[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

Transcendant musicianship

My third ever DP concert since first seeing them almost one year ago after almost 30 years of being a DP nutcase. Unfortunately I missed all but the last two songs of Dio; the last time I saw him was when Rainbow opened for REO Speedwagon in about 1978. Small man, huge voice and a great showman.

DP, as always, showed why they are among the best musical groups of any genre: a group of virtuosos who unfailingly apply their abilities within a group context rather than soloists with a backing band context. The energy level displayed in DP's performance was for me exemplified by Gillan jumping up and down backstage during one of the instrumental segments; he was obviously pumped up, trying to find an outlet for the fire contained within.

Each of the bandmembers played superbly, for me Glover's extended bass solo was a very impressive first. Glover has always seemed to remain in the background, more concerned with proving a solid foundation than stepping into the limelight. I am sure that Buddy Rich would be proud of Ian Paice, a brilliant interpretive drummer whose jazz inflections are such a large part of why Deep Purple is Deep Purple.

Ian Gillan is, of course, the greatest singer, even at 57 years of age, that rock has ever produced. Don Airey is not Jon Lord - and Jon Lord is not Don Airey! Don Airey plays in the spirit of DP while remaining Don Airey. He is a supremely talented and capable musician whose contributions maintain and extend the Deep Purple legacy. It was a pleasure to hear his imaginative and interesting introductions, solos and supporting keyboard work. Recruiting Steve Morse into DP was a genius move. Morse's perfomance, personality, musicianship and sheer joy displayed in his non-stop grin have made his time in the band among the most original and creative in its history.

Speed King, the song which coursed through my brain as a teenager, was a fabulous and welcome surprise. The Morse/Airey duel brought to mind the brilliant Speed King Morse/Lord duel off Live At The Olympia. Mary Long, a paean to two miserable bastards who tried to stop us having fun when we were kids, was presented with great vigour, much more so than on Fireball.

All in all the set was presented with the almost transcendant musicianship that has always made DP the band to see live. I saw Zeppelin during the Physical Graffiti tour and remember being somewhat disappointed. The live performance did not attain the level of the studio performance. DP has always been the opposite for me, no matter the medium, video, CD/record, or in concert; their live performances for me always seem to surpass their often brilliant studio recordings. My only criticism of DP's performance is that I wish they would play more of the Morse-era material.

As far as the Scorpions are concerned, I could not have have recognized their music even if I heard it. They obviously went over well with the audience, but left me bored. I found their music unintelligently simplistic, with little in the way of drama or musicianship to hold interest. The drummer is an excellent showman and played an entertaining solo. Other than that, the Scorpions left me cold, quite a feat in late springtime subtropical Houston.

Jean-Pierre Harrison

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