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Sicily: After forty years of waiting

For the second gig of Deep Purple in Sicily (the first in their long history has been in Palermo, the day before) Palasport of Acireale is completely sold out: over 6000 persons are present; among them a lot of fifty-year-old men, some babies carried from parents, other fans intermediate aged and several defenders.

The expectation is huge from months, in fact lots of people bought tickets long time ago, to be sure to be present at this legendary concert. The queue to the gates comes long, but ordered, already in the first hours of the afternoon. We await opening under a driving rain, whipping Sicily for three days, really fool (how could she stop true defenders?).

At 20.30 the opening group, Volver from Catania, come on stage: a valid pop-rock on the instrumental side, but absolutely out-of-place on the hard rock one. Volver play for half of an hour: six Italian songs, full of computer effects and disco rhythms, even if here and there wha-wha or solos peep: these elements make the sound tolerable. We can remember, in particular, the funky single “Parlami”, the catchy “Ossessione” and other pieces near to Festival di Sanremo style. A commercial product, in conclusion, very distant from musical optics of the defenders, but also of the rockers ones!

Deep Purple appear at 21.30, beginning with historic “Pictures of Home”, in medley with the new song “Things I Never Said”, flowing fast with typical instruments challenges, between which Ian Gillan’s tambourine, that will be used by the singer in other pieces, too.

“The Battle Rages On” follows, taken from the last album seeing Blackmore’s presence; Losing the Man in Black remains a severe loss, but Steve Morse makes it tolerable, playing the song as a rare pearl, thanks to a dark riff.

Naturally, Purple know as burning the pit: “Strange Kind of Woman” is overwhelming, with some voice-guitar duets, different from the seventies ones, however full of passion, for public delirium. At the end, Ian Gillan screams we are “fantastic”, “superb”, “unbelievable”: it’s natural, after forty years waiting!

The climat becomes calmer with the new, arab-like “Rapture of the Deep”, giving the title to new album: a refined song, with several rhythm changes. The public starts burning again with the mythical “Fireball”: only thinking that piece is dated 1971, but it sounds near heavy metal, clearly shows the innovation Deep Purple brought to rock scene and the debt that all defenders have towards the band; in fact, at the end of the song, some presents rise to clap Masters.

It is continued with the new “Wrong Man”, heavy, but rich of effects, including a Grand Finale, followed by Steve Morse’s solo exhibition: the instrumental “The Well Dressed Guitar” is magnificent and Gillan, too, invites all to clap him.

Moving is the execution of “When a Blind Man Cries”, slow blues from 1972, real artistic piece. It is continued with “Lazy”, from the same year, pungent, opened by Don Airey’s keyboards, Jon Lord’s worthy substitute, and with the new “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”, very energetic.

Another solo space is for Don Airey, beginning the performance by a hammond sound, going on with piano and honky pieces, with the popular song “Ciuri Ciuri” and, at the end, with spatial effects.

All this is the original intro for “Perfect Strangers”, the only song played coming from eighties production: it advances majestic, with fabulous light effects; at the end, Gillan screams we are “lovely”. “You are my friends” phrase provokes thrills, because the band is in front of a public in love, faithful, which, likely, they don’t meet very often, not even in their fatherland.

It is followed by “Space Truckin’”, slower than original version, but equally pursuing, enriched by a Ian Paice’s immense performance, followed by the long-awaited “Highway Star”, with a blues intro, longer than usual, concluding with a standing ovation.

The same tribute happens with a particular “Smoke on the Water” version, opened by Morse with the famous Boston song “More Than a Feeling”: fans are involved and rise again for a long applause.

After a short pause, Deep Purple come back on stage, devastating Palasport with a long, spectacular “Hush” version and above by “Black Night”: grandiose in her simplicity, with a fulminating bass solo by Roger Glover and with Steve Morse prolonging the song’s duration, making heavy metal what heavy metal has never been, playing with the public, creating some voice-guitar duets, very successful, to our opinion.

The conclusion is at 23.30, after two hours of great hard rock: about the band we don’t add much, except remember they are professional and excellent instrumentalists.

We thank Barley Arts and Giuseppe Rapisarda Management for optimal organization (opening group excluded, though technically valid) and State Police and Fire Brigade for efficient work: we also hope to see again Deep Purple very soon in Sicily.

Giuliano Latina
Siracusa, Italy

Photos by Apa Palermo:
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