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NEC, Birmingham, UK
June 22, 2003
Pictures Of Home
Well Dressed Guitar
I've Got Your Number
Don Airey Solo
Steve Morse Solo
Smoke On The Water
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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!
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 Purples 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
Keith Thompson - read Keith's
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
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
As for Lynyrd Skynyrd...I'm off to buy their latest album. Or is it that I have
just gone completely Bananas?
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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
Anyway a damn fine night plus it was nice to meet Mrs Glover!
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Last but not least, please Jon, come out of retirement and get this band's heads
out the clouds before they disappear into history.
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!
Allcock, Preston, England
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