[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]
Anyway, let's get on with the story. The show was held at the Sunrise Musical Theater. Judging from the seating chart in the lobby I'd guess it holds about 4000 people. The auditorium itself is arranged in a semicircular manner. The stage itself is semicircular in shape and is immediately surrounded by rows of asscending seats (nice comfortable, fixed, movie theater style - good for sitting through the opening band.) The floor slopes up at a steep enough angle that you can easily see over the people in front of you, and the back row, where I sat, was at most 100 to 120 feet from the stage (great view). Above this was a single balcony, also semicircular. The merchandise on sale were the same items reported at the Corpus Christi Show. A black, hooded, long sleeve t-shirt with the "Battle Rages On" logo and some wierd symbols on the sleeve. Another black, short sleeve t-shirt with the "Machine Head" cover on the front and the DP logo on the back. Finally there was the black baseball cap with Deep Purple written across the front.
While waiting for the opening band to begin I noticed that the music being played over the sound system was a long string of "Police" songs. It just struck me as funny remembering an interview with Blackmore where he made some comment as to unconditionally hating anything by the "Police." The opening act itself, "Naked Rythem," was sort of South Florida's answer to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. They wound around somewhere in the no man's land between "alternative" and "heavy metal." The singer was a bald guy with flared pant legs and bowling shoes who tried to move like elvis. They definitely hit a low with their closing song "I'm a brown billy goat with great big genitals." We knew that they (the opening band) knew, that they were in trouble when, after the second or third song, failing to get much appluase, either for their music or for being from Ft. Lauderdale, the singer resorted to asking, "Are you ready for Deep Purple?!?" Which got them the most appluase (except maybe for announcing that the next song would be thier last.) When I first came into the stadium the stage was already set for Deep Purple (with a small area in front carved out for the opening act). Lord's organ and Gillan's congo drums were already in place. The roadies set up and tested several dry ice projectors that seemed to fizzle once or twice during the opening band but never did anything afterwards (ever). The stage was too small even to put a curtain in front of Purple's equipment and the only special effects during the show were from the lights (no lasers during perfect strangers). If anything though this was an asset to the show. What we got was a cozy, personal performance from Deep Purple with no flash or dazzle to get in the way.
The surprises began with the first beat of the drum as the band launched into it's opening number, "Fireball." The audience was immediately on it's feet (where it remained, dancing or swaying for most of the show). As "Fireball" wound down the band drove straight into, "Into the Fire," for a few bars before revealing that they were faking us out and instead moved into "Black Night," with the typical sing along.
Next up was a great performance of "The Battle Rages On." (my note taking got minimal during the songs - sorry but I was there to enjoy the band first and take notes second.)
Then, Gillan (who was very clear when singing, but somewhat harded to make out when speaking) make a few comments about this being a special outing for the band, to get out of the studio, play a few gigs and to try out some new material (which we knew). The next song was the first of three new numbers to be played that evening. I thought Gillan announced it as "Table Mechanic" but the concensus outside the show was that the had called it, "Ted the Mechanic." It started with a guitar intro from morse and then led into a slow powerfull chug-a- chug-a sort of riff, with lots of mean growling Hammond Organ. Personally I liked it although some of the other hard core fans I talked to after the show thought (all) the new songs weren't quite ready for prime time. I will mention that all three songs were cut from a similar cloth in the mood, tempo department. They were slower, heavier tunes with trademark "sneering, leering" Gillan lyrics. To me they seemed closest to "Nasty Piece of Work" (a personal favorite of mine), the original (ie Not the improved, faster, Joe Satriani version) "Maybe I'm a Leo" or many of the tracks from "In Rock." Anyway I liked it and will add that I've found that new Deep Purple songs often take a few listens to really grow on me. At first I'll be like, "Well, that's ok." then after a second listen, "That's really pretty good," and on a third listen be going, "Damn these guys are geniuses!" Personally, I think it bodes well for the future. I will add though that the crowd tended to sit more during the new songs.
Next, the band pulled another fast one, (putting the crowd on it's dancing feet again) by belting out the full length album version of "Woman from Tokyo." (complete with opening drum into and bum- dum-da-de-dum-da guitar licks, the quiet verse in the middle, the piano solo, and the closing verse.)
Next up was the second new song, which, as Gillan put it, "is tentatively titled, `Perpendicular Waltz.'" The above comments apply. My notes show that it was "heavy, slow, and brooding with lots of organ." Again, I liked it but the crowd sat.
Gillan announced that the next song was written in 71 during the machine head sessions - "When a blind man cries." Morse gave a long "volume swell" intro before delving into the song, and doing a very nice, gut tearing, bluesy job of it.
Then, "from 1984 - Perfect Strangers." I have a million live versions of this number and have heard it even more times but I swear to god this song has gotten better over the years. It struck me as being darker and more powerful (especially compared to the studio version). I kind of expected to be a little bored but instead In my notes I just wrote, "Wow!" Morse also did a version of the little trills that Satriani added to the peice. At the end Gillan made his usual allusion to the "Perfect Street Rangers." "Pictures of Home" was next. This has been a favorite of mine since I first played "Machine Head" and I was blown away with Satriani's version. Arranagement wise this was very similar and abousutly knocked me out. (You'll see I have very little - if anything negative to say about this evening.)
Next was a keyboard solo (with some organ rocking) leading into the opening phrase from "Knocking at your Back Door." (crowd goes nuts). Then the bass lines kicks in, which reminds me. The sound was exceptionally clear (as well as loud). Each instrument really stood out (except for the guitar which occasionally seemed to blend into the mix).
