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M.E.N., Manchester, England
November 6, 2004

Silver Tongue
Woman From Tokyo
I Got Your Number
Demon's Eye
Knocking At Your Back Door
Contact Lost
Steve Morse solo
Don Airey solo
Perfect Strangers
Space Truckin
Highway Star
Smoke On The Water
Speed King
Roger Glover solo
(songs maybe not in order)

It's quite incredible to realise that Purple have been in existence for the vast majority of my lifetime, and have meant a hell of a lot to me since I was 14. I was born in 1970, when they were in their prime, and yet they roll on. As I grow older, it is hard to observe in myself changes in attitude and intensity, and to realise that I still love Purple dearly, but that the things that appealed to me most about them have become a much smaller, refined part of their live show - and it was the recordings and reputation of their live performances that hooked me in the first place.
I wondered how I would feel about this gig. I was at the front, ready to be blasted away with volume and virtuosity. And it was loud (ish), and it was virtuosic, yet... well, someone once wondered after Steve Morse had joined whether they would retain that knife-edge uncertainty, the ferret-down-your-trousers sensation. I have been, and indeed remain, a huge fan and advocate of everything Morse-era Purple, and to have them still exist is a treat.
But there's a 'but'. It has become - well - I suppose predictable is the word. It's going to be pretty much flawless, there are going to be a lot of Machine Head songs, they won't do the more recent stuff that I really want to hear (Loosen My Strings, Castle Full of Rascals, Any Fule Kno That, Fingers To The Bone, and going back a little further, Strangeways or Spanish Archer, to name just a few), but most of all, everything will be steady tempo-wise and they won't just go off on huge solo breaks and wind it all up with hand signals once they've decided that we all perhaps ought to go home (or to the bar).
I know I'm asking for way too much, but they are so very very good, that it becomes close enough to being like listening to their studio recordings, and we all know that 'studio' is not their forte, 'live' is.
Please bear in mind that, musically speaking, I'm classically trained, and the frustrations mentioned above explain exactly why I don't buy classical recordings - you know what's coming, it is very rare indeed to hear it stray from the party line.
Purple, when you do that farewell tour (if this isn't it....), please please please go off on one - just take a load of risks. Play everything up-tempo enough to be nerve-racking and exciting, let the solos run on as long as you dare. And bring the Hammond up in the mix! You can't hear the poor man, and he's clearly unbelievably good. Play too loud - everything louder than everything else - and exhilarate us one more time.
Oh, and play anywhere except that damn concrete barn.
The show? An exercise in controlled, precise hard rock. But then I knew it would be, and that's the whole point.
John Parsons

Here we go again. Another tour in giant anonymous arenas with as many bands as possible crammed on to the bill. Four bands in one evening... I know I'm only going to hear 90 minutes of Deep Purple. And 90 minutes isn't enough. But, some Purple is better than no Purple, so off I trek across the country (braving train derailments and other assorted hazards of the British transport system) to a giant anonymous arena in another giant anonymous city... but, ok, before this gets too depressing, I'll talk about the music. Which was, in fact, rather wonderful from start to finish.
Dean Howard's band (playing their first ever gig) come on 20 minutes earlier than advertised, thus ensuring that they play to an even smaller audience than support bands normally get. And they deserved a bigger audience. It's nothing special but it's a good band with a nice set of songs, breaking the Deep Purple tradition of terrible opening acts. They play for about 30 minutes, and the stage changeover is a marvel of efficiency: the next band is on a mere 10 minutes later.
The empty seats rapidly fill up for Thunder - they have a l
ot of fans here and they're masters of whipping them into a frenzy. I've always liked Thunder, but this was my first time seeing them live. They work hard, play well, and generally have a good time. Danny Bowes treats you like you're all mates at his party, and it creates a great atmosphere. Definitely worth seeing. Would I see them again? I don't know... I like all their songs, the atmosphere is fantastic, but I don't feel anything special after seeing them... Hmmm... They play for 40 minutes, and again it's a quick changeover for the next band.
Somehow, I've completely missed out on the Peter Frampton phenomenon. I know him as a legendary name but couldn't recall hearing any of his music, so I didn't really know what to expect (although I recognised two or three songs when he played them). Plus several people had expressed the worry that his style would kill any atmosphere generated by Thunder... Yes, there's a huge difference between Danny Bowes's party approach and Peter Frampton's quiet charisma. But it's not an atmosphere killer by any means. The crowd loves Frampton and he returns the favour by seeming honestly happy to play for us.
And when he plays, you can see why he's got this legendary reputation. The man is, simply, awe-inspiring on guitar, plus he has a great set of songs (some new, some old), a solid backing band, and a genuine charisma on stage. He only played for an hour and it should have been a lot longer. I'm off to buy Frampton Comes Alive now...
OK, this was supposed to be a Deep Purple review. Their 90 minutes start with Silver Tongue, end with Hush, and includes almost everything you could want from the 36 years in between. Five new songs, ten classics (including, as a very nice surprise, Demon's Eye), and the inevitable solos and jams. You could tell they were against the clock. Gillan kept his between-song waffle to a minimum and the solos and jams were kept short (but intense).
I run out of ways to describe how good Deep Purple are - but they never run out of ways to impress me. Everything follows the old familiar patterns but it's all fresh, there's always something new to hear, never the same solo twice... The set is exciting, energetic, fast-paced... and, honestly, if there is anything more fun than singing along with Smoke on the Water, well... I've yet to find it.
I've seen a lot of bands in concert this year, and they've all been so enjoyable that sometimes it's tempting to label each one the best. Then Purple come around, and even playing a short set in a giant arena they remind me why they're the greatest rock band in the world. And this was the best concert I've ever seen.
Except I think Monday's will be better...
David Meadows

