Russia, Ukraine & Baltic reviews
Not Deep Purple but still damned good
It was Purple's second concert at Olympiysky, and the second time all the tickets were sold out. But it wasn't a festival - it was just a one-band concert. The show started half an hour later and the set list differed a little from the one in St. Petersburg. The first, overall and main impression of this gig was that all the musicians were full of energy and enthusiasm, and happy to give their energy to the audience and really enjoy themselves on stage.
The set list:
Woman From Tokyo (7')
Total time about 2 hours 7 minutes. The times are indicated approximately within a minute.
It is churlish to describe music and songs in words, but I will try to write a few ones about how they were performed this night in Moscow. The show started at 19:30 Moscow time.
WOMAN FROM TOKYO was played very close to the usual live version. Don played the keyboards traditionally but at the end he went somewhere away from the line on Hammond.
TED THE MECHANIC was the second item in the set. Steve played some solo and Don Airey played his first one to show the Moscow audience who he is. The third one was the in Moscow long awaited MARY LONG. Ian introduced it as "Dedicated to two people, they are in heaven now". Steve played a highly virtuoso guitar solo, but I am not sure that it fits the song in the best way. The ending of it was too technical to my taste.
The famous LAZY was the next. It started with a two-minute keyboard solo, then the drums entered, bass and guitar after them. This instrumental continued about two minutes more and only, and then Mr. Gillan joined in. His voice went higher and stronger than in previous songs this night. He was Great! It was pleasant to hear him playing the mouth organ, which sounded delightful too.
Deep Purple's signature tune, an anthem, the perpetual song - I don't know how to introduce the next number: CHILD IN TIME. Don interpreted the intro lightly but it was good enough. The unpleasant (to my taste;-) thing happened when Morse started play in unison with Gillan on the highest notes. I don't understand such a trick. It looks like Steve is going to help the singer who doesn't need it (especially now, when he isnt croaking!). In 2000 it was the same. From my point of view each musician in the band should play his own part and supplement each other this way. When Ian started his aria for the second time Steve left him alone at the very beginning and we could hear Gillan in his best mode, but then Steve came into the duet and played so loud that the voice became impossible to hear. Did he intend to demonstrate that Ian cant get the note he can get on the guitar? Don and Steve played their regular solos. To my taste the keyboard solo was too complicated as well as the guitar solo - they were much more rhythmic than melodic. When listening to Steve' solo it's impossible to recognize not only the song he is playing, but also the band. Probably this is just my specific opinion and my own problem. In any way the audience was happy to listen to this nine-minute song in Moscow.
As opposed to the previous ancient song the next one was young enough and rarely performed so I didnt recognize it in time. It started with some Celtic rhythm and similar sounds. Ian sat on the stage and began to sing... The song sounded unusual. It was an ethnic island in the sea of Deep Purple hard rock. At one point Steve sang with Ian... I have no more words about this five-minute song and have to listen to it once more to decide whether I like it or not. I thought it was Up The Wall, because I couldnt imagine one day not being able to recognize a Deep Purple sing, but it happened! It was obviously THE AVIATOR and Ian introduced it in a pause between two songs. After this song Ian publicly blew his nose...
A five-minute NO ONE CAME followed, featuring Steve Morse's solo and a very good (!) keyboard solo. One of the things that gave zest to this gig was THE WELL DRESSED GUITAR. It is an excellent three-minute composition. I like it. It sounds like Deep Purple in spirit... but it isn't a Deep Purple composition. It could be good enough for some studio album, but it's impossible to imagine a live instrumental by Deep Purple without a keyboard solo and without the duel between the guitar and the Hammond. Sorry, but that's my opinion.
FOOLS lasted about nine minutes. It was nice to go back to the 70s and at the same time to listen to Don Airey enforcing his keyboards to sound and even sing like a chorale. It was nice. Steve demonstrated again his fast guitar techniques in his solo. Then we had a chance to test how Don Airey can manage the keyboards on his own and express his feelings in music. It was the IMPROVISATION in real Purple spirit, including a traditional for Moscow gigs - Moscow Nights (Podmoskovnye Vetchera) and another popular Russian melody - Kalinka (does anybody remember Irina Rodnina?). The keyboards sounded like pianino, Hammond, real church organ, synthesizer - very wide selection. The set was very good to show keyboards capability and mastership of the musician. I would be happy to listen to it once more. The only thing I would like to wish Don is to make quotes a little shorter and include several popular tunes more to make this improvisation a lot better. This composition transformed at the very end into the first chords of Perfect Strangers.
