[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

Explosive Purple

It was a fantastic triple-bill at DTE Energy Center, better known as Pine Knob, in Clarkston, Michigan, on June 13th. That's between Flint and Detroit. It's a spectacular outdoor venue, but there were a fair amount of no-shows, as the show occurred on the same night the Detroit Red Wings were playing for the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League's championship trophy.

Ronnie James Dio was in good voice to start things off, and exuded a ton of energy running back and forth across the stage, exhorting the fans. Dio did the usual mix of his solo work (Rainbow In The Dark, One Night In The City, Holy Diver, etc.), plus various Rainbow (Man On The Silver Mountain, Long Live Rock'n'Roll) and Black Sabbath (Heaven And Hell, Children Of The Sea) tunes. The band was tight and the one-hour performance got stronger as the set progressed.

Deep Purple was next. They performed a solid set, and were particularly strong on Speed King, Black Night and Fireball. They did a better job than in recent years on Smoke On The Water. Gillan sounded more like the Made In Japan era than in the previous half-dozen shows I've seen over the past 17 years. His humor was in good form, as he followed Speed King by telling the crowd the band would now do a much more recent song... then they broke into Smoke.

Don Airey was very good on keyboards, but couldn't muster the thunderous church-organ sound that Jon Lord used to do, particularly on Lazy. Gillan talked about the upcoming album they're working on, and they did a fine-sounding instrumental that will be included on the new CD called, Well-Dressed Guitar.

What bummed me about the show was the almost complete lack of a light show. Having seen the terrific lights of the Perfect Strangers tour in 1984, the amateur-hour light display at Pine Knob was quite a let-down. I'll go so far as to say it was an absolute disgrace, and made Purple look like they're too cheap to pay for any hint of lighting or a stage show.

Steve Morse is brilliant on guitar, but still no match for Ritchie Blackmore. Blackmore's lightning-quick leads make Morse look slow.

The final act were the Scorpions, and they were also outstanding. I knew they were good, but didn't realize how hard their rock is in concert. They really kicked out. Purple needs to take a lesson from them on doing a proper light show. [Had the sun set when DP were onstage? Rasmus]

James Gemmell

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