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The monsters arise – Milton Keynes

When I read that the Monsters of Rock was to return this year, headlined by Deep Purple and Alice Cooper I was really excited.

The main reason for this exitement, however, was the festival itself. After being a little bored by two of the three Purple gigs that I have seen before, I was worried that they wouldn’t be worthy of a headline spot, and that the crowd may be sent to sleep by a set of endless solos.

How wrong was I!

The whole festival was amazing. Roadstar (formerly Hurricane Party) were the best opening band I have ever seen and are set for huge things; Ted Nugent was fun but made a naive reference to the UK helping them out in the war (we aren’t actually proud of it, Ted!); Queensryche were unbelievably dull, and would have fallen apart without Geoff Tate’s great voice; Thunder, as always, were incredible, their set was entertaining, and Danny Bowes really had the crowd eating out of his hand (not to mention lapping up every note of his super-human voice).

Journey were good, not great. I happen to have a greatest hits of Journey and love tracks like Wheel in the sky and Any way you want it, and the obvious Open Arms and Don’t stop believing. They were musically stunning, and the new frontman has a superb voice [That later turned out to be rather debatable. Rasmus], the crowd favourites had everyone singing along.

Alice Cooper was dissapointing. As his set is based around a nightmare, it didn’t really work in the daylight (as most people don’t have nightmares about beautiful sunshine). The set was ok, then started to pick up. The theatrics surrounding Only Women Bleed were stunning, and the guillotine was a highlight of the day.

Then Deep Purple.

Starting with the video of them all climbing out of a flight case, they exploded into Pictures of Home and Things I never said; I have heard both before, but not a lot, but they really worked great.

Hush was truly fantastic and after a countless amount of beer in the afternoon, me, my dad and his mate were dancing away! The rest of the set was very purpose built to rock. They only did one more from Rapture of the Deep, its title track. They then fired out crowd pleasers Fireball, Strange Kind of Woman, When a blind man cries, Perfect Strangers, Space truckin’ and Lazy.

The set drew to a close with Highway Star and Smoke on the water. Roger Glover returned to the stage to have a bit a of a bass jam which led into Black Night, which had the crowd singing to every note. Steve Morse did a lot of noodling which had the crowd singing back what he played. Unfortunately that was the last encore, leaving me wanting much more.

The best part of the night was the absence of massive solos. Steve did Contact lost and the Well dressed guitar very early on and Don did a short, but stunning, keyboard solo later on.

Performance of the night definately goes to Don, who (for the first time) really showed me what he is capable of.

Deep Purple proved what they can do on saturday. Let’s hope they continue to do the same.

Amazing!

Mike Heywood

Set list:
Pictures Of Home / Things I Never Said / Hush / Rapture Of The Deep / Strange Kind Of Woman / Fireball / When A Blind Man Cries / Lazy / Perfect Strangers / Space Truckin’ / Highway Star / Smoke On The Water / Black Night



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