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Atlanta tea party

Getting down to Chastain Park that night with a cooler full of beer was a breeze.

Steppenwolf was already playing by the time we found our seats and cracked open some beers, going through the motions really. They croaked their way through “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Born to be Wild”, which got the crowd moving a bit.

Chastain Park Amphitheatre has tables set up on the floor and everyone can bring in food and drink, which is brilliant. It also can lead to some loud, rowdy crowds that sometimes forget that there’s a concert going on… season ticket holders who don’t really care what act is up on stage as long as the wine and cheese are flowing free. Some of the quieter acts have had to compete with the drunken revelry and have been quite put off by the boorish behavior. I suspected that Deep Purple wasn’t going to have a problem with that!

This was the opening night of the U.S. tour, so I was hoping that Big Ian would be in good voice having had a few months of good behavior below his belt. And from the moment they stepped on stage I knew it was going to be a good night, the band was all smiles as they slid into “Pictures of Home”.

I like this stage set up better than the last time we saw them (with Dio and the Scorpions), as Paicey and Don are level with each other, side by side. The sound on our side (left) was pretty good, but Chastain isn’t exactly known for its acoustics… lots of stone, weird angles, open air, and a neighborhood noise rule that keeps the volume down.

Lots of smiles all around on the stage, good energy, everyone seemed to be having a good time. Ian remarked that it was all very civilized, like a tea party. As dusk settled and the candles came out, a nice glow settled over the amphitheatre. Pot smoke drifted about from somewhere up above us. The crowd was a good mix but a bit on the grey hair and bloated side, though they did bring their kids. Guys with white shorts, black socks and sandals belting out the lyrics to “Into the Fire” is a sight to behold, let me tell you.

Steve did a nice version of “Contact Lost” and “A Well Dressed Guitar”, and generally played his ass off all night. Gillan’s voice is still a force, even if it comes across a bit rough at times. “Perfect Strangers” gave me chills just like it had way back in 1985 at the Summit in Houston, though I miss the lasers!

I can’t quibble with the set list this time around, though it was similar to the most recent reviews. Still, I would like to hear “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming”, or anything really from Purpendicular!

We did get two encores, “Hush” (which was really quite good), and “Black Night”. I suppose they could have played them back to back without exiting the second time, but what the hell, it made us feel special.

Lots of good noise from the crowd and then we floated out to our car, gruntled as all get out. Oh, and we got T-shirts, and they had copies of Gillan’s new DVD at the merch booth.

Here’s the set list:
1. Pictures of Home
2. Things I Never Said
3. Into the Fire
4. Strange Kind of Woman
5. Rapture of the Deep
6. Fireball (“whew! That was Fireball, barely.”)
7. Steve Morse solo/Contact Lost
8. A Well Dressed Guitar
9. When A Blind Man Cries
10. Don Airey solo
11. Lazy
12. Perfect Strangers
13. Space Truckin’
14. Highway Star
15. Smoke on the Water

1st Encore:
16. Hush

2nd Encore:
17. Black Night

Gregory Saajex

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