[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

Slide it in

I had been waiting for this show for a long time. The last time I had seen Deep Purple in concert was back around '75 at Radio City Music Hall in NY and that was with Coverdale, Hughes and Bolin. That was a great show, but very strange without the personnal I'd grown accustomed to.

This was my first opportunity to see Gillan and Glover in the band and I am totally entralled with Steve Morse. A true virtuoso on the guitar. I won't even mention the RB-word. Anyway, onto the show.

Dio opened the show. I was a big Rainbow fan (the early edition), so I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Ronnie. He was great on the Deep Purple Concerto DVD singing Love Is All and such. On this night, as other reviewers have noted, he was enthusiastic and energetic and seemed happy to be there. His voice is still in amazing form.

The set list covered all aspects of his career, from Rainbow to Sabbath to Dio, and while I wasn't familiar with some of the Dio stuff, it all sounded good. Rainbow's Long Live Rock'n'Roll was a highlight, but my fav Rainbow tune, Man On The Silver Mountain, was played probably two or three times faster than it should of have been. What's the hurry? Tha'ts a great riff, Ronnie, let it breathe!

The drum solo and the guitar solo were weak and certainly unnecessary. The 10-minute guitar workout given by Dio's lead axeman was rife with clichés and bombastic fretwork. At one point he literally just threw the guitar on stage and then just smushed it around the floor creating some very strange and unpleasant noises. Oh well... they redeemed themselves with a blistering version of Rainbow In The Dark to close their set.

Next came what I was waiting for... but I can't express the frustation I felt that Deep Purple was not the headliner. It almost seems perverse. The wait wasn't long however. Don Airey's whooshing organ opening filled the arena and the band ripped into a incinerating version of Fireball. The set list was pretty much the one you've been seeing posted here by other reviewers:

Woman From Toyko
Ted The Mechanic
The Well-Dressed Guitar
Knocking At Your Back Door
Space Truckin'
Perfect Strangers
Speed King
Smoke on the Water

Highway Star

While I consider Jon Lord to be one of the greatest rock keyboardist in the world, Don Airey is a marvelous replacement. Having been with Rainbow, he understands the vibe. Morse was amazing too. His fret work aside, he just looks like he is having a blast on stage. Grinning ear to ear, coaxing notes from his axe, he weaves and bops around stage, slapping five with the fans and giving out guitar picks like candy on Halloween. Can you imagine his predecessor doing that? [Thought you weren't going there? ;^) Rasmus]

I've nothing bad to say about anyone here... Paicey was his usual Hall of Fame self... what a great drummer... one of the most underrated in the history of rock. Roger was his perpetually jovial self, keeping things sane and sturdy on stage. His bass playing is the foundation for so many DP tunes. He continues to amaze.

Sunday night's version of Space Truckin' - a song that I can normally take or leave - suddenly took on a whole life. It was powerful and in your face. The opening notes - Da-da! Da! Da! Da! Daah Daah... Da! Da! - brought the crowd to its feet with a huge roar. And they sung along with practically every word. What a rush! I was hoping for Black Night, but, hell, this was amazing!

Of course the crowd loved the stuff they did from the Perfect Strangers album and it was nice to see/hear Knocking At Your Back Door back in the set list. In Ian's coy intro to this he said, "The subject of this song is somewhat taboo and even illegal in some states. So, if you'll all just turn around and look the other way, we'll just slide into it gently." Gillan has a wonderful wit.

Hearing Smoke On The Water (the show closer) for the four billionth time was just as pleasurable as the first time. Morse did one of his brief classic rock riff intros, focusing mostly on Who riffs including Baba O'Riley, before blasting into the familiar riff. By now, the crowd was nearly apoplectic. And if you think the band gets tired of playing SOTW, guess again. They were having a rollicking good time up there, laughing and leaping about.

So, when Purple was done, it was time for The Scorpions to take the stage. How anti-climatic can you get? Look, the Scorpions are alright. They rock hard... but they don't have nearly the musicianship that Deep Purple has and their show with so many heavy metal cliches that I was actually giggling at one point.

Scorpion cliches include: double bass on the drum kit with requisite giant gong behind the drummer (he hit it once!); the flying wedge guitars; the maudlin power ballads replete with the crowd's sweeping arm waves and lit-up Bic lighters; the interminable drum solo ending with the drummer standing on top of the kit pumping his fist in the air; the interminable guitar solo packed with more attitude than virtuousity.

Sadly, this L.A. crowd was there to see the Scorpions. I can't say I'm surprised. In the '80s, L.A. practically gave birth to the hair metal genre. (Yes, I know Scorps are from Germany, but the point is, Angelenos love this sort of stuff dating back to Quiet Riot, Dokken, Ratt, et al. and I'm starting to get queasy thinking about it all...) So, the trailer park contingent was out in full force, featuring plenty of women with unfortunate make-up choices, who had no business wearing clothes as tight as they were!

There was some measure of retribution for Deep Purple fans, however. During the break, before the Scorpions came on, about 200 guys were trying to crowd into a men's room designed to hold about 100 people. But having just seen DP, the crowd was mollified, content to wait their turn in the 90-plus degree, smelly public toilet. Then, some happy camper on the far side of the rest room began belting out (off key, mind you) the lyrics to Highway Star. Before you know it, the entire bathroom contingent had joined in, singing it all, word for work. In a large tiled room like that, the results were impressive. First time I've actually enjoyed taking a leak at a rock show.

Looking forward to the next Deep Purple album and pray they won't stay strangers to us die hards in the States. Let's put them at the top of the bill next time around!

Bob Dumas

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