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Untitled Document

NEC, Birmingham, UK
June 22, 2003

Highway Star
Mary Long
I'm Alone
Pictures Of Home
Speed King
Well Dressed Guitar
I've Got Your Number
Don Airey Solo
Perfect Strangers
Steve Morse Solo
Smoke On The Water
Space Truckin'

Black Night

Deep Purple had the unenviable task of following a superb set from Lynyrd Skynyrd, which musically they handled superbly but sadly the crowd didn't play their part well enough, and the whole set passed by in a very mellow atmosphere.
The band ambled on and plugged in to Highway Star, which really should have floored everyone, but somehow the response lacked the excitement the band had. Early on in the set they dusted off I'm Alone (Ian introducing it as a song about chickens!) to great effect, a bit of a treat to these ears. Of the classics in the set Lazy was pure brilliance with Speed King just behind. Two new songs were aired and the latter, I've Got Your Number, fairly crackled from the stage.
Don Airey delivered a nice sweet solo (mixing Mozart and the Star Wars theme amongst others) to embellish his sterling work within the framework of the songs, and the band delivered a storming Perfect Strangers to follow. Now this is where Steve Morse, to my ears, lets himself and the group down. Mixing in the riffs from other songs is wearing a little thin now and maybe a new solo should be arranged. After saying that the excerpt from Stairway was spine tingling.
So closing the set with a shortended but blistering Smoke (only a couple of bars for the audience to sing) the band left the stage to not quite a full standing ovasion. Some folk had seen enough by now and headed for the door, which was a big mistake as the band were soon back on for a take on Hush. Black Night is the final number of the evening delivered with the usual aplomb.
I'd just like to point out that Ian Gillan's voice was superb but his stage craft was only reserved for the first few rows of a packed NEC, this may have been part to blame for the lack lustre performance of the crowd.
As a whole the band were on top form and I look forward to going Bananas later in the year. Maybe next tour we can have a full set complete with a little Ian drum solo, newer album songs and a crowd only there for Purple music.
Robin Haddon

Having been a big fan of Deep Purple since first seeing them when Machine Head was released, I was eagerly awaiting this oppurtunity to see them again. But if it hadn't been for a brilliant show by Lynyrd Skynyrd my entire evening (not to mention £63.00 worth of tickets and a 130 mile round trip) would have been wasted.
Whilst bits of the show grabbed my interest (Don Airey's solo and Steve Morse's rock classics selection intro for Smoke On The Water), in the main I was left feeling cold and cheated.
I know things progress and change but I don't consider this to be Deep Purple, rather just another rock band, albeit a rather accomplished one. The American guy I sat next to (sorry didn't get your name - but he lives in Nottingham) summed it up before DP even took to the stage, "that's going to hard to follow" referring to the brilliant Skynyrd show.
Sorry DP but I won't be rushing to another show, and you know, that really hurts.
Mick and Sonya Simmonds

I'm surprised there is no room for any reunion era songs other than "Perfect Strangers", which is an absolute classic in my book. The band seems content to play 30 year old numbers. I appreciate that the fans will always want to hear the classics but nothing from The Battle Rages On, House of Blue Light, Purpendicular or Abandon?! Does the band not consider any of the material strong enough?
Craig Henshall - read Craig's full review

I only got to the venue in time for the last two Lynyrd Skynyrd numbers, but I have to say, "Freebird" was pretty stunning - even if all the people who originally played on it are now dead.
There was then an interminable wait while the grand piano was moved offstage and then - the lights dimmed, distant figures bumbled around the stage and the drum beat for "Highway Star" kicked in. I was always a fan of this song as an encore, but there is nothing quite like that long build up for kicking off a gig. That over, it was straight into "Mary Long" - probably the highlight of the show for me: this line up has really taken what was an enjoyable, but rather bland, album track and turned it into something that is both witty and heavy.
We got the first of two new numbers, "Haunted" - entertaining in a middle-of-the-road kind of way.
"Speed King" dropped all the improvisation of recent years for an uncluttered, sweaty run-through and "Smoke" benefited immensely from the fact that - unlike the last time the band played the NEC - Gillan didn't forget the lyrics (well, he hasn't been singing it for all that long).
The 'jazz odyssey' lead in to "Black Night" was a particularly effective way to round off a memorable evening.
Adrian Jarvis