Gillan then suggested that we all sit down for the next number. No, not a new one, one written in 1969, "Anyone's Daughter." Morse really stood out on this tune (several others commented on it later.) He added some very subtle, but tricky trills to the main riff. A lot of Morse's solo and Dixie Dregg's material, while very sophisticated, has a lot of "country" feel to it. Morse put all of that into "Daughter" which has a natural, country twang of it's own, and I'd say put down the best yet version of this song.
Another song written in 69 came next. "Child in Time." Gillan's voice was good, the screams were great....Lord's intro perfect.... Morse also performed some of the "guitar, backup screaming, that Satriani did.) (Mind you though that, Morese tended to do more of his own thing solowise than Satriani did, he just seemed to borrow some of the latest refinements.) Morse's solo was fast and intense and definitely a new take on the song (He's faster I think than Malmsteen who was reported to be in the audience as he lives in nearby Miami - just listen to "Tumeni Notes" from "Hi Tension Wires") Speaking of which, the closing passages (which I can play VERY slowly) came out faster (and clearer) than I've ever heard them from Blackmore or Satriani. That was a stunning cap on the solo, but frankly I've never heard a live version of CIT from any of them that, in my mind, can touch the solo on the orginal studio version. There's something magic about it and as far as I'm concerned even Blackmore's best since then never really hit it. Anyway- it was still a great song......
Anya of course came next and came off very strongly (notes saay "Song Rocked"). I think Morse's solo session was a little shorter than Blackmore and Satriani's versions but quite good. Solowise I liked it better than CIT. Next was the last of the three new songs, "Soon Forgotten," which some outside felt would be it's fate. Again I'll disagree. At first I didn't like it but it rapidly grew on me, becoming quite dramatic. Although not musically the same, it had a sort of harder, "Stargazer"- like epicness as it built to it's end. Some of the keyboards in the middle passage also had a certain, dissonant quality to them. (My notes here remark, "better and better.") Gillan then announced the next song as, "Lazy." Here again I was hoping to get an album version (the slow, building, hold you in suspense till the quiet guitar lick rings out version). I got half my wish, they basically played the whole song but still did it in the superfast guitar kicks it off and not the organ solo way. (Damn it - the only live version where they play this right is on "In Concert.") Prior to the fast opening licks however, Morse played through a slow, quiet building solo (very nice). My wishes asside, however, it came off really well. (This is my all time favorite DP song.) Looking at my notes I guess I shouldn't be so hard on this song. Regarding Morse's solo I wrote "Morse melts the arena - big appluase for this soloing."
As usual of late, Lazy led into the drum solo. The comments from the Corpus Christi concert echoed what I'd been saying about Paices solo from Dallas in 85. It was really fun and entertaining. The same held true tonight. The only other drum solo I've ever enjoyed was from Omar Hakim on Sting's first solo tour (I didn't really want to see Sting, but my date did.) Gillan introduced the next song as "a ballad." Speed King. The guitar work was different here, very Steve Morse, I wasn't sure at first if it fit my mental model of speed king. It kept building up and intertwining with the keyboards and rasiing in intensity and moved very much into the "fierce" Speed King spirit and by the end of the song I was very much sold. Blown away is more like it. Again Morse is different from Blackmore but he fits in, in a very appropriate way. I feel good about the future of the band. And that did it for the main part of the show. The band said thank you, waved and left the stage.
The cloud clapped and cheered and within 30 seconds to a minute tops the band was back. (Very cool. I took my sister to a Huey Lewis concert once where the band stayed off stage for almost 10 minutes.) It was now 11:10 (Deep Purple started playing at 9:15).
My guess for the first song back was correct. "This song was written in a bus...." and the band fired off into an excellent version of Highway Star. The only question now was how many songs in the encore? The next song up though put that to rest as Morse started into "Smoke on the Water." The band played through the standard show closing long version complete with sing along. Both numbers rocked and put an excellent finish on a great evening. For these two songs Morse tracked Blackmore's original solos almost exactly. When it all was over (sorry) it was just after 11:30. The band said thier thank yous (to great response) and said good night.
After an hour or so Steve Morse pulled out in a black, four door, Nissan Sentra (last years model). He pulled over beside us and got out to chat and sign autographs. He was quickly (gently) mobbed by a crowd of mutual Steve Morse/Deep Purple fans/Guitar players and he chatted about amps, pickups and guitars while signing various autographs. I managed to get one myself and he includes a "cartoon guitar" below his signature.
About an hour later, the rest of the band (sans Gillan, who was busy sneaking out while we were distracted - he waved to us though) came out in a Lincoln Town Car. They pulled up and Roger Glover got out to sign autographs while Lord and Paice did autographs through the windows. In this melee I managed to get Jon Lord's (after dropping my pen in his lap). All of them were very nice, and although tired, were very appreciative of the small crowd. The guy ahead of me in line to Jon Lord remarked that this was his first time to see them live and Lord smartly quipped, "Well see that it's not the last." (Speaking of this Gillan made reference to hopefully seeing us around next year after the release of the new album.)
In that vein there were repeated pleas for future U.S. tours. A number of us had flown in for the show. Me, another guy from the Houston area and someone from Connecticut. Morse in fact was quite surprised by this, mentioning that the whole thing was supposed to have been kept kind of quiet and low key. No such luck with the internet.
Anyway it was a tremendous show. The band played brilliantly and I got my first live fix of Deep Purple in 10 years and about six weeks. I think Morse turned in a very nice performance and will work well with the band. It's hard to see these guys play live and imagine any other band who could hold up next to them on stage or any twenty somethings with half of their energy and vitality (not to mention talent).
I'll close here with a condensed set list from the show.
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