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The Highway Star

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North America 2


Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA
Aug 17, 2004

Silver Tongue
Woman From Tokyo
I Got Your Number
Strange Kind of Woman
Knocking At Your Back Door
Contact Lost
The Well Dressed Guitar
Don Airey solo
Perfect Strangers
Highway Star
Space Truckin'
Smoke On The Water

Speed King (without solos)

This was a perfect night for an outdoor concert. The skies were clear, and the temperature was a comfortable 70 degrees. Due to a couple of wrong turns and a very necessary stop to eat on the way to the show, we arrived at SPAC late, hearing Thin Lizzy playing Jailbreak as we were walking from the parking lot into the venue. Due to the fact that I was on crutches that night due to some ongoing knee difficulties, we missed all of Thin Lizzy's set, but did hear them from the food court as I rested. The crowd seemed to react very well to them, and what I heard was very good.
We took our seats just before Joe Satriani started his set. I admit that I'm not terribly familiar with his solo work, only being able to recognize Summertime, the very last song of his set. He did introduce a few songs, though, Is There Love In Space being the one that I remember. What a great song! Satriani is an unbelievably talented guitarist, but an almost entirely instrumental set (he did sing one song) is not for everyone. My only real criticism of his set is that he played entirely to the left side of the audience. As I was sitting on the right, it left me feeling somewhat left out. His playing, and that of his band, was flawless, however.
After 1/2 hour of re-setting, Deep Purple tool the stage at 10:00. The set list was the same as the previous shows of the US tour. I was a bit disappointed not to hear Lazy, but it is understandable, due to time constraints with a three-act bill.
Don was having keyboard problems throughout the night, with one of the Leslie's not working properly, but that didn't take away from the performance at all. His solo was amazing as usual, including the familiar Star Wars/Mars section, as well as the theme from the Simpsons.
I haven't heard Gillan's voice sound better in a long time, and Ian Paice was positively smoking, peppering Perfect Strangers with a multitude of fills and taking a much too short solo spot during Space Truckin'. Steve and Roger were equally brilliant, and the entire band seemed to be having the time of their lives up on stage, a feeling that filtered out into the crowd. Truly one of the best concerts I've seen!
After the show (thanks to the great generosity of Mr. Airey), I was lucky enough to meet the band in a very intimate meet & greet session There were not a whole lot of people there, and as a result, was able to speak with every member of the band. They all gratiously posed for pictures and signed autographs before having to leave for a long drive to the next show. Everyone was so nice and kind backstage, especially Don and Amber, who both made us feel very welcome! The whole backstage experience was just an exclamation point on a fantastic evening!
Now, I have to look forward to seeing them again this coming Saturday in Toronto, Canada, though I don't know how they could possible top such a fantastic show!
Stephanie Burch

It has been more than 17 long years (and that makes me feel damned old) since my last Deep Purple live experience in April 1987 when Purple played the RPI Fieldhouse in Troy, NY on the House of Blue Light tour. It was an awesome experience - Purple in their second-lease-on-life reunion glory, headlining a packed arena in front of a (in those days) young, rowdy crowd. My primary memory, aside from the great set, was being blown away by Ian Gillan's voice and good-natured onstage command of the proceedings.
Time has passed, some things have changed, others have not. What has changed? I am no longer a teenager, but I was still in the younger end, age-wise, of the crowd on Tuesday night (back in '87, most of us seemed to be teenagers). The hall was not packed, but the indoor theater was reasonably full with a decent crowd on the lawn on a beautiful evening - I've read reports that their were about 3500 present on the night, as opposed to the 8000+ back in '87. I was lucky to have fourth row, which in the old days would have meant being in the middle of a sweaty, crushing mass of headbanging youth, but this Tuesday meant I had a great seat in the midst of a well-behaved, older audience. Not to say that this is bad - just different.
I was pumped for Thin Lizzy's set, and got there early. As far as I know, this is the first time they've played SPAC since the 1979 Black Rose tour with Lynott and Gary Moore, opening for Journey (a show I was far too young to see). The hall was maybe 1/5 full when Scott Gorham, John Sykes and their latest bassist and drummer hit the boards with the traditional opener, Jailbreak, and a loud, crisp sound. I'm of two minds about Lizzy - they're probably my all-time favorite band, but a Lizzy without Lynott will never truly be Thin Lizzy. Nonetheless, seeing Gorham and Sykes crank out these tunes is the best Lizzy cover band you'll ever see, and I'm there every time they come through. The set was a flawless 40 minutes that went something like this:
Waiting for an alibi
Don't believe a word
Are you ready
Cold sweat
Black Rose
Bad reputation
Cowboy song
The boys are back in town.
I thought the song selection was great, leaning towards the heavier stuff and Black Rose was a welcome suprise - never expected that in an opening set. The audience reaction improved with every song, Sykes and Gorham were in crushing form (Scott looking healthy as hell and playing like a demon), and the hall was filled up with the crowd on its feet by the end. I do wonder why the hell these guys are doing third-on-the-bill tours when they have no album to promote (which, really, they never will because Phil is gone) and can't be making much cash, but it was a great time anyway.
I used Joe Satriani's set to go to the beer garden and chat with some cool people. I've never had much interest in Satriani's stuff, but from I heard it was largely instrumental and he played for about an hour. A shame that the time couldn't be used for longer Purple or Lizzy sets, and I can't honestly believe he put many extra bums on seats, but there ya go.
Deep Purple hit the stage at around 10:00 and played for about an hour-and-a-half.
This is what has not changed from 1987: they were fantastic, and Gillan's voice and spirit made the evening triumphant. Glover and Paice were a thundering bedrock, and the sound was loud and clear. What has changed is that the band seemed to be having a great time, with smiles all around, far less grim and serious than the Blackmore days.
The first half of the set alternated between new and old stuff, and they finished the evening with national anthem after national anthem, the encores being a steamrolling Space Truckin' and Hush which was great to hear live.
No real suprises set-wise, and the setlist seemed shorter than some of the others I've seen, no doubt due to Satriani's hour-long show. I'm not so familar with the new stuff.
Morse's solo was stunning, but I would have rather heard another song than a keyboard solo. Highway Star was crushing, and I was even enjoying Smoke On The Water, possibly the most overplayed track in history. Honestly the most fun I've had at a big-venue rock show in many moons. All hail Deep Purple.
John Moore


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