The band may as well be billed 'Ian Paice's Deep Purple' now as precious little of the band we were attracted to years ago remains.
Doug Anderson - read Doug's full review

I really wanted to enjoy this show last seeing Gillan about twenty something years ago when he was doing the 'Mr Universe' material when he really was shit hot with a brilliant band backing him doing his vocal gymnastics and really laying on the high notes etc looking every inch the part !
Lynyrd Skynyrd who I expected to be also rans really seemed to have the crowd going and put on a real hard rock boogie show after there two excellent encores I thought well Purple really have to come on with a roar !
But no they sort of sauntered on from behind the drum kit looking kind of embaressed to be there Gillan looked like he'd just been let out of some rock rehab centre barefoot whith baggy white pyjamas on, gingerly padding round the stage as though avoiding broken glass !
His vocals though ok never really exploded as of old and the tricky tracks Child in Time etc were all ignored presumabley too risky for his range nowadays !
The tracks from the new album were real dross and the crowd on the most part stayed seated even Smoke on The Water raised only polite applause ...... a real let down on the whole!
John Brookes

As a 13 year old I was bought the 1973 NME Year Book for Christmas. In it Ritchie Blackmore stated that the average age of Purple’s audience was then 19. Presumably those 19 year olds are now bringing their nephews nieces and aunties. There was a lovely touch for example when Ian Gillan discovered a shy yet awestruck little toddler standing in the aisle just behind us in Row E.
Keith Thompson - read Keith's full review

There's no two ways about out it. For me, Deep Purple are the ultimate rock band - especially with Ian Gillan fronting them. It was therefore with a sense of anticipation that I made the seventy mile trip to Birmingham to witness this latest incarnation of my favourite group.
By a strange coincidence my girlfriend had bought me one of those 'rock compilation' CD's only a few weeks before. It featured both DP's Highway Star and Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama. The latter being played at full volume to within an inch of its life for the last week or so - a truly great rock track.
Oh dear, was it my imagination or had I turned up at the wrong gig?
Lynyrd Skynyrd's set was awesome - and I cannot count myself as anything other than a casual observer when it comes to the good 'ole boys from the US. How could DP possibly follow that?
Well, I knew in my heart-of-heart's that they could. I was at Knebworth (admittedly many years ago now) when they took on and duly trounced all comers - not least the magnificent Scorpions. I was there at the Albert Hall no more than a couple of years ago now when they more than matched the combined forces of the London Symphony Orchestra.
As for Lynyrd Skynyrd? Well they sure laid down the gauntlet - but DP are DP.
How wrong could I be? By comparison DP were, well frankly, dull. I can't believe I just said that!
Gillan's recently witnessed antic of vanishing from the stage at the first sign of a break in the vocals continued unabated. There was no passion, no Gillanesque working of the audience.
Discussions on the slow and disappointing way back to my hotel room centred on whether or not this spelt the end for the legendary rockers. What had happened? By way of defence their musicianship remains unquestionable. And I genuinely enjoyed the new stuff - performed brilliantly (in my opinion) by Mr. Gillan. But if DP are known for anything it is the dynmicism, power, wit, and energy of their front man. Sadly, on this occasion it was missing.
Could it be that this is indicative of Mr. Gillan's maturing years... it is easy to forget that he is now within a few years of collecting his bus pass.
As a true fanatic I tend to favour the view that this was one performance that didn't quite hit the mark. I look forward to the next...and with all my heart hope to see a revitalised DP led with gusto by the greatest rock vocalist of his generation.
As for Lynyrd Skynyrd...I'm off to buy their latest album. Or is it that I have just gone completely Bananas?
Shane White

