[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]
Shades of Hush...
Before I left home for the concert, I went to the nearest dollar store to buy sunglasses. While checking out the shades, the local radio station played Hush. I didn't expect to hear Hush because I live an hour and a half from Holmdel in Southern New Jersey (near Philly). I thought, standing there in my Highway Star t-shirt [There's a good lad. :-) Rasmus], that it was an omen suggesting Purple would be great. The omen wasn't wrong.
I left shortly after, it was a nice ride with hardly any traffic from people returning home from the Jersey Shore, and I arrived in Holmdel at 5:30. I noticed there was a huge crowd, atleast 8-10,000 (easily matching last year's crowd which came to see DP, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ted Nugent).
Dio was first, and yes, he went on at exactly 6:30. Dio is a great band, and the opener Killing The Dragon is a killer. Things did not slow down after that and Ronnie's band played MOTSM, LLR&R, Heaven And Hell and closed with The Last In Line. What an opening! Dio was stunning and I'll definitely see him again.
Next were the Scorpions. I admit, I don't know much about their music. I was already exhausted because I was headbanging and dancing throughout Dio's set, so I decided to just relax during the Scorpions. The Scorps were loud and they played well, but they weren't my cup of tea. Their lead singer was good, the drummer was excellent, but their guitarist was lackluster when comparing him to Dio's. The Scorp guitarist played a solo that reminded me of Ritchie Blackmore's guitar solo during the Absence of Pink Concert in Knebworth 1985. It was distorted but it sounded alright. However, the Scorpions have a musical style that is vastly different from Dio and Deep Purple, and I just couldn't get into their music, but I tried hard.
I was having great fun, but just before Purple started their set, a Scorpions fan behind me said "Dio was great, and the Scorpions were awesome, but I think Purple will be the worst act of the three. They used to have some good stuff but I don't think they will be good tonite." I must say, to quote Jon Lord, if I could have been angry and sad at the same time," then I was. There were alot of fans who left to buy beer or go to the restroom, but I was wondering if they had left. However, all the fans returned and the house was packed yet again. I thought to myself, "We'll see if the Scorps fan behind me thinks Deep Puple is the worst act of the night after hearing Highway Star."
Then Purple entered with a blistering version of Fireball. Ian Gillan's vocals were crisp and he was screaming louder this year. I am happy to report his voice was in great shape. Don Airey's playing was awesome and I thought, "Did Jon sell his equipment to Don?" Don sounded 99.5% like Jon. I was on my feet the entire song.
Next was Woman from Tokyo, and I noticed the band was much louder than last year. After WFT, I know it's juvenile, but I turned to my friend next to me and said, "Yeah, I guess Purple sucks - not!" I did it to annoy the Scorpions fan behind me (sorry everyone but it had to be done). Speed King, Black Night, Ted, Smoke On The Water, Hush - they were all great. Deep Purple did the Jim Carey move last night - Smokin'!
The absolute highlights of the night were the excellent Perfect Strangers, which included an outstanding light show, and the deafening Highway Star.
I admit there were some bugs to be worked out... Don does have his own style and it will take the band some time to work it completely out, plus I could have done without Roger's extended bass solo. I was also disappointed by Ian Paice's drum solo (sorry Ian, but I've heard better from you). However, Don's solo, which included the Star Wars theme, was pretty good.
All in all, Deep Purple was far better this year than they were last year with Skynyrd. IG sounded better this year and so did Morse. When the concert ended, I turned to confront that Scorpions fan so I could see the expression on his face... but he was gone. I wonder if it was because he was embarrassed? If he wasn't, he should have been, because Purple rocked Holmdel.
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