[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

A portrait of brilliance

It was with great anticipation that I travelled 400 miles into the 110 degree (44 C) Las Vegas heat to see Deep Purple's first concert on their long-awaited U.S. tour. I had not seen DP since The House Of Blue Light tour in 1987 (a lot of water under their bridge since then). I am very happy to say that I and the rest of the glorious crowd in the Aladdin Amphitheater were rewarded with a performance that clearly demonstrated that Deep Purple, one of the greatest rock bands ever, is A-BAND-ON.

DP performed the following songs:
Highway Star
Woman From Tokyo
Vavoom! Ted the Mechanic
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
Well Dressed Guitar (new song!)
Fools (!)
Perfect Strangers
Speed King
- and finally a medley of great rock songs culminating with that greatest of rock anthems (What could it be?)...
Smoke On The Water.

Their performance was tight and together. The band was very energetic. They were interacting with each other on stage in a way that made it clear they were (are) enjoying themselves. Their sound and mix was by far the best of the three bands playing.

Ian Gillan's voice is the best I've heard (either in person or on various videos) since the 1970s. His passionate singing and stylistic improvisation easily made up for the very few imperfections in his intonation. Big Ian treated the audience to a bit of Elvis and other vintage snippets during the end-of-set medley. He is a master lyricist (a cunning linguist?) and a wonderful performer.

Roger's bass playing was perfect and his energy contagious. He and Steve did the synchronized guitar dance several times. His bass solo during 'Fools' was flawed only that it was too brief. Cheers, Roger!

Steve Morse is the man! He is the consummate guitarist. He played with such technical and stylistic excellence that even the Dio and and Scorpions fans had to take their hats off to him as the (by far) best guitarist of the concert. His range of styles was evident in not only his blistering solos but the little touches and fills he put in each song.

The new song, Well Dressed Guitar, is a complete minor-key Steve Morse shred which is an excellent addition the Deep Purple song list. Not only did this tune
showcase Steve's fretboard superiority, it incorporated the combined talents of the rest of the band to display a virtuosic profile of DP. When introducing the song, IG claimed that Steve had just finished writing it in his dressing room 20 minutes prior. Nice touch!

Ian Paice is and always has been, IMHO, the greatest drummer in rock. His style of solid, multifaceted beats and intricate fills was flawless. The man doesn't need double bass drums. The only disappointment was that we were not treated to a solo. He is the unsung drum hero of rock. If someone says "Bonham!", I say "Paice!"

Don Airey... I waited in anticipation. Would he be a fit with DP? Would his new footsteps (apologies to JLT) compliment those left by Jon Lord? YES! Don's playing was awesome. His Hammond organ screamed, his synth was tasty and his classical snippets perfection. We were treated to as many keyboard solos as guitar solos. Don and Steve's exchange during Speed King was fantastic. Don's interpretation of RB's solo in Fools was right on the mark. The only evidence that Don is the new kid on the block was Roger waving him back on stage when Steve and Ian were finishing the Speed King end-of-solo riff. After seeing this show, I am confident that DP will continue to thrive with this man on the ivories. The Leslie yet spins in Don Airey's able hands.

It was with the utmost taste and style that DP ended the show with a medley of greatest rock songs to honor many of the greatest acts in rock. The medley included Elvis, Beatles (Strawberry Fields), AC/DC (Back In Black), The Who (Won't Get Fooled Again), ZZ Top (Tush), The late-great Jimi (Voodoo Chile), Lynyrd Skynyrd (Sweet Home Alabama) and Led Zeppelin (Stairway To Heaven). Steve led the way by starting each riff and the having the band join in. He would call the stop and pick up another classic riff on the fly. The band's improvisation was seamless. By the time he had finished Zep's STH, the whole audience was screaming for the one great riff so obviously missing. When Steve hit the three opening chords to SOTW, the audience exploded to its feet. Deep Purple are true gentlemen of rock.

DP's eclectic style stood in stark contrast to those of the surrounding acts. I have never been a big fan of 'double bass drum heavy metal'. Dio's dark gothic sound (which varied only when they played Man on the Silver Mountain and Long Live Rock'n'roll) and the Scorpions' pop-laced party metal were much narrower in scope and heavy-handed than the blues-jazz-classical rock of DP. DP doesn't need the double bass drums cranked up to bone shattering levels. It would obscure the technical nuances of each individual performance. Said performances came together to paint a portrait of brilliance of which only Deep Purple could be the artist and subject.

Deep Purple: A-BAND-ON!

Thanks for the great concert! See you in Reno.

James Strange

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