International Forum, Tokyo, Japan
March 20, 2004
Woman From Tokyo
I Got Your Number
Strange Kind Of Woman
Knocking At Your Back Door
Steve Morse guitar solo
Don Airey keybord solo
Doing It Tonight
Pictures Of Home
When A Blind Man Cries
Smoke On The Water
It's nearly spring here in Tokyo, but it's cold and rainy today
(it even snowed briefly in the afternoon). Inside the International Forum, however,
it's hot with anticipation. Looking around me, I see the average age of the
crowd (including myself) is rather high. But however old we are on the outside,
tonight our minds are still the same as when we were kids. In fact our determination
to enjoy a Deep Purple show, I believe, is stronger than back then.
The show kicks off more or less on time, with Silver Tongue from their new album,
Bananas. I think this is the first time they've chosen a post-84 reunion piece
as the opening number, and it's a proof that Deep Purple is no nostalgy band
but a band in present progressive tense.
The quality of their performance is as high as usual, and Ian Gillan's voice,
which is often a cause of fan's anxiety, is in a wonderful shape tonight. Since
'93 they have always included in their shows one or two old numbers which had
never been performed live previously, but this time they don't. Instead, the
classic numbers are performed in closer style to the original versions than
usual. The keyboard solo in Highway Star, for example, is more or less the same
as the studio album version, making my mind do an instant time warp to twenty-odd
years ago, when I was a school boy...
Numbers from Bananas are wonderful too: the title track, Bananas, needs no explanation;
Doing It Tonight is a song that only Ian Gillan as he is now could have come
up with, and it's a joy to hear it live. I must admit I do miss Jon (I've got
used to Purple without Ritchie by now :-), but at the same time I find Don Airey
is a very able musician and he more than fulfills the big task as Jon's replacement.
Space Truckin' is one of the last numbers in the main set. Here Ian Paice's
drumming shows particular sharpness and excellence, showing us once again how
important his syncopated drumming is in Deep Purple. For me Ian's is the absolute
ideal hard rock drumming.
Hush was introduced by Ian Gillan as a song from 1968 (36 years ago!), and it
makes me realise how grateful I am to be able to see this band live now, in
2004. I was in tears when I saw them again in 1985, something that I had always
believed never would happen. This time I am touched and filled with another
kind of emotion. Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin have long been legends, but not
Deep Purple. I want them to remain in their present progressive form rather
than become a legend. Whatever, this was a truly superb concert by a truly superb
Lastly, I strongly hope, too, that they will re-introduce Ian Paice's drum solo
in the set. I think many Japanese fans feel the same way as I do.
For some reason Deep Purple always seem to come to Japan in
March these days, and I saw them at the same venue, around the same date in
both 2000 and 2001.
The setlist was more or less the same a Osaka, including Perfect Strangers and
Speed King, but they didn't do Black Night, which was a little disappointing
The performence was exciting, showing us all the strength of this line-up. One
thing which I find fascinating is that the numbers from Bananas have obviously
evolved further through many live performances, they sound even more polished
now than on the album.
The keyboard solo in Highway Star was faithful to the original studio version,
unlike Jon's recent live versions, and it gave me a lot of nostalgic pleasure
to hear it played that way. I hadn't heard Space Truckin' or Knocking At Your
Back Door since the Japanese tour in 94, and it was wonderful to hear them again!
Gillan was barefoot as usual, his high-tone voice was fantastic, and Paicey's
drumming was great as usual! Roger and Steve looked like they were really enjoying
themselves onstage, and Don, whom I've seen live for the first time, gave us
excellent Hammond sound.
Although we miss Ritchie and Jon, for as long as Deep Purple exist in the current
line-up, I'd love to see them every year.
Thank you very much for a wonderful show tonight, please play Child in Time
The house lights go down, and the new (ex-Rainbow) keyboard
player Don Airey's keyboard sounds off. Thus began the Deep Purple concert amidst
huge applause from the audience.
Deep Purple's sound is full of speedy energy. The second number is Woman From
Tokyo. For hard rock fans worldwide, ours must be the most well-known city in
the world. The entire audience heats up. I see quite a few Westerners among
The overall sound is very clear, esp. Steve Morse's metalic blue guitar . The
show continues with numbers that have long become rock classics. Ian Gillan,
dressed all in white, still has a powerful voice, including the high tones.
It's a pleasure to watch the golden rhythm section from the Mark 2 era, Ian
Paice and Roger Glover, in their energetic forms. The band are in flourish,
following the release of their latest album Bananas and a successful US tour.