PERFECT STRANGERS itself was about six minutes long and sounded very close to the usual live execution. WHEN A BLIND MAN CRIES had very good and interesting one-minute intro played by Steve and Don. It is a Deep Purple song very close to the blues... Well, before this night it was. Don has played his parts more complicated, breaking the original rhythm and Steve in his solo went so far from the blues that it was difficult to understand why.
I entitled the next item as INSTRUMENTAL (about 6 minutes), but suppose that it was the same that was named as Riffarama in British concerts. It was about six minutes long and started with Here Comes The Sun. It wasn't a pure guitar solo, but all the composition was built around the guitar. Steve was searching the riff or some solo and just after he did it, all the band (including Ian) played the melody. It was fantastic! The last riff was from Smoke On The Water, but I don't think all this playing was just an introduction to it.
SMOKE ON THE WATER doesn't need any comments. People sang with the band. I have never listened to such harmonious singing from a Moscow audience before! It was great!!! Like everybody else I fell into the happy and crazy mode and so can't exactly remember now who and what happened onstage. The only minus I would like to highlight is that the keyboards were so quiet that the band sounded like ordinary guitar-oriented group (e.g. listen to Black Sabbath's version of this song).
The breaking point of this night making all the people in the hall go crazy was SPEED KING. It was the song, which closed the official part of the show, and it looked like the band tried to show all they have in stock and give all the rest of their energy to the people. Of course it was the usual Deep Purple tricks but it works again and again. The only minus for me was that the great intro including keyboard play of colors and sounds was omitted. The 16-minute song included this time a guitar-keyboards duel (about three minutes), a great bass-guitar solo that lasted longer than I have ever heard before - 3½ minutes, and a drum solo which included a one-hand trick. Gillan included the medley of old hits and organized a duel-competition with Steve. It was fantastic! Each time Deep Purple present this great song in a different way in Moscow and each time it is great. As usual after this song Ian said his good-bye and Paice threw his sticks into the crowd.
The public noised loudly for three minutes until the band reappeared for the encores. Introducing the song Ian said that they wrote it exactly 100 years ago. (Did they? Until now I always thought they just sang it, but didn't compose it.) It was HUSH, a well dressed Hush! It was nice to hear it again. The band rolled the rock more and more intensively into the BLACK NIGHT, featuring a very delicate one-minute intro and a very good solo on keyboards (thanks, Don). Steve played his call and response solo to the audience - it was perfect. I was glad to see that little by little the Moscow audiences get better and better.
The final seven-minute song was the highly energetic HIGHWAY STAR. Maybe I'm wrong but it seemed to me that at the very beginning the Hammond sounded in another key than usual, may be a little lower, but the song was very close to the usual concert version. Again, the keyboards, which usually hold all other instruments together and attract public attention at the right moment only, were too quiet (this comment could be applied to the most of the songs played by the group this night).
It really was a great show. It really is a great group. But it isn't the Deep Purple I love. Maybe I'm too old for such music - I don't know. I see that Steve Morse and Don Airey make the sound modern. It attracts more young fans. I know people who like this sound more than the previous one and even like Morse more than the band, noting that while making studio records he has to constrain his manner and mastership (i.e. approving that his style doesn't fit the group) and only in the concerts can he spread his wings and be the main star on stage. Of course it's up to the taste of the individual, and I don't want to pretend to be correct. Everybody like specific music and each music has its own fans. And it is really good! For this same reason I prefer Deep Purple to the modern rock groups and now I feel that the group goes further and further away from the original style.
The brand of Deep Purple was always a delicate combination of Hammond and guitar, playing leading roles in the music. This was the very first time the keyboards came in from the background and it differentiated Deep Purple from all other rock groups (Uriah Heep initially went this way too). You could remember the never-ending competitions between Lord and Blackmore over who plays more solos at the concerts.
I also can't get out of my head that both Ritchie and Jon were not only just the guitar and keyboards players but composers too. They (with others of course) wrote most of the songs I like - they felt them and could spontaneously make any improvisation keeping the spirit and the main idea of the song. Now it seems to be lost and it's a pity. Forgive me for such a criminal idea, but for me this band is just the shadow of Deep Purple and probably it should change the name as e.g. Whitesnake did.
Best wishes to all the fans, to the band and to Jon Lord personally.
Unauthorized copying, while sometimes necessary, is never as good as
the real thing (with apologies to Ani)|
(c) 2005, The Highway Star