Ed Nimmervoll reviews the Melbourne concert
It happened! After a long hard dry spell in which the without-it promotors
used as little money or imagination in bringing out overseas acts, we saw
a whirlwind tour by three top British bands. It was a chance for a really
enjoyable night of music. And it was a chance to be up with "what's
happening" overseas. A chance, even, to see how good our own groups
have become in comparison.
I got to the festival hall in Melbourne just before the scheduled
starting time. There was the expected murmur of anticipation in the large
audience but I really would not have guessed that Pirana had already
made their appearance. By reports they played a fine set that included
the inevitable version of Santana's "Soul Sacrifice". In recent months
there's been a lot of talk about Pirana. I've seen them work. I watched
them help on Greg Quill's album. And I've heard their own album and single.
I've come to the conclusion that it would be hard to collect a better bunch
of musicians. They could match the very best from anywhere. But they
seem to have spend some time listening to the work of overseas groups
and instead of developing something of their own are currently very
imitative. Which is sad, considering the high standard of their
He's an incredible performer, obviously inspirational for the rest of the band who quite naturally copy small parts of his performance as they play. They stomp like him. The bass player did little runs to and from the amps. All this came to amazing physical climaxes during the odd instrumental break, where Paul might be on his bended knee with the mike stand over the other or high above his head or he might be strutting and prancing with the two guitarists moving to lesser extends with him.
That's the visual part of Free, the packaging. Contained therein is an interesting music style. Unfortunately a lot of the qualities of Paul's voice were lost, possibly because of the acoustics. The interest of free is in their economy. Theirs is not a music built from a layer of bass over drums over vocals over guitar. The seperate parts come in and out, whereever and whenever they're required. At one point I noticed just drums and vocals. This means that the seperate parts of Free have much more impact when they do come in. The don't have to solo for you to notice the seperate parts. But because they restrict themselves to the structures of their original songs, it isn't as easy to recognise their musical abilities. The drummer did a job instead of competing for a rating as a drummer.
By the time they got to "All Right Now" the audience was well with Free. As an encore they came back with the one non-original "The Hunter" from their first album.
Manfred Mann came on after a short delay. Obviously both Free and
Manfred Mann had taken the trouble to tune their instruments beforehand.
Apparently in England and America there is very little of the on-stage
tuning up that we suffer continually here. Of course, it's understandable
in the case where a band is moving from spot to spot on the single
Deep Purple were very very disappointing. Individually they were
the best musicians we saw that night, but it very rarely came to
anything. Noise, distortions, aggressiveness in music is only relevant
if it means something within a piece of music. I got bored with the
persistent fierce screeching noises created by the guitarist as he
pawned and clawed and ripped at his guitar. Once he scraped the strings
against the top edge of the amp. All of it is good to watch IF it means
something in the music. It rarely did. But then he would play some nicely
controlled runs that proved he was capable of anything when it came to that
guitar. Towards the end of the night he played a short break in which
the guitar sounded like a violin. I watched to see what he was doing to
hold the notes like that but he didn't seem to be doing anything special
with the hands on the guitar. That's got me intrigued.
I think possibly we caught Deep Purple on a bad night. They were by accounts quite different on the bonus Sunday Night session.
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