I hear they are going on to Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Beijing...
After the show: Jon Lord's leaving the band was a sad news to us, but this is
a line-up with a big potential for the future. Steve Morse, who took on the
difficult task of replacing Ritchie Blacmkore in 1994, has been part of this
band for over 10 years in the mean time. I would love to see this band live
again in a couple of years' time.
The first Japanese DP tour since the Concerto shows with the
New Japan Philharmonic three years (how time flies!). The memories of Ronnie
James Dio walking off stage and shaking hands with the fans (including myself!),
while singing with gusto with DP's backing, come back vividly.
The show tonight is at the same venue, but Jon Lord, who had played the main
role in the last shows, is no longer with the band. Some ask whether Deep Purple
could be called Deep Purple without Ritchie and Jon, but the band has lost none
of its brilliance, they proved to be still a top-class act. It was a great two-hour
show consisting of numbers from the new album Bananas and many old classics.
Great Meister Ian Gillan's singing skill and his dynamic and colourful expression
are absolutely first class, even if one cannot deny that his high-range is not
what it used to be. He did look like he was straining himself during some of
the old classics. While emitting an unspoken message "excuse me, you can't
really sing a song like this when you're as old as me, but I know you want me
to sing this, and I can hear you cheering and feel you sending me energy, so
I'm going to do my best - I'm going to give you everything I can", his
singing was so charged and punchy, it was enough to burst a blood vein! At the
same time, while singing the classic numbers, he varied the style of some of
the lines, and seemed to be enjoying himself. But it was during the new numbers
that he seemed to be having real, big fun singing. I suppose that was because
these songs were expressions of himself as he really is now, and I really enjoyed
watching and hearing him.
After each song he came up with endless jokes and humourous
chats, but they were often overlapped by Ian Paice's drum intro to the next
number before he was finished with the chats - his back, turned to the audience,
said "oh no, we're already going into the next one?!"
I'm not sure if I remember them all correctly, but among the best of his chats
were: "Ian Paice is going to sing 'When A Blind Man Cries' next",
"To conclude tonight's programme, I'm going to play a tambourine solo",
"Thank you, I can feel you sending down great feelings, it means a lot
to us. Thanks you." And while he was mumbling endlessly along the lines
of "...the next one is a ballad, it's very quiet, very sad, very tragic
and..." the cymbal counts cut in and the band went straight into Speed
Ian Gillan really amazes me. I mean, how many other 59-year-olds can sing Speed
King? Watching him, I begin to think of him as my life master. I can imagine
him, after singing onstage, drinking huge amounts while complaining to the others
"why won't you let me finish my jokes for once?!", eating more than
enough to make up for the energy he's used up onstage, then possibly having
a massage before sleeping like a log.
Ian Paice is an incredible drummer. His drumming is relaxed
while he's backing the others, but he clinches all the important points like
no other drummer can - whether it's the cymbal or the snare drum he's hitting,
he does it like a sharp knife. That he cuts in while Gillan's still not finished
with his banter must be an unspoken friendly message "come on, don't waste
your energy on useless jokes, let's get on!" As my friend, the bassist
from my band, and I left the venue after the show, our first words were "isn't
Ian Paice amazing?" I think we had exactly the same conversation three
And Roger Glover. He's such a star, even in his old age!
He simply looks great, as he's always done. I feel Deep Purple will continue
to exist for as long as Ian Paice and Roger Glover remain in the band. No, I'm
not even imagining a scenario such as Ian Gillan leaving, David Coverdale joining
in his place for a reunion of the Mark 3 line-up.
Don Airey kicked ass. He didn't just reproduce Jon Lord's
sound, he seemed very happy to be part of Deep Purple and managed to express
himself in this constallation.
As for Steve Morse, I can only say that he's a superb, top-class guitarist.
The other members, as well as the former guitarist, are too strong characters
for me to objectively talk about Steve. (I'm sorry, Steve, but you really are
a wonderful guitarist.)
Every time I see Deep Purple live, I realise they are
truly a first-class band. Having seen Iron Maiden recently, I've made an interesting
discovery about these two bands: whereas Iron Maiden's music reflect their fight
against their physical age (they may be getting physically weaker but they keep
their youthful attitude in mind), Deep Purple accept their age and express themselves
as they are, while continueing to fight - against themselves of the old days.
I wonder which paths we should take with my band? I suppose we are still ok
with the former. Life is a battle, in any case. We must fight on.