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Ireland & UK 2002 reviews  

The end of Harrogate as we know it?

Back when album sleeves resembled the covers of Harry Potter books, and Steps were merely something you fell down, Deep Purple reigned supreme. The fact that it has taken these 70s superstars countless reformations, rehabilitations, and 30 years of follicle shedding to reach us surely proves that Harrogate is officially the world’s least rock and roll town, or so you might have believed.

During a sold out, two hour performance that got better and better, a mild form of chaos erupted in the International Centre. Fans stormed the front rows, and those who were penned back in their seats were up on their feet deftly riffing on their recently renovated air guitars.

Though I was never really in doubt, a neo-operatic performance of Child In Time proved that the Purps are still virtuoso musicians from a bygone age, and that Ian Gillan’s high-pitched shriek has lost none of it’s alarming power. But the real revelation of the night was guitarist Steve Morse, the avuncular replacement for the famously moody Richie Blackmore.

Relishing the unenviable task of making Smoke On The Water sound fresh, Morse teased and tickled the purple hordes with snatches of Voodoo Chile, Won’t Get Fooled Again, and Back In Black, before finally shooting a wicked grin at us and engaging in wild congress with the world’s most famous riff.

At the close, as Ian Paice performed his epic drum solo, a hushed silence fell over the hall, the kind of hush that people usually reserve for royalty. When the rest of Purple rejoined him and the frenetic Speed King exploded around us, we knew we’d finally reached rock nirvana and only one question remained unanswered, would Harrogate ever be quite the same again?

James Littlewood, Harrogate Advertiser

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