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Ireland & UK 2002 reviews  

Purple Rule the Empire

Pop Idols take note. If you are still able to hack it after 30 odd years in the business, you deserve to wear that logo. Last night Deep Purple even boasted the curious novelty of playing their own instruments. These they used to amazing effect during the opener Woman From Tokyo which harps back to the early 70s when they were the world's best selling rock group, and the loudest.

During the punk era 25 years ago this year at the Liverpool Empire I witnessed Deep Purple self-destruct amidst the dry ice and smokey haze of questionable substance. That same night keyboard player Jon Lord called time on a brand which, live at least, had become a mere shadow of its former self. Most people see this is the classic Deep Purple line-up minus the legendary yet moody Ritchie Blackmore, which is unfair on current guitarist Steve Morse who has since stamped his identity on a band who can now survive together in creative harmony.

This time around their demeanour is cheerful and carefree while the songs are delivered with pure power panache and professionalism. After WFT is Ian Gillan's whimsical rock'n'roll account of one Ted The Mechanic whom he met in a bar. Humour has now been allowed to filter into the mix.

Fools from the Fireball album is a dramatic rock epic which makes you jump out of your skin as Jon Lord's classical reflections give way to a wicked metal riff . No One Came is a timeless pastiche on the state of the record industry in 1971, the lyrics for which should be indelibly stamped on the recording contract of any budding Popstar.Ian Gillan admits that dress sense was not the reason they began playing rock music in the late 60s.

Purple's engine room of Roger Glover on bass and Ian Paice on drums is often overshadowed by the virtuosity of the lead players. Their gear changes are as slick as those on a Ferrari Testarossa, allowing free reign to messrs Gillan, Lord and Morse. It was clear that Ian Gillan was suffering from some kind of virus but not once did he complain or make excuses to a generous audience who helped him along. The epic Child In Time was out of the question tonight.

We enter the mid 1980s with the pure pomp and circumstance of Perfect Strangers from the so named comeback album. Yet this was no unplugged or muted 'audience with the Great Ones' affair. Disturbingly Ian Gillan dared to introduce new material. Up The Wall is a preview for the new album which had apparently been written before the UK tour.

And so to the seminal rock classic Smoke On The Water. This was preluded by Steve Morse’s entertaining journey through the rock hall of fame, playing classic riffs by Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and of course The Beatles, with bassist and drummer guessing what he was going to play next. Great slapstick beautifully executed. The folically challenged gleefully rose to their feet with their friends and relations and bobbed around during this and the encore of Black Night, Hush and Highway Star and everyone went home to dust off their copies of Machine Head and reliving their own version of Pop Idol.

Keith Thompson

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