[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

Paging Mr. Gillan

Ian Gillan was extremely gracious to the crowd, and the crowd reciprocated with its appreciation in several standing ovations at the Tuesday, June 25, show at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. Dressed in tropical weight white pants and shirt that made him look like an accomplished martial arts instructor, Gillan took the crowd through a set list packed with more gold than Fort Knox, including everything from the classic Hush to the newly minted Well-Dressed Guitar, which Gillan said will be included in an album that will be recorded soon.

The local radio station played Woman From Tokyo and Hush as we drove to the concert, which heightened our anticipation. The band came on about 10 minutes earlier than expected, which was a welcome contrast from many acts that come on later than expected. Steve Morse cut loose with blistering guitar licks on Woman From Tokyo, the second selection in a 12-song set list. I was impressed with how comfortable Morse is with Deep Purple's material. One sign of how comfortable he was is that he smiled often at the crowd as he played throughout the show.

I believe the primary highlights of the show were Perfect Strangers and Hush. The band squeezed the funky instrumental groove from Hush for all it was worth, and it sounded as good as or better than the studio version. On Perfect Strangers, a green light flashed with strobe-like effect during the powerful instrumental sections of the song. In an uncanny way it reminded me of the green laser that flickered around Jimmy Page during a Led Zeppelin concert I saw at the Capital Center in Largo, Maryland in 1977. Through the flashing green lights it was possible to see Gillan jumping straight up and down as the band played the part of Perfect Strangers that sounds like the musicians are drilling through bedrock with heavy machinery, rather than playing electric instruments.

The secondary highlights of the show were Black Night, Speed King, and Smoke On The Water. A beautiful image was created during the latter when Ian Paice, who was pounding on his Pearl drum kit, was completely shrouded in smoke blown skyward from the back of the stage.

The band deserved every accolade it got from the audience. About halfway through the show, after Black Night, Gillan said, "Superb, you're fantastic," to the crowd, displaying his pleasure not only with the band's performance but the audience's reaction.

Anytime Deep Purple comes knocking at the back door in my town again, I will go see the show.

Here's the set list (in order of which the songs were played):

1. Fireball
2. Woman from Tokyo
3. Ted The Mechanic
4. Lazy
5. Well-Dressed Guitar
6. Knocking At Your Back Door
7. Black Night
8. Perfect Strangers
9. Speed King
10. Smoke On The Water

1. Hush
2. Highway Star

Bill Welsh

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