple fan, or the less than glowing reviews don't get posted here. [We publish both good and bad reviews of course. We almost never get any bad reviews though... - Ed.]

I've loved Deep Purple's sound and irreverent attitude for a long time now, like many others, and they're one of the very few bands I liked when I was 12 that I still feel strongly about. I saw them during the last Australian tour in '84, and those gigs were awesome - even though by then my msucial taste had moved on, Deep Purple were a showcase of strength, a legend adding an energetic encore to their earlier success.

First of all, congratulations to Ian, Jon, Ian and Roger - you were all fantastic, didn't miss a beat, Ian's voice and energy is amazing - move up the mandatory retirement age for rockstars now!

On the other hand, the one thing that everyone else seemed to love, was the one letdown for me - Steve's guitar style. To me (and my friend!) it sounded like mid-eighties california metal.

Totally contrary to other reviews, I just can't get see any emotion in it - it's fast, it shows off, and ultimately is out of sync with most of the songs. When he came in during "Lazy", my friend and I both collapsed with laughter, it was so Spinal Tap, so obviously out of place, so absolutely the same as his take on every solo that night! And as far as having to be a guitarist to appreciate his talent goes, I've been playing for 18 years and while I don't for a moment dispute Steve's obvious technical prowess and professionalism, I still think that in terms of both sound texture and pacing, he could have done better by staying closer to the era in which the original songs belong. With the new ones, cool, go for it, they're Steve's own songs and they're DP where they're at now, but frankly I think top speed guitarnoodling without reference to the structure of the song is an eighties affliction best left right out of Deep Purple's pre-90's catalogue.

I can understand why Ritchie isn't there anymore; whilst I'd love to think that his presence would have fixed everything, looking at this current project, he seems to have gone off into Dungeons and Dragons land and probably would not have his heart in it. You can see how Steve's relaxed professional attitude must be a relief to the rest of the guys; but on the other hand it was the unpredictability of Ritchie, his pre-Eddie Van Halen playing style, and that myth of the genius enfant-terrible that made pre-Steve gigs such an event (when RB felt like it, of course).

Perhaps a player like Janick Gers or the other, earlier guy from the Gillan band (can't believe I forgot his name! What the... [Bernie Torme - Ed.]) would've been a better way forward; when they played with Gillan, there was a mix between modern and sixties guitar there (I think Gers loved Hendrix!) that would have been a great addition to the band after Blackmore left. Not the same, who wants a faceless stand-in without a personality after all, but someone to keep the anarchic, loose, slightly out-of-control sound going that was so evident on "Made in Japan". Someone with an affinity for the Hendrix contemporary era style of single coil guitar fluidity, someone without a sound controlled tightly by rack gear, someone a bit more out of control, relying on feel and the tubes in their vintage Marshalls holding out until the encore at least...

Mind you, from the looks of it at the gig, it was my friend and myself with the sole two dissenting opinions in the middle of a full house at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, wearing our skivvies, with our old vinyl copies of "Machine Head" etc at home, tooling about with our own bands, surrounded by thousands of black T-shirt wearing ecstatically happy fans, so what the ... do we know - Deep Purple including Steve are the ones doing this as their day jobs so they're probably right and we'll get back to our indie gigs playing our sixties guitars through our sixties amps, like Sonic Youth and cohorts.

No hate mail please, my record/CD collection has done it's bit for DP's pay cheques, so I don't deserve it!

Peter Rohen

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