The NEC gig was the first time I had seen the band with Morse, and now with Don on keyboards. I've heard Don play stuff exceedingly well from so many genres, that I was looking forward to hearing him teams up with Steve.
Disappointed? No sir!
Stunning from start to finish. Musically as tight as you could hope for, plenty of dynamics, superb musicianship and showmanship, and only seconds after I almost burst at something Steve did on the guitar, Don looked at Steve just as amazed as I was, wiped his brow and shook Steve's hand at the end of their keyboard/guitar sparing session. To see admiration like that between band members is really something.
Not having mentioned Ian, Ian and Roger (sorry, but with five very important members of a band, I had to start somewhere, and it happened to be with Don and Steve!) A drum solo would have been a bonus, perhaps, but Ian was spot on all night. Roger was as tight with Ian P as you can imagine, and his bass cut through beautifully. Ian Gillan yet again proved why he is and has been such a high profile vocalist all these years. Nothing other than praise, here.
My wish list for any improvements (if you could call it that) would have been to hear "Cascades", "Screaming" and "Knocking at Your Back Door" - BUT - feeling greatful that I grew up in an age where live rock music was in abundance, I'm still grateful that these guys still show such a commitment to playing well and playing LIVE. The backing-track mimers or lyp-sync 'acts' out there should take note... DP is for real!
Well done guys, and thanks for a great night.
Best wishes to you all.
Daron Harvey

I'd forgotten what a star Ricky Medlocke is too (is it really 20 years since that Blackfoot gig at the Brum Odeon?) Great versions of Sweet HA and love 'Red white & blue'. Album maybe worth checking out.
The Purps? Brilliant as always but can't help feeling the set content rather overshadows the consistently excellent performances now. The band are obviously obliged to trot the classics out and who can blame them when the likes of the Brum audience greets the new stuff with such apathy (ironically I'm Alone got much the same reaction, which the majority obviously didnt really know either.)
Haunted and IGYN I'll reserve judgement on, have to listen a few more times, but wouldnt mind never hearing Lazy again.
I have to say the merchandising aspect has really hit a new all time low - a tenner for a poor programme, some frankly hideous t-shirts, and and I wonder how many fans snapped up a copy of 'Snapshot' or 'K2' for £18 a throw?
Roy Davies

I have seen Purple and/or Ian Gillan more than 40 times now since I was 13 years old. I have been a real solid fan and have forgiven the band many indiscressions along the way, including line-up changes and a new fresh direction since the departure of Richie.
I was really looking forward to this years show as Lynyrd Skynyrd were also on the bill. I have never seen them before and they didn't let me down at all - what a set! Good stage show, and all the old faves beautifully performed. The show was great and a real joy to watch. My only fear was; how are Purple going to follow this?
Unfortunately they didn't do well at all.
I expected some sort of effort being put in as the new member Don Airey was getting his first outing alone with the band. Unfortunately there was no effort put in by the band at all, and Ian Gillan could have done a better job from his arm chair at home.
As for the stage show it was rubbish. Lynyrd Skynyrd blew you off stage. Sorry guys the show was lousy. No real surprises in the set and talk about boring. I walked out about half way through totally disgusted and dissappointed and wondering whether I will ever pay the price again to see my heros perform.
Lawrence Green

Lynyrd Skynyrd were just too hard an act to follow - stage craft, engaging with the audience and a tight sound.
Unfortunately, Purple gave too much stage to Steve Morse - the beauty of DP has always been the way the instruments compliment and talk to each other. What we got was lots of twiddly guitar work - very good I'm sure but not what our little group of five wanted!
That off my chest, Lazy and Space Truckin' were highlights and Pictures of Home really showed that they can do tight, together and not over elaborate songs.
Anthony Kubicki

A Purple UK tour is always a special thing and an event to look forward to, right up there with two weeks in the sun! Well last night Purple shone!
Just a couple of words about Lynryd Skynryd, flaming brilliant! Tonight they went down a storm. A nice touch was Johnny Van Zant having a Union Jack on his back.
And then it all went Purple, opening with Highway Star just as God intended, the show progressed through classic after classic (OK I'm biased but who gives a rat wotsits?).
I'm Alone was a unusual choice but really sounded great. The new songs stood up quite nicely against the older stuff. I would have liked Sometimes I feel like screaming but you can't have everything now, can you?
I especially liked the Morse, Glover & Paice riff-fest instead of the traditional guitar solo spot which of course lead into Smoke...
The usual good night thanks you etc, and then we had the encores and then it's was time to slither our way down the M40 in the p*ssing rain and get stuck in Milton Keynes in the midst of a load of very wet Eminem fans leaving the Milton Keynes Bowl!
Anyway a damn fine night plus it was nice to meet Mrs Glover!
Stephen Osgood

