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Smooth rockin’ under the stars

Deep Purple roared back into Southern California after nearly two years and sounded fantastic as always with a non-stop performance. This was the first time they had played the recently reopened Pacific Amphitheater, which was almost but not quite filled to its 8,500 seat capacity.

Edgar Winter delivered a short, jam filled set, while Blue Oyster Cult played just around an hour. Played the biggest hits and sounded good. Rudy Sarzo is on bass for this tour which was cool and strange all at once. His playing on “Shooting Shark”, was fantastic, but his hair-metal strutting around the stage really stood out in an odd way compared to the rest of the bad. Too each his own.

Deep Purple took the stage after only a ten minute break (they ran a REALLY tight ship on the set changes). The show opened with Steve playing a spacey-middle eastern mode on his guitar off stage with the lights down. Morse’s rig being the only source of light with numerous spaceship control panel pinpoints of colored light eminating from stage left. They hit the stage running with the typical four songs in a row without a break before Ian said hi to the crowd. The set list was as follows:

Pictures of Home
Things I Never Said (AMAZING LIVE!)
Into the Fire
Strange Kind of Woman
Rapture of the Deep (again, amazing live!)
Woman From Tokyo
Contact Lost (not a solo, with the whole band joining in)
Well Dressed Guitar
Knocking At Your Back Door
Don Airey Solo
Perfect Strangers
Space Truckin’
Highway Star
Smoke on the Water (with Edgar Winter on sax and his guitarist Doug Rappoport)
Hush (encore)

I was very bummed that they didn’t play The Battle Rages On, but this is Southern California where we have strict rules from the local communities and police about concerts ending on time. This was most apparent as Ian did very little talking with the crowd between songs and the band ended promptly at 10:30, half an hour ahead of the unspoken Southern California concert curfew.

This was unfortunately a very classic rock best of oriented crowd, with very few of us hardcore fans getting into the new songs. Most of the people around me didn’t realize Contact Lost and Well Dressed Guitar were songs! Makes me want to emigrate to Europe or Japan. It also seemed a lot of Steve’s solos didn’t stray too far from the familiar, especially during the set closing ST/HS/SOTW bit. Not complaining mind you, but it was interesting.

So much is said about hearing SOTW again and again, well frankly, the past several times I have seen Purple they have always done something special to take the song somewhere different. Having this young kid (swear he couldn’t have been more than 20-something) from the Edgar Winter Band joining Steve along with Edgar Winter on sax, made for a really cool and different performance.

Off now to see them at the Ventura Theatre up the Cali coast. Review to come!

Rick Damigella

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