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Ireland & UK 2002 reviews  

Not faking it

I've just returned from the opening night of the UK tour ... the long-anticipated Grimsby gig. Rarely can Purple have played a more salubrious auditorium than the great Grimsby Budokan ... and basketball court. Fair enough, you don't start a tour in an out-of-the-way-piss-hole like Grimsby (I live there, so I know of whence I speak) unless you're looking upon the gig as a warm-up. A rehearsal. So I just paid £25 to watch Purple rehearse. Do I mind? Pah. It was a scandal. I had to spend *another* £25 on merchandise just to stop myself feeling as though I'd ripped the band off!

The set-list was:
Woman From Tokyo
Ted The Mechanic
Mary Long
Child In Time
Well Dressed Guitar (WD40)
No One Came
The Aviator
Perfect St. Rangers
Up The Wall
When A Blind Man Cries
Smoke On The Water
Speed King

Highway Star

.... but merely listing the tracks doesn't really do the night justice.

I've never seen Child In Time sung live before and judging from the reaction, neither had most of the crowd. Could Gillan still hit those high notes? Well, no. But, with a little subtle simultaneous multi-tracking he came damn close. Close enough for a man in his late 50s. And the sweat pouring off him by the end of the song's traditional twelve minutes, was testament to the fact that he wasn't faking. He was giving his all, and what more do we have any right to ask?

And, if Child is Gillan's solo, then what of the others? Well Steve had Well Dressed Guitar ("We call it WD40") and a playful medley of great (non-Purple) guitar riffs, before breaking into the inevitable Smoke On The Water.

Then came Speed King. Getting on for ninety minutes into their set, they launched into a twenty-odd minute version, including all their solos. Now, that's what I call stamina! Wonderful.

Inevitably, the encores were a let-down after that, and, now I think about it, I would love to have heard Black Night. But, hey, I wouldn't have traded No One Came or Fools for it. In a way, it is a credit to the band that they are confident enough to burn through Smoke relatively early in the set, rather than leaving it to the inevitable second encore.

Overall, they were happy and confident and having a good time. I think Gillan was genuinely pleased by the reaction some of the less-known tracks received, and by the huge roars of approval for his exertions in Child. By the time they get to the bigger venues, they will be firing full-on on all cylinders. If you haven't bought your ticket yet... Why are you still reading this? Go... Now!

John Ashbrook

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