[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]
Immersed in Purple
For those who have never heard of Devore (and that has to be almost everyone), it is tucked into the foothills 50 miles east of Los Angeles. It was the site of the fabled US Festivals in the early '80s, a fact that blew Don Airey away later in the evening as he recalled being a member of Ozzy's band during US Fest 2 in 1983.
This night the open air ampitheatre was loaded to the gills with Deep Purple fans, and they did not let the band down. Deep Purple has a longstanding history of playing nearby San Bernardino's Swing Auditorium, where I saw them in 1972 and 1973. Although that venue burned to the ground years ago (no flare gun this time... just a wayward airplane!), local fans still remember DP fondly (not to mention the site of Deep Purple's triumphant set at 1974's California Jam was at the nearby Ontario Speedway, also gone now).
Having seen the tour's opening show in Las Vegas, I was shocked at how well both Dio and Deep Purple had tightened their sets. Dio was much more energized, helped by the fact that guitarist Doug Aldrich seemed much more comfortable and animated. RJD was his gracious self and was in excellent voice. Seemingly everyone around us sang the words to his Rainbow covers and erupted for the encore of Rainbow In The Dark.
When Deep Purple hit the stage with a nasty, supersonic version of Fireball, my pals and I (many of whom also saw DP with me way back in '72) exchanged those oh-boy-they're-on-tonight! glances as Woman From Tokyo also charged up the crowd. By the time Space Truckin' came around, the crowd was totally immersed in Purple. Big Ian was beaming and prancing, truly energized by the deafening response. Roger said later that this was one of the larger crowds they had seen on the tour (25-30,000, I guestimate) and the band had a blast.
Hush and Highway Star were both crackling versions, with Don Airey's work on Hush easily his best on the night. Roger and Little Ian were tight and pushed Steve and Don's solos to heights not seen in the Las Vegas show. The new setlist was more fan friendly and very feisty. Bravo!
Thanks to Roger's well-documented generosity, my group was able to visit after the show with he, Don and Steve as well as Ronnie James Dio. All were perfect hosts and every fan was delighted. Such nice people... such pros.
We left looking forward to Roger's solo release in September as well as the hoped-for Fall sessions for the new DP 2003 CD.
Thanks guys... we had one hot summer night!
We left before seeing the Scorpions... why stay?
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