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Hanns-Martin Schleyerhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
November 4, 2003

Highway Star
Strange Kind of Woman
Silver Tongue
Knockin at Your Back Door (short Airey Intro)
House of Pain
Lazy (long intro by Paice and Morse)
Contact Lost
Space Truckin
I’ve Got Your Number
The Well Dressed Guitar
Don Airey Solo (leading to)
Perfect Strangers
Smoke On The Water

Hush (Ian Paice short Solo)
(Glover-Led Jam including “Fever”, “Hit the Road Jack”)
Black Night

I haven't seen Deep Purple since 1992 and thought 10 years ago it could not get much better. But what I experienced last night was simply Hard Rock at its best.
Molly Hatchet started on time at 20:00h with a 45 minutes "Best of MH" show which was straight and professional southern rock. Nothing fancy, just what you expected and they did their share to warm up the crowd. I have no figures yet on how many people attended the concert (it was not sold out), probably 6.000 which is terrific figure for a Tuesday night.
At 21:30h the lights went out and Roger Glover set the pace for the "Highway Star" which was very well received as the opener. Then straight into "Strange Kind of Woman".
Even during the first two songs you could feel how much liked being up there again in front of a large and really loud crowd (unusual for Stuttgart :-).
A major drawback of Stuttgart's largest arena has always been the architecture which does not allow a perfect sound so the techies had some problems in the beginning to get Ian Gillan's voice sound as it should, but as the show went on he really showed what magnificent voice he still has.
What everybody really liked during the following songs were the very flexible arrangements of little solo's here and there with a clear emphasis on Steve's guitar work. Holy smoke, what this guy got ouf of his guitar was sometimes really out of this world. I have been attending rock concerts for the past 28 years but Steve Morse is surely one of a kind. Also, quite unusual for the "old" fan was how Ian constantly padded the lead guitarist on his shoulder after ever solo, hugged him and showed to the crowd that he does not need Blackmore anymore for the rest of his carrer to be successful with a band.
Talking about solos, Don also had two chances to show what brilliant keyboarder he is. A classic and jazz interlude, followed by a German folk song, arriving at the Star Wars Theme, mixed with the German national anthem showed that he was prepared and cared about the country he played in. OK, sometimes it sounded very Lord-ish and everybody wondered if he really had his old keyboard hidden under the black curtain, but have we not all been there to hear reminiscenses to the old times?
It was great to hear "Lazy" and "Space Truckin'" again, short and precise. But these two songs showed that Ian can't do certain things any more. Having always the "Made in Japan" versions in mind you miss the incredible battle between guitar and a human voice, the improvisation possibilities these two songs give to a live concert can't be done any more. But on the other hand, who cares? The fans have aged too.
"Perfect Strangers" and "Smoke" closed the show after 85 minutes and those two songs came out really well.
A cheering crowd made them come back and perform the standard "Bananas Tour" add-on. "Hush" with lots of possibilities to join in the "na-na-na" and "Black Night" including a Paice and a Glover solo. Ian, Roger and Steve then stayed a couple of minutes on stage and apparently seemed to enjoy the applause. The crowd could have done with one more song but after 1:45 it was over.
If you want to see how a band after more than 30 years still redefines the term "hard rock" and what the difference between real professionals and artifical made bands is, go and see "Bananas" to go bananas.
EG, Stuttgart
(no email, contact the editor instead)

Ian told his not too serious stories (or better say tales) about the songs: "Strange Kind Of Woman" is about his first wife which he married when he was 9. "I Got Your Number" is about his third wife he married when he was 11. "Silver Tongue" is about a magical place in Ireland, where you can persuade everyone to do everything.
Helge Mayschak - read Helge's full review