I went to watch Whitesnake recently in Manchester, but these guys jusy blew them out of the water!
Pete Mann Bolton

Unfortunately I missed the first act but got there for Thunder... The band were tight and solid, but fuck me what a voice Danny Bowes has got! Despite dancing like a numpty (use the mic stand mate!) his voice was just pure velvet and soulful - Paul Rogers is the nearest comparison (yes that good!). He also engaged the crowd and got them on their feet (which was a godsend to those of us in the tiers who wanted to rock!). The timeslot was too short though, as more B.S.S. stuff would've been welcome... That said the highlight song had to be Low Life in High Places, the vocal just dripped emotion.
I hadn't really heard much Peter Frampton, but he seemed to go down well. It just felt like his laid back stuff would have been better on first as for me it rather dampened the fires that Thunder got burning! Hence the audience were still a bit too sedate for my liking cometh the hour...
Now for the main cou
rse! Deep Purple were pure quality. The Bananas stuff stood up surprisingly well with the classics.
Don Airey proved he is the only guy who can fill Jon Lord's size 13s and did it with some aplomb. Paice and Glover were tight as usual. Steve Morse added a different dimension to the sound, but for me he just didnt have the feel that the others had for the songs.
Gillan's voice still sends shivers down the spine but he seemed strangely nervous tonight and it didn't feel like he connected as well with the audience as a result. The audience were in a reserved mood and I just wanted him try to grab them by the balls and swing them round the room until they woke up - but unfortunately he didnt. (The famous Gillan screams were also not as audible as in the past but he proved his midrange is still sweet as a nut tho.)
Demon's Eye and Speed King were definitely the pick for me, along with Space Truckin'.
On to the Apollo on the 29th - Gillan and Coverdale in the same month - does life get any better?
By the way Ian, you've got to ditch those white pyjamas and get the denim and leather back on!
John Calvert

This was not just another Saturday night in autumn. This was the start of the final leg of the Deep Purple touring machine that never seems to relent.
After missing the first act owing to the fact that it had gone on far too early for anybody to notice, I arrived just in time to see Thunder. I had forgotten just how good they were and in particular Danny Bowes. Although he now looks like your dad might if he was singing karaoke down the local with his tight t-shirt and faded jeans, his voice was quite remarkable. Love Walked In really got me reminiscing to 1990 and a solid act was reborn.
Frampton was great; however his laid back style really took the atmospheric edge off what Thunder had just delivered. I had heard several of his songs before and I suppose what he can’t do on a guitar is not worth mentioning, but he wasn’t quite raucous enough for a gig that was headlined by Deep Purple.
Enter the colossus that is Deep Purple! Usually you can find Paicey sitting on his drum kit getting the night off with Highway Star, but not tonight. Starting off with Silver tongue off the new album was a change to recent opening sets.
This is the umpteenth time I have saw Gillan and the boys and it won’t be my last. You can’t please all of the people all of the time and that was evident when the newer songs were played. However, when the classics like Smoke on The Water, Highway Star and Demon's Eye are churned out, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had travelled back in time 30 years. The atmosphere was electric!
Don Airey was class. He is the only man I would want to fill big Jon’s shoes and he does it with consummate ease. Paicey and Rog were having fun between themselves as the heartbeat of this wonderful band always does. Steve Morse was superb and Well Dressed Guitar is becoming a firm favourite of mine.
Sadly Ian’s voice was a bit nervy and the high notes are proving a little on the difficult side to be hitting theses days. He seemed a little rushed and uncomfortable tonight. However, one bad day at the office in 36 years is not something I am going to complain about. His mid range and harmony were faultless. He can turn a grown man to tears sometimes. As mere mortals we sometimes forget just how difficult it is to be able to sing songs like Child In Time and Bloodsucker. Mr Gillan you are genius and always will be. I look forward to watching you scream like you are 20 all over again on the next tour!!! Until then my friends...
Lee Dickson

