[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

Dancing the night away

What a night for a Deep Purple concert in Virginia Beach. It turned out to be a gorgeous evening, hot as it is supposed to be - 82F (28C) degrees - for the beginning of summer. This was a night of firsts. This was the first time DP have come to the Hampton Roads area (southeast) of Virginia in the modern (post-1984) Purple era. For once, I did not have to drive to Pennsylvania to see the boys as I did for the Abandon Tour, 1998 and the North American Tour 2001. For the first time I saw DP with Don Airey on keyboards and for the first time, my wife got to see and hear her husband's favorite band of all time!

The venue - Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater - is like many around our great land. It is run like some Government empire: cannot do this; cannot do that. "You're getting a little too close to the stage area. Show me your ticket, or we'll throw you out." Have fun, butů It has never been the best place to see a show. But, it holds up to 20,000, it is picturesque and that is where the majority of the big acts come around during the concert season.

Despite particularly heavy traffic, even for Saturday afternoon, and arriving late and missing the beginning of Dio, I was not about to complain. We had second row center seats. Hard to gage the number of people in a place like that. Looking back - which I did only rarely - the place was maybe two-thirds full? But we were all ready to experience some heavy rock'n'roll. A good set by RJD which included some good ol' Rainbow songs. A tremendous song called Rock'n'Roll was written about the events of 9/11. And - what d'ya know - I caught one of the dozen or so drum sticks that were thrown out.

We get back from concessions and the souvenir stand and we don't have to wait long before Purple hit the stage. [Drat! Scorpions close this one.] First Don and Paicey, followed by Roger. Then Steve. And finally as Paicey starts up the thunderous Fireball, out comes the barefoot singer in white and never misses a note (that I could tell). The back drop is from the Abandon Tour - so, already lots of memories. I can tell they are racing to get as much Purple music as possible in their allotted set time. Barefoot Ian is not chatting quite as much in between songs. Some parts are shortened. Fine. If that means 12 songs instead of 11, go for it!

Song list:
1. Fireball
2. Woman From Tokyo
3. Ted The Mechanic
4. Lazy
5. Well-Dressed Guitar
6. Knocking At Your Back Door
7. Black Night
8. Perfect Strangers
9. Speed King
10. Smoke On The Water
11. Hush
12. Highway Star

Some comments on the set. I figured if Purple had a limited set time as on the last tour, they would concentrate mainly on oldies. I don't blame them. Plus, it's the 30th anniversary of Machine Head. However - even if I am disappointed that nothing from Abandon was included, they at least included Ted and Well-Dressed Guitar. I was most delighted to hear Fireball (for the first time live), Knocking and Speed King. Black Night was extended slightly - a nice intro by Don; a surprise middle to include a bit of Rock'n'Roll Part II.

Perfect Strangers was fantastic as usual. Don included some classic Star Wars music prior to either PS or Lazy. Hush was introduced by Ian as a song that "is about 100 years old." I knew the band was under the watch when Steve shortened his Parade to just one song. Smoke On the Water was the perfect opportunity to get out my Union Jack and raise it in the air for the intro, much to Roger's delight. I had my copy of Ian's autobiography in my hand and snuck onto the front row there at the end, but either I did not catch Ian's attention, or there simply was not time for an autograph.

My wife and I were on our feet (needless to say) the entire DP concert, as were the first few rows. Wish I could say the same for everyone else. Ann was blown away by the band and enjoyed dancing with me to the music. She really likes Ted The Mechanic. I can say this: I never cease to be amazed at how much the boys smile and truly are having so much fun doing what they do. This is what makes a perfect relationship with their audience. We cannot get enough of Purple and we have just as much fun receiving their music.

I truly enjoyed the musicianship of each band member and - I must tread lightly here - I had so much fun that I did not have time to miss Lordy last night. I am thankful to have seen Jon Lord in concert with DP twice and those are terrific memories. I wish him nothing but the very, very best. Thank you, Deep Purple, for coming close finally to my home town. Hope it's not the last.

Eric Robeson

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