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Classic rock at its worst – Melbourne

OK, let me preface the review with this – Deep Purple were and just as importantly ARE the greatest band living or dead in history – period. Also let me say, this is as much about questions as it is about a review.

BUT – This night was the least impressive of the four times I have seen them. 1999, 2001, 2004 (best EVER!) and now 2006. Why was it less impressive? I should have known it would be right from the moment my tickets arrived in the mail. Firstly, it was a double header bill co-featuring Status Quo.

There’s only so much Status Quo I can take in one sitting and I found out 75 minutes is too much. My friend commented that they are the most perfectly named band in history – enough said. The second problem was that the promoters were exactly the kind of radio station that Gillan bemoans in the song MTV – a ‘classic rock radio’ station.

The beauty of the 2004 tour was that it was primarily a ‘Bananas’ tour (six new songs) with the classics thrown in for good measure, displaying the band at their living breathing CURRENT best. The 2006 tour felt like a greatest hits package with TWO songs off the new album, plus ‘Things I Never Said’ which is a below par song anyway.

I don’t want to see Purple going through the motions which is what they were forced to do in this tour. Cramped into a 75 minute set (90 minute inc encores) is simply not enough time for a DP concert to melt into your mouth. There was very little talking between songs, no percussion for Gillan, no drum solo (save for a brief interlude in the encores).

To be honest the entire night seemed like someone in a suit was standing in the wings tapping their watch with furrowed brow.

Song of the night was clearly ‘Perfect Strangers’ coming out of the keyboard solo. Don Airey has now officially gone from the second best rock keyboard player on earth to Sir to Jon Lord’s spiritual brother! I love this man! Perfect Strangers has become a modern masterpiece and is one of my 10 favourite songs EVER. Whenever I see them live and Gillan sings that great line of the second verse (‘a thousand warriors I have known’) and the lights come up I get shivers. It’s that good!

From the greatest high of the night to the greatest low – the ABSENCE of the title track of the new album! The song ‘Rapture of the Deep’ is an absolute masterpiece itself, an instant classic. How could this song be left off the set list on a ROTD tour and comparatively irrelevant songs like Things I Never Said and Living Wreck be played?

I have almost worn out my copy of ROTD and that song (indeed the whole album) is proof that Gillan has become a brilliant and insightful (some may say inciteful and some may say that would please him!) modern day wordsmith. Quite simply, the band is at its peak and I love the band. I understand they have to play certain songs every time (SOTW, HS, BN) but everything else can surely be worked around those. To NOT play ROTD on the ROTD tour is VERY disappointing. I felt like the whole night was off and that summed it up for me.

If anyone knows of the reasons – I suspect political reasons – why this gig felt rushed and ROTD wasn’t played, please let me know. Because as much as I love this band and enjoyed this concert, I know I ‘felt’ flaws that DP just don’t have!

To let you all know I haven’t gone crazy and jumped off the bandwagon, this Purple line-up are absolute guns and play together brilliantly – I love love love them!

P.S. Gillan looks more like Cary Grant every year!

Pictures Of Home / Things I Never Said / Wrong Man / Ted The Mechanic / Living Wreck / Before Time Began / Space Trucking / Contact Lost / Well Dressed Guitar / Perfect Strangers / Highway Star / Smoke On The Water / encores: Hush / Black Night

Anthony Emery

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