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Ireland & UK 2002 reviews  

Simply the best

Quite simply the best group of musicians together on the planet today. I challenge anyone to find a better musician in his or her respective position individually, yet alone together.

Is there a better drummer than Paice alive today? Has there ever been a better organ player than Jon Lord? Glover is such a credit to the profession in what he's done as a musician and as a producer and by the way he's carried himself over the years. Morse is a guitar virtuoso of the highest calibre who does not seem to suffer from the same afflictions as his contemporaries. As he seems quite down to earth he does not appear to have an over-inflated ego or feel the need to bore the crowds senseless with overly long guitar solos to prove how wonderful he is. His solos are truly enjoyable as they both show his amazing talent and skill whilst being fun at the same time, and I love his references to classic rock songs.

And as for Gillan, he quite simply is the quintessential rock vocalist of all time. Even when he's ill, he still puts all others to shame, and although he obviously wasn't 100% on this night, I didn't feel that it detracted from the performance. I was in the south balcony and it sounded fantastic up there. Now, not only are these five musicians arguably the best at what they do, but they're together and playing as a tight, well oiled, machine, although machine may be inaccurate because with all the duelling solos and improvisation, it's more like a living, breathing entity.

I saw Purple at the Guildhall in Portsmouth in 1996, and I was blown away by their power. I was at the front and when they did Fireball and Roger Glover's bass kicked in I thought it was the heaviest thing I'd ever heard/felt/experienced (and I'd seen Pantera doing 'F**king Hostile' at Brixton two years previously). But the difference with Purple is their power does not come from aggression or shouting, by hammering their instruments or turning their equipment up until your ears bleed. Their power comes from their superior technique, musicianship, song writing ability (and turning their equipment up until your ears bleed!).

In 1996 Purple were one of the best bands I'd ever seen. When they came out to play I saw the odd grey hair and Gillan had a bit of a belly, but when they played all I saw was the best live band ever. In 2002, there's a few more grey hairs but Gillan looks in great shape (I could see no belly), and when they play I hear a band that is even better than that of 1996. It would be a crime if these men stopped touring and deprived the world of the best live act on the planet.

My only disappointment arose from my personal favourite (Fireball) being absent from the set, but as they have so many classics some were bound to be missing (no Child In Time or Strange Kind Of Woman either). All in all this was an amazing performance and one I could go on about for ages, so I'll shut up now, but just one question, where does Ian Gillan get his trousers from?

James Ballard

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