[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

Strat yer stuff!

Considering the amount of touring these guys have been doing lately, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t seen them since 1998 (they skipped Southern California, where I’m from, on the Skynyrd tour). So a trip to the Midwest to visit family was the perfect excuse to check out this latest package tour. A short-hop flight from Minneapolis to Madison, WI and I was in Badger country. My friend Jeff, a fellow DP enthusiast and Hammond abuser, picked me up and 48 hours of competitive beer drinking began...

First off, let me say that Milwaukee is one of the great places to see live rock’nroll. The people here are serious about heavy music and let you know it. And I really liked this venue.

We showed up as early as possible knowing that Dio would start at exactly 6:30 - and they did. RJD has a history of never letting me down and this afternoon was no exception. I kept flashing back to the last time I had seen him performing outdoors in daylight (with Elf in 1974) and time just stood still for a while. His new guitar player was superb... he started off playing a Strat (please, more Strats in heavy metal!) and later switched between that and some awesome sounding Les Pauls. Personal highlight for me was Children Of The Sea.

On this particular evening, Scorpions came next and kept the energy level up doing what they do. They were much better than a 1999 show I saw of them. Very entertaining...

The competitive beer drinking I mentioned earlier was now reaching a frenzied pitch (much to the horror of Jeff’s new girlfriend). They have a great feature at this venue: You can buy four beers and they give you a special carrier with a handle to bring them back to your seats... very accommodating and we were more than delighted!

So now it was time for me to experience Deep Purple without Jon Lord. This time around it’s Ian Paice stage right behind Roger Glover. I was pleased to see Don Airey behind what appeared to be an old, black Hammond C-3. (I had heard that Airey was touring with one of Jon’s organs... could this have been it? Rasmus?) [Not sure. Don did use Jon's set-up in Europe last August. Rasmus] And yes, Gillan was dressed the white half gypsy-half island castaway getup with his pants rolled up as if he was about to wade into a creek. Steve Morse looked like Steve Morse... Roger Glover looked like Roger Glover...

Sound was great and the energy level was maintained. I was surprised to see such a grueling tour itinerary (they had played the two previous nights)... I thought they weren’t going to do that anymore... maybe that’s the only way to make a good profit in the States? They was some whining afterward about Gillan’s voice but I thought he did very well (No, he doesn’t sound like Machine Head... yes, he sounds better than 90% of other singers).

It was great to hear them do Knocking At Your Back Door again and Ted The Mechanic always comes off great live... of course Perfect Strangers as well. I was personally glad when Steve Morse didn’t do the 'famous riff medley' going into Smoke, for some reason I am not amused by this but it doesn’t kill me.

Don Airey: Overall I am pleased. He was low in the mix but the old C-3 sounded nice and dirty the way it should be. He did less of the spacey keyboard sounds (has anyone heard his version of Stormbringer by The Cage?).

It’s 2002 and Deep Purple exists without Jon Lord or Ritchie Blackmore (I may become unpopular here) and this is very strange. But this is what I personally think: I fully understand the need to move forward and not follow anyone’s footsteps or do a nostalgia thing but... Wouldn’t it be better if, since the majority of DP’s current set is Blackmore/Lord era material, that the sound and spirit of that material be more closely... uh... 'preserved'?

I love Steve Morse, he is an amazing guitar player and I believe that he could play anything. I also love the stuff he has done on Purpendicular and Abandon. But would it be so demoralizing if he played songs like Highway Star, Smoke On The Water or even Knocking At Your Back Door on a Stratocaster with more of a straight Marshall sound and was more faithful to the original versions? Otherwise, why not just actually do more new material. With the exception of Well Dressed Guitar and Ted, it was all the old stuff (I could be wrong on that, don’t forget we had beer) and I would have liked to hear Steve play some fresh music.

With that off my chest, I would have to admit that I enjoyed myself thoroughly and I know a lot of people at this show rediscovered Deep Purple... Overheard in the men’s room two guys arguing for five minutes about whether Ritchie Blackmore was in Deep Purple or not. "Nine years, guys!"


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