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Glover and Morse did ‘the Judas Priest’


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As I was unable to attend the St. Louis show, it was up to my brother Jim (a.k.a. “JJ”) to check out Deep Purple in Atlantic City. He has no internet connection, so I decided to relay the events of the night in his stead.

The plan was to get Ian Gillan to autograph a picture of Ian Gillan and myself taken during a solo tour last year, but after the show, “everyone rushed the stage” and it was impossible to get near enough. “No way. There were people everywhere.”

Jim described the opening act as a sort of “Eddie and the Cruisers” type band–possibly a house band that appeared to be locally well-known–that kept giving thanks to DP for allowing them to open up, but in the end, they did a Led Zeppelin song as the closer. Jim wasn’t sure if that was a slap in the face or an oversight–or what. He told me the opening band had a drummer that was playing way, way too fast as if to show up–or show off to–Ian Paice. JJ described the playing as a sort of Yngwie Malsteen on drums.

DP was of course LOUD. According to JJ, Roger Glover was the stand-out and that the bass was thundering. “He didn’t miss a beat,” Jim told me, and added that “Roger Glover looks like he’s in really good shape and he looked like he had the best time.” Glover and Morse did the “Judas Priest” thing, rocking the guitar necks back and forth in unison.

The venue was packed. The audience was mostly older people with some younger fans interspersed, but everyone seemed to be familiar with the songs, singing along with the old classics. The reunion-era songs got a lot of applause–almost as much as the older classics–but the newer stuff wasn’t as well-known despite some people knowing those word-for-word as well.

Regarding the mix, Jim thought the other members drowned out Ian Gillan. JJ concluded that had the level been set at the same setting as the opening act, “It would have been just about perfect.”

The main concern was the inability to see Ian Paice, who was too far off to the side. Don Airey, Ian Gillan and Steve Morse were most visible. Room on the stage appeared to be a problem. I asked if Paicey was on a drum riser, and the answer was that he was not. Airey was center-stage from Jim’s viewpoint.

Meanwhile, Ian Gillan like to put the wireless mic into his back pocket and go off to get a tambourine, or sometimes putting it back with a, “Heck with it!” motion and just strut around the stage.

This was Jim’s first DP concert from the Morse-era. He had seen the Blackmore/Reunion line-up three times in the 1980s. I’d seen the Morse version twice, and I was interested to know what he thought of Blackmore’s replacement. His reaction was that Steve Morse was a very good guitarist, injecting his own style into the songs without trying to be a Blackmore clone, but there was none of the Blackmore-style theatrics.

Regarding the newest member, he said, “There could be no other replacement for Jon Lord than Don Airey.” Jim noticed the band appeared to give the two “new” members (I had to remind my brother that Steve Morse has been around for some 12 years or so) a lot of leeway to make them feel comfortable.

“I was not disappointed,” he said.

As a side note, Deep Purple should have stopped by Kansas City. Over 1,600 guitarists (and probably twice that many people in the stands) came to break the world record for the most guitarists playing in unison. The song? “Smoke on the Water.”

Although the record would (barely) be broken a few weeks later in Stuttgart, the American fans in the midwest deserved some kind of acknowledgement. The feat went unnoticed. An appearance would have gone a long way to alleviate some of the frustration Purple has had with gaining more of an American audience. An important PR opportunity was missed.

Jim Wickman – ghost written by Troy Wickman

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