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Deep Purple, Dio, Scorpions put pedal to the metal

Dallas Morning News - Review by Matt Weitz, special contributor to The Dallas Morning News

You've got to hand it to metal - few types of pop music have proved so darned fertile in the last few decades. After all, tart it up, and you've got Def Leppard; bum it out, and basically you've got grunge. Sunday night at Smirnoff Music Centre was a chance to honor some of the most fecund - and essential - of the genre's sires as some 8,500 fans came to hear (Ronnie James) Dio, Scorpions and one of the ur-Camaro bands, Deep Purple.

There are a few obstacles to fully appreciating these metallic Argonauts. Mind-numbing radio rotation is one, and a personnel turnover that rivals that of a French infantry squad in World War I is another. Let's see, was Ian Gillan with Deep Purple before or after Ritchie Blackmore returned? For the second time? For both? Was Matthias Joe the replacement for the formerly returning Scorpion Michael Schenker, or was that Jabs Lynn Turner? [Yeah, go on then, prove to us that music journalists don't waste time on research! Rasmus]

What it all boils down to, however, is the response of the crowd, and Sunday's show was long on devotion, with lots of hoisted (and sloshed) beers, horned hand signs and extremely enthusiastic air-guitar accompaniment.

Dio - who, just to confuse things even more, used to play with former Purple picker Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow before going on to sing for Black Sabbath - opened the show, doing tunes such as The Last In Line.

Scorpions were next, sporting a stage that featured more colored lights than the final half-hour of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a starlit logo backdrop and an aural assault that was as hard to ignore as a panzer division.

The crowd was on their feet from the first notes of the prerecorded orchestral fanfare and stayed there for fast-paced rockers such as Bad Boys Running Wild and best-selling power ballad nuggets like No One Like You and Wind of Change.

Deep Purple - despite its headline status - was actually a comedown. Although the band sprinkled a few established songs of interest (Speed King) throughout its set, there was far too much fooling around - segments of songs by the Beatles, Ray Charles and AC/DC, to name but a few. It seemed like the goal was to make people suffer as much as possible (if we want to hear a band that doesn't have Joe Perry as a guitarist do Walk This Way, we'll go to Deep Ellum, thank you) before paying off with radio faves such as Smoke On the Water and Hush.

The unexpected result was the conclusion that Scorpions should've headlined the show.

Too bad.

Submitted by Panama99@aol.com

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