Better mix of bands than at the NEC last year and the running order meant that Deep Purple's appearance onstage wasn't as much of an anticlimax as it was after Skynyrd's set then.
But come on guys. At a DP show we know what we are going to get and I now find it boring! House of Pain would have been a great opener. Aviator and A Touch Away and Fingers To The Bone would be preferable to some Bananas material too.
I await the disagreeing, one-eyed, replies, but someone has to say it in a review and more importantly to the band. Please embrace all of the Morse era at least.
And frankly until DP embrace their entire back catalogue (Phil Collins did with Gabriel era Genesis - to name but one example) only then can Ian Gillan be put on the greatest singer in the world pedestal (i.e. not afraid to take on other singer's songs). I for one would much prefer to see DP do Burn, Soldier of Fortune, Highball Shooter, etc. They're DP songs and no one else's and thats even considering the fact that there is currently only one member from that era.
Such a talented band of musicians should really look at rearranging one or two of the songs so Ian doesn't have to strain so much to hit the highs he was once so capable of (and from 11th row, boy can you see him strain).
I have now seen DP four times in six years and I think a break and reassessment is called for by the band.
After Sat. they should retire gracefully or radically alter the set list.
Sorry it such a radical review its not meant to offend.
Martin J Aston

Going to the majestic arena, I couldn't not show my enthusiasm for the spectacle I was going to see. In a four-band billing that was beginning at 6:45 with Deep Purple as the icing to the cake, what more could somebody possibly ask?
Entering the venue I bumped into the official merchandise that was beyond my wild fantasies. A variety in Deep Purple t-shirts, Peter Frampton and Thunder, CDs, DVDs, programs, the special banana shaped 'toy' (so you can take your favourite band with you to bed), calendars, keyrings, autographed items - chaos!
At 6:45 sharp Dean Howard and his band kicked off. Let's just say that the guitarist, who once was among Gillan's ranks, did quite decently and went down good for an opening act.
Half an hour later, plus a little delay to prepare the stage and in under the sound of AC/DC's anthem Thunderstruck, Thunder hit the stage. In the arena the crowd was still coming in, that didn't seem to affect Bowes, Morley and co. a bit though. They stormed in with Loser from Shooting At The Sun. River Of Pain followed, the crowd started responding. They also played Low Life In High Places, Gimme Some Lovin', I Love You More Than Rock'n'Roll, Love Walked In. without loosing their energy and passion for a minute they warmed up the spectators, that were ready, baring in mind the British crowd's love for Magnum. In fact, a brave part of the people attending the show was wearing Thunder shirts. They left very good impressions and actually, I was disappointed that they didn't came out before Purple, instead of Frampton.
Frampton's first two songs were uptempo and for a minute I was fooled. I thought 'I had the impression that Frampton was boring, he's doing great up to now'. That 'up to now' was very brief. In a thunderous applause the artist carried on with his classic material. I struggled to stay awake. Boring, sweet and soft songs, ideal for your parents romantic dates! As far as for the cliche'd jokes of his for is hair receding leaving him shamefully bald, I won't make any comments. In addition he wouldn't leave the talk-box passi. All the bad things have an end though, and Peter took the way to the backstage.
Up next was Deep Purple, the reason that 10,000 people bothered to come down to the Manchester Evening News Arena. With a jungle-style stage set with loads of bananas, they started with Silver Tongue.
Gillan was dressed in white and barefoot as usual was in a pretty good shape.
Morse as always came from another planet with his brilliant guitar work and a great performance of Contact Lost transformed into The Well Dressed Guitar after a 10-minute improvisation. Airey, for whom I have some spicy information that I already e-mailed to the Sun (we'll keep our level!), 'in the blue corner' he gave a smashing performance with his classic solo with bits from Mr. Crowley, K2, Star Wars and err... Tshaickovsky. Paice was as solid as a rock, but without a drum solo. His other half, Roger Glover stole the show with a bass solo with Rat Bat Blue in it.
In general, Deep Purple in their limited time, a fear of all their fans (but with all these support acts what would you expect?) managed to fit old and new material, improvisations, solos, the classic duel between keyboard and guitar, audience play. Definitely if they were given twice as much time to play, they would still leave expectations. That's the curse of over-aged bands (and their equally over-aged fans!).'Knocking At Your Back Door though came as a surprise tilting the enthusiasm of the crowd.
One more time Deep Purple with this appearance proved that they are made to play live. The talent and ability of these five guys is huge and the experience of watching them all together doing what they know best is amazing as many times as you've watched them before.
Yiannis Dolas

Media review:
Manchester Online


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