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Ireland & UK 2002 reviews  

Perfect night

Opening night of the 2002 British tour and Deep Purple were in Rock City UK, Grimsby! (well yeah!)

I wasn't intending to go to the show. Not having heard of anything from Deep Purple since, ooh, "Come Taste the Band," I thought they would be well past their sell by date. Also not having much dough to splash about, £50 for two tickets was out of my range unfortunately. Anyway, as luck would have it, the band were being interviewed the night before on local BBC television and they provided two tickets for a competition. The question? Which album were the band making and was later remembered in the song, "Smoke On The water?"

Hurriedly running to my computer to email the answer, I entered Machine Head and promptly forgot about it until next day at work my mobile rang out. It was a representative of the BBC show telling me I had won the competition and could I go to the concert and meet the band afterwards? Could I go??? You bet your sweet ass I could! A frantic phone session to arrange a babysitter and we were sorted!

Now Grimsby Auditorium is not so much a concert hall as a glorified aircraft hangar which holds approximately 2000. The acoustics are not at all suited to a rock gig but the town's old rock dudes were out in force anyway. I missed the support act, The Planets who are all classically trained and who were by all accounts, very good. I sat down with my beer outside the hall and at approximately 0830 hrs we heard the strains of what sounded like Purple playing Woman From Tokyo.

Was it the band? No big introduction? People drifted into the hall, and sure enough, they were on! Not an auspicious start then. We took our superb seat up in the gods and settled down for an evening of hard rocking or major disappointment. I didn't know which but I need not have worried. The boys were instantly into the groove.

I must admit to being a little shocked by the sight of Ian Gillan with a slight paunch and short greying hair, Jon Lord with almost white hair, Roger Glover with a bandana and grey beard, Ian hiding behind his kit beavering away and still wearing those trademark blue lens glasses and the 'new guy' Steve Morse. The band looked happy, smiling and really enjoying themselves which almost instantly rubbed off infectiously onto the crowd. It was instantly evident to me that the band still rock quite magnificently, even if a little more slowly these days, but hey we are all getting older!

I can't remember the exact set list, but it consisted mainly of old favourites and one or two newer songs including one that has not been recorded yet. Unfortunately, that song was probably the weakest in the set. It had some great virtuoso performances from Jon and Steve but it didn't really seem to gel well into a song. The crowd politely applauded this and another newer song, The Aviator, but generally they wanted to hear the old favourites and by golly did they get them.

Child In Time sounded quite fabulous, Ted The Mechanic was funked up to the max and Smoke On The Water even managed to sound fresh! Steve Morse created a wonderful intro to the old classic by playing 30 seconds long intro riffs to about 9-10 classic rock songs, each time concluding with a negative shake of the head before crunching into those never to be forgotten chords. It was if to say, yeah those songs are good but THIS is the best riff EVER!!! It made me smile and it made my night.

The band were quite simply AWESOME and I apologise for thinking that it could ever have been any different. Meeting the band after the gig was a great privilege and I'm glad to say that they were so un-rockstar like it was unbelievable. Very friendly and talkative, it was so very refreshing to experience. To paraphrase Ian's reference to Ted The Mechanic at the end of that great song, "Top Blokes!"

Thank you so very much Deep Purple and also to their tour manager for organising our perfect night so well.

Alan Bristow

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