On they came with Highway Star. The place was buzzing. Mary Long next, but then it all seemed to go flat - the atmosphere for the next few songs was none existant.
Gillan didn't seem that bothered. He kept looking at a piece of paper by the drums (Sunday Sport?) and seemed to walk off after every song.
It could have been called the Steve & Don Experience as they were both excellent.
Perfect Strangers gave the mood the lift it needed then by Smoke on the Water we were rocking again, but that was it.
Encore time, with the prospect of a two mile walk back to the car neither Hush or Black night could tempt me to stay, sorry boys.
The concert was great value for money, and we will see the Purple next time they tour, but at a smaller venue please.
Paul Brewer & Bruce Pimperton

Then came Skynyrd. If I had a pound for every "Birm-ing-harm, England" comment from their singer I'd have left the NEC a rich man.
They do nothing for me, not even the encore of Freebird.
On came Purple with opener Highway Star - fluent and fun filled as ever. Then I'm Alone - what a delight to hear this overlooked gem.
No drum solo(?), but the set was so free flowing, perhaps this was the right decision.
The two new tracks? Weeell, Haunted is a definite YES! I got your number I think, will be a grower but it didn't hit the spot immediately.
Yet another great Purple night, with hints that the next tour to promote Bananas will actually begin to see more new music filtering into the set. There is simply no other band out there that can match Purple's energy, fun and musical ability but, please, why cann't we have more newer songs? We love the classics but Purpendicular and Abandon are classics in their own right now.
Tom Dixon

The Darkness were very fitting in the NEC, because it's a very dark, soulless and cold (except for the beer) venue.
Skynyrd were great. The stuff off their new album was full of fast and heavy guitar talent.
Purple! Well, I was really looking forward to this since February when we got the tickets. The show started and then it hit me hard; the crowd weren't playing fair. In fact worse than that, most of the show nearly everyone sat down and looked bored, or like they were there for Skynyrd only!
The lads played their usual awe inspiring way, and even though some muppet had decided to put a speaker in front of Ian Paice, the beat vibrated through the building and I could picture the concentrated look on his face, as he never missed a beat.
Steve was just a blur of hands and energy as he just blew away any guitarist that had played earlier in the night (without even trying), and as at Newcastle, I was just overpowered by "Well dressed guitar". I hope it gets released in studio format or something, although it isn't on the album set for Bananas.
Ian G had a good laugh with Steve, singing the high guitar notes along with the 49 year-old youngster, and look well comfortable bare footed on his Purple carpet.
The new stuff sounds really good, and I can't wait for the album and subsequent tour... if this four-year-tour actually finishes!
Deep Purple rating 11 out of 10
Atmosphere rating 6 out of 10
Venue rating 5 out of 10
Pete Kirkham, Hartlepool

Both new tracks sounded good - but if tonight's set is anything to go by, they won't be given the chance to mature on stage over time because in a couple of years they'll have been discarded and the band will be playing the whole of Machine Head again (as it almost did last night) and nothing from the Steve Morse era.
Let's hope the tour for the new album (which they will hopefully have more time to rehearse for) will show the same kind of setlist inspiration as we have regularly seen from the band in the last seven years - until this last 18 months or so. Save for three new tracks each, both bands churned out the old favourites. I know that's what they think people want to hear, and maybe they do, but it gets a bit repetitive year after year.
That said, both bands put on enjoyable performances of true professionalism and all seemed to be having a genuinely good time up on stage which helps the audience enjoy the show.
Guy Vickers