Overall impression: I had a lot of fun though it was not my best Purple concert, sound should have been better - the old Schleyerhalle problem.
We arrived halfway through Molly Hatchet’s gig. Happily, I realized that the place was not too packed - I like a little space to dance and shake my bodyhair. The next thing I realized did not make me happy at all - the sound was a complete mess. The guitars sounded fuzzy, were way too loud and echoed back and forth from the far end of the hall, on top of this there was the screaming vocalist, in the background, you could sometimes make out a bass drum, a snare and the occasional ivory tinkling, the bass was practically non existent. Hadn’t it been for the “synchronized axeman choreography” of the band, you would have found it hard to recognize any rhythm.
Was it a good gig? No idea. We pleased ourselves imitating the axe-swinging that was going on on stage on our air-guitars. I’ve seen many a band in the Schleyerhalle, they all struggled with sound problems of some sort - the only one that did fine was Deep Purple on “The Battle Rages On Tour” in 1993. So after all, not all hope was lost.
Well, the sound did indeed get better, but not good enough i.m.h.o. There was still too much reverb in it, Glover was audible only when playing bass-fills, at times, the balance between organ and guitar was to the disadvantage of the former and Gillan’s voice was not present in its full corpus - but here, the original sound source was also lacking.
From the opening tunes of “Highway Star”, Gillan’s singing and body language in the difficult passages indicated that this concert would be an uphill struggle for him. He survived in the end, but after his immaculate performance on “Bananas” (his best one since WDWTWA), this was a bit of a turn-off. Apart from these flaws - what a killer of an opening!
Highway Star kicked ass - even with an amputated organ solo. Strange Kind of Woman came as a welcome surprise, played absolutely to the point and with an alternated solo part. (Yes, yes, we know that IG did the duelling part back in 1972 - but I did not miss it).
Silver Tongue - what a monster groove! And even heavier than on the record. There was an extended middle section with a dramatic build-up based on sound effects. Very good! After that, Don Airey found himself in the spotlight for the first time. Fooling around with the sounds of his keys, he concealed for a while that the next song was going to be Knocking At Your Back Door. It’s not one of my favourites and I think there have been better performances of that song in the past - it only started to work towards the end. Gillan mumbled something like “now it’s getting even more painful” and on they went to The House Of Pain. Pain it was for Gillan, who was “losing it big time” in some of the higher notes - but the song was so tight - it’s an absolute live cracker.
The next highlight was the band’s living oxymoron - an incredibly fast Lazy. At this point in the concert I began to miss a bit of the extended soloing, duelling and improvisations that’s one of the band’s trademarks. They seem to have moved some of this to longer intros - the one for Lazy was superb.
Ian sat down to explain the story behind Contact Lost which Steve pulled off with grace. Out of the closing notes Haunted emerged which marked a downward turn in the concert. It was surely the right timing to bring in something more quiet, more relaxed at this point in the concert - but does it really have to be Haunted? Walk On or Never A Word could also have made the job, or what about The Aviator?
In the meantime, Ian had dug out his old vest, and for that occasion, Space Truckin' was recycled, despite considerable confusion to the end of the song, it was quite good. But played without the endless solo section from Made in Japan it couldn’t lift my spirits enough, as it was followed by I Got Your Number. After hearing it live, I must repeat my doubts about that number and my urge to forget the roundabout vocal part and glue the superb instrumental part to the end of Silver Tongue.
But hearing Bananas afterwards more than made up for it. It was very fast, very heavy and very tight and made me dance again. Superb!
The Well Dressed Guitar was nothing short of fantastic - and endless climax of classic scales in absurd speed. The lightshow even enhanced the effect. The next solo feature was Don Airey’s crazy ride through “Melodien für Millionen” which somehow materialised into Perfect Strangers. The best performance of the song that I ever heard! Effective rhythmic accentuations and tasteful soloing by Don and Steve.
And then, the world’s most famous riff erupted from Steve’s amp and that meant that the concert was coming to a close. Of course the crowd wanted an encore - and they got two! It was as if the band had now finally lost their reserve - they played with such joy and - yes - abandon, it was almost unbelievable. Suddenly, the telepathic interplay, the lose soloing and all was there.
Hush was spiced with a gorgeous organ solo and a short drum solo and Black Night was almost endless. It started off as a jam, led by Glover and Paice, then the rest of the crew joined in. Ian Gillan sang one verse of Fever and one of Hit The Road Jack. Just as the band seemed to wonder how to find the way to Black Night, they were pushed into it by the audience who started to sing the riff. A magic moment. Steve and Don piled solo onto solo - there was a long singa-long and call response part between Steve and the audience. The song must have had more than ten minutes.
But well that was it - Ian Gillan extensively quoted his “Handbook for audience praise” and off they went.
Closing remarks: The strongest point was the encore. Had they played the whole gig in this vein, they’d left me completely stunned. I also admired the courage to play six songs from the new record - and they played the four best songs on the record and they played them well.
But overall, the choice of songs puzzled me a bit: Again, almost the whole setlist from Made in Japan, somewhat reduced in improvisation and intensity, plus their two 80s classics. Nothing from Fireball, nothing from In Rock, nothing from WDWTWA, and not even one single song from the 1990ies. I missed Ted, I missed Watching the Sky, I missed Fireball and No One Came. In my opinion they do their more recent work a disservice and fall into the trap of playing Made In Japan not quite as well as back then.
Airey is a good deputy for the good Lord. I couldn’t tell a difference in soloing and sound. I liked his solo feature a lot better than his predecessor’s - which had become a bit repetitive over the years. But his “new comer” status did show on occasions - some songs still lack a certain groove and tightness - and the improvisations do not yet flow naturally.
The whole band seemed a bit restrained sometimes. Not unlike in 1996 when Steve was new. Steve can do amazingly hypnotic solos but his increasing inclination to staccato in the rhythm guitar does not always do the flow of the songs a favour. Glover and Paice are beyond criticism, Gillan, see above.
A good concert, but the last two times I saw them they were a bit better - in 1996 with many songs from Fireball and from the superb Purpendicular, and in 1999 with an absolutely compact team performance, a wide range of songs and a Gillan in top form. But then, those were also smaller venues.
Stephan Krüger

