[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

Job well done, Mr. Airey

Great show last night at Verizon Music Center (aw, what the heck - Deer Creek) north of Indianapolis. Perfect weather with a nice cool breeze fanning the flames of some hot rock and roll.

Dio opened up with a fairly dreary set, including both a drum solo and self-agrandizing guitar solo during the light of day. Though looking in good form, with a band half his age, Ronnie James neglected to play many of his former hits that would have really stood the crowd on it's feet.

After a very quick set change (after all, there are two changes to deal with tonight- good work road crew), My favorite band of all time Deep Purple took the stage. Being new to the Highway Star, I had not read about Don Airey joining the band and was agast to find out, via a radio interview while travelling to the venue, that my beloved Jon Lord, king of the Hammond B3 would not be appearing. Was sad about the loss of Jon, but knowing Don's history with the Deep Purple family, was always willing to give the new guy a try. After all, remember the bad feelings when Tommy Bolin first toured and everyone yelled for Ritchie during the Come Taste the Band tour in 1975. It seems that Purple has always come out ahead when new blood comes to town, recall Roger and big Ian; Glenn, David, and Tommy; and most recently the awesome addition of Steve Morse on guitar.

Don was given the 'trial by fire' having to lead off with the keyboard heavy Fireball. He did well, despite the soundman's constantly burying his leads under the guitar. Don also excelled during an extended intro into Lazy and the heavy B3 parts of Knocking At Your Back Door. His Lord-ish sense of humour showed through in his constant interpolating other bits of tunes and classic melodies throughout his solos. He has a definite mastery of the instruments and pays good tribute to the original melody of the the songs whilst adding his own influences. Job well done, Mr. Airey!

Steve Morse was awesome as usual, with his three-channel out-of phase wailings and constant musical and physical interplay with all other members of the band- this guy knows how to use a stage. Steve was even better than last time out. Things just seem to gel with time.

What else can you say about the fantastically tight rhythm section of Ian Paice and Roger Glover. Roger stood his ground stage right, just under Paicy's hi-hat, grooving and putting down that solid bass line. Paice was in excellent form, adding those little embellishments that endear him to us. Kind of a 'swing' drummer to my mind. And curiously enough, with bangs and small glasses, looking a bit like Elton John tonight?

Ian Gillan was superb, his own favorite word of the night. Looking fit and sweating profusely, he admirably hit all the high notes, rarely dropped a line ("We'd like to play a few songs you know, some of which we know" - ???) Barefooted and wearing all white, he was easy to follow around the stage. One of the best performances I have ever seen Gillan do in probably eight shows over the years. Just very fine form, amused and just having a good time on stage. Didn't see any little green bottles in sight, either.

Great set list, some old favorites such as Fireball and Speed King. Encore was Hush (from about 100 years ago...)

Scorpions, admirable, but the rains came and we had already seen the show, so left about halfway through their set.

Michael Colter

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