I have 20 years of fine memories, but this was it for me... I saw a very young band that are beginning to take off, a great band that worked the audience, and a once great band that play by numbers.
I was standing there during Perfect Strangers when I thought... 'What happened to the band that used to send shivers down my spine? The band that held the audience in their hands.' All that's gone. All that is left is a greatest hits band.
As for what I heard of the new tracks, I hope the album sounds better. Is it just me or lyrically have they lost it? I sort of got used to Abandon, but the lyrics were sub-standard, sorry if this upsets some people but this is my opinion (I was a Gillan fan long before a DP fan, he has written some very good stuff, what happened?). What I heard of the new stuff its the same problem.
Skynyrd blew DP away. They showed that the crap NEC echo box can be a good venue, that the reason DP were flat and bland sounding in September at the same venue was because that is what they are now. Flat and bland.
I drift off now... wanting to keep the fine memories I have of a band that used to be the best live band in the world. I don't want that memory spoiled any more than it was last night.
Thanks for the years DP.
Bryan W

As a young Purple fan of 32, must say I had one of the best weekends of my life. Every time I see Purple they just get better and better. I flew to London from the Isle of Man for the weekend to see Saturday and Sunday's gigs and was blown away.
Saturday night in London was fantastic, Steve Morse played out of his skin. The set was well thought out and the new stuff is really good. Hat's off to the sound and light crew - the P.A. was as clean as a whistle and loud....
I must say Don Airey played his pants off.
Sunday in Brum was also fantastic. Deep Purple, take your place as rock gods.
Keep up the good work and see you in Liverpool.
Neil Cowie

I will always look forward to a DP gig but maybe they should focus on being the only true stars for the night instead of sharing top billing (and time slots)? Aim to try and give us a few more minutes of their time (last night was an hour and a half tops). They have such a great collection of songs to select from.
DP are still one of the best live bands around and (Mary) long may they continue to bring their brilliance to the musical world. Suffice to say that after last night my son has now been successfully converted away from the Sum 41's of this world and now appreciates true classic rock.
Andy Coghill

It's been less than a year since I last saw Purple (Newcastle City Hall 2002), and I will be talking and reminiscing about that gig long after I have stopped thinking about this one. That's not a slant on the performance or the setlist. It seemed to be down to the atmosphere in the place, possibly owing to a lot of Skynyrd fans who couldn't get into it - as proved when the guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder after hearing a cracking performance of Perfect Strangers and said "that song was good, what was it called?"
Nice to hear two of the new songs from 'Bananas'. It sounds very promising if 'Haunted' and 'I've Got Your Number' are anything to go by.
Ian Gillan was in fine voice, maybe we'll get to hear Child In Time the next time round, eh lads?
With the exception of Ian's great voice and Steve's blinding guitar work which never fails to make my jaw drop, I'm finding it difficult to pinpoint specific highlight. In my opinion they were playing to an audience that wasn't giving enough back which in turn made them a little quiet (not litterally, my ears are still ringing).
But I still came away with a smile on my face after seeing the best rock band ever and I'll keep on going for as long as they are around.
400 concerts in 40 different countries since 1998 , this band deserves clapping hands in the air, not bums on seats.
Cheers Lads
Mark Dixon

The Darkness - what a performance from a young band, I will be buying the album.
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird made it worth the trip up from Wiltshire. Keep the dream alive guys.
Deep Purple, pause, having been a fan since 1968 and followed them to hell and back, what apoor perforance! I saw them twice last year in Oxford then the NEC. Sorry guys, you seemed to rush the gig through with two new songs which will take three or four listerns to.
We left before the encore as did many others complaining. Rock and roll mercenaries comes to mind - the program was a copy of last year's! Who is collecting the profits I wonder?
I do hope the album is worth the wait, but I feel it's another The Battle Rages On.
Last but not least, please Jon, come out of retirement and get this band's heads out the clouds before they disappear into history.
Dennis Brown

The chunk of "different" older tracks works well and I quite like the new stuff.
I dont think I've seen the band play better. Other people have commented on the lack of a drum solo; but so far as I'm concerned the entire gig was a showcase of rock drumming.
But I think we all felt shortchanged. The set finished, with no warning, after what seemed like half an hour! (It was actually about 70-80 minutes, but when the music's as good as this, time flies.)
I consider the omission of anything from Purpendicular and Abandon a mistake which contributed to the sense of premature curtailment; those who weren't pre-warned were waiting for a blast of "Ted" or "Fule" and so were even more astonished when we got to "thank you and goodnight".
So in the end we had mixed emotions. Overall - it was good while it lasted. Story of my life, really!
John Allcock, Preston, England

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