It was as fantastic as always! They have found a very good balanced set right now. They play most of their old favourites (O.K minus Child In Time and Woman From Tokyo), two songs from the “middle age” and a fantastic selection of the new “Bananas”. They even included Bananas itself tonight, which made me going crazy!
Silver Tongue was the first new number, which went down very well. The song even included a guitar solo and therefore was longer than the album version.
Knocking At Your Back Door was the moment when the sound got worse. Rogers bass was mixed in the front (and that was the case until the end of the show.) I didn’t mind because I had the chance to listen very intensively to what Rog was playing. And I can tell you: it’s fun to watch and hear him play!
House Of Pain was introduced by a short harmonica solo. The song didn’t go down as well as I hoped it would. I can’t tell you the reason why. Maybe the background vocals in the chorus where too quiet in the mix, I don’t know.
Lazy was as brilliant as ever, but it’s one of the songs I can do without. I guess I listened to it a few times too often.
Then the big surprise: Bananas - maybe my favourite track from the album. The song was great, but Steve’s guitar was inaudible in parts (at least for me). The audience wasn’t used to the song, so the mood calming down a bit.
Ian sat down on stage and told us the Columbia story and about Steve who just had to record Contact Lost song on the same day. A long version of Contact Lost set the mood for Haunted, which is a great song. I don’t understand that some people say that the song is not “Deep Purple-like”. Well, it’s different from most of their songs, but it got everything a great Purple song offers. But you can’t argue about taste!
Space Truckin’ fitted into the subject very well, as it’s about space travelling. Next was I’ve Got Your Number, which didn’t go down so well for the same reason as Bananas. But the next one brought us all on our feet: Steve’s Well-Dressed Guitar. It was the best version I ever heard of this instrumental. It was introduced by a very good improvisation. People were going mad after the song, and it definitely was Steve’s moment of the evening!
Perfect Strangers was impressing as ever! The light show combined with the rhythm was incredible. (We don’t need lasers, do we?).
The first encore Hush went down very well and included a short drum solo. It fits in very well, as the song is very rhythmic. During the bass solo Ian started singing Hit The Road Jack. The problem was that the audience had already understood that Black Night was coming next and they were so loud that Ian’s voice was drowning. Black Night closed the show and I went home with a very satisfied feeling. It was one of my favourite Purple concerts (but I say that after every concert!)
Do yourself a favour and go and watch them!
Harald Liesk


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