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Purpling with intensity

Deep Purple’s 2007 summer tour supporting “Rapture of the Deep” made it to the States this week, opening with a show July 12 in Atlanta. And at Chastain Park Amphitheatre – a spot known for drawing crowds sometimes more interested in picnicking and socializing than in the music coming from the stage – Deep Purple won the audience over, devotees and picnickers alike, with a spirited performance the band members themselves appeared to be enjoying.

A simple, clean-looking stage set-up washed in purple light greeted the band as they made a rather informal entrance. Vocals came across as a bit wobbly on the first song, but that didn’t last. The song list drew heavily from the band’s early ‘70s recordings. No objections from me on that choice, though it did make things taxing for Ian Gillan. He had to get creative at times to handle the many screaming lines, but he found ways to make it work and won new respect from me in the process. One time through “Into the Fire” and I’d be hoarse (and embarrassed at my effort) for days. A nice version of “Rapture of the Deep” gave him a bit of a break, but that was pretty much it for songs from that album.

The “new guys” (Don Airey and Steve Morse) in the band appeared humble on stage, just as I’ve seen them before. And their playing was dynamite. Things really gained momentum at the point that “Lazy” and “Perfect Strangers” (both sounded fantastic) were offered consecutively. It didn’t slow down from there. People were singing and jumping about – you might even call it dancing in a few instances – during “Hush,” “Smoke on the Water,” “Highway Star” and others.

All of it left me beaming purple with pride.

Les Thomassen

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