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Siegen celebrates 40 years of Purple

As Deep Purple quite obviously prefer stages around the globe to studios, the fact that the British hard rockers are on tour is not exactly headline news. The “new” album “Rapture of the Deep” dates back to 2005 and was presented on stage, among other places, in Wetzlar in 2006.

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During the current leg of the tour, however, there are bigger things to celebrate, namely the 40th anniversary of the band’s foundation. In 1968, the group began to establish themselves on the British market with a concert in Denmark and an album that still lacked a little direction (“Shades of Deep Purple”). 1969 saw the third album called “Deep Purple” with its early classic “April”, but at that time the first line-up (aka Mark I), was already history. When vocalist Ian Gillan and bass player Roger Glover joined guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice the legendary Mark II line-up was completed. It survived until 1973, only to be reunited ten years later.

After endless battling with Blackmore Gillan was once again shown the door in 1989, but has been in the band since his return in 1993. Since 1994 American axeman Steve Morse has been the guitarist in Deep Purple, Don Airey replaced Jon Lord at the keys in 2002. With Airey being a member of the extended Purple family tree anyway, this latest change of personnel has not led to any serious musical consequences, even though Jon Lord the gentleman, the man responsible for crossover projects like the Concerto for Group and Orchestra, is certainly missed.

Steve Morse, the permanently beaming master of the strings, might lack the spark of genius that Blackmore was able to ignite on a good night, but on the other hand he allowed the quintet who had so long been quarrelling to rediscover the joy of playing together, guaranteeing a constantly high quality of all of Purple’s shows. His guitar sound is richer, more distorted, his way of playing more virtuoso and less raw than Blackmore’s. But of course he delivers the mother of all hard rock solos, the legendary run in “Highway Star”, with the same clarity – and when the monster riff of “Fireball” starts crashing from the speakers, the question who is up there on stage becomes irrelevant anyway.

Purple have never been famous for changing setlists around on a daily basis, but on each new tour they keep delighting their fans with little surprises. “Into The Fire”, whose riff had formerly only been tagged to the end of “Fireball”, is now presented completely, pleasing the fans of the furious masterpiece “In Rock” (1970) in Siegen, where the band hit the stage last Friday [1st August, 2008].

“Strange Kind of Woman”, another mega success, has reappeared on the setlist, followed by those tracks from “Rapture of the Deep” that have passed the road test, namely the title track, “Contact Lost” and – later – “The Well-Dressed Guitar”, all of which give Morse a chance to shine with lots of his guitar sound wizardry.

“Wring That Neck” from the second album is a genuine surprise, being – with the exception of “Hush” – the only song that is actually as old as the band. In the late sixties it was often stretched to more than thirty minutes, whereas the Siegen rendition was even shorter than the original LP track. After all this instrumental is a very welcome vocal pause for 63-year-old Ian Gillan, whose voice sounds as pleasant and unmistakable as always. In some passages, like “Highway Star”, however, the strain is painfully evident in Gillan’s face. It is probably out of consideration for his vocal chords that the band omit “Speed King” as the third encore.

The band have brought back “The Battle Rages On”, the majestic title track of the last album with Blackmore (1993). Both melodious and heavy, it resembles “Perfect Strangers”, which still seems firmly established in the setlist. Some in the audience seem slightly disappointed about the playing time of only about 95 minutes, but with their exuberant joy of playing and their dreamlike musicianship they still never fail to rock the house. The next chance to see them on stage [in the Central Hesse area] will be in Frankfurt on 7th November.

Axel Cordes, Giessener Allgemeine Zeitung

5 Comments to “Siegen celebrates 40 years of Purple”:

  1. 1
    Robert Daems says:

    Contact lost is from Bananas, not from Rapture of the Deep.
    Well dressed Guitar is only available on a limited tour edition of Rapture of the Deep…

    The rest of this commentary is very nice. Lovely to see a newspaper pay attention to Deep Purple.

  2. 2
    Rasmus Heide says:

    Indeed Robert; Axel has done a good job of getting Purple in the paper.

    You can find more of his excellent work in this interview on Jon Lord’s website:

  3. 3
    Graham says:

    “His guitar sound is richer, more distorted, his way of playing more virtuoso and less raw than Blackmore’s”

    – I don’t agree with that, sorry. Blackmore’s Strat tone is about as rich as you can get, and he was a master of distortion. In fact he sometimes seemed to experiment with distortion just for the hell of it, as with one of the shows on the Perfect Strangers tour (I heard it on a bootleg so can’t remember the actual show). It didn’t sound particularly good, I have to say, but it seemed he was always experimenting with the sound – trying out new things to avoid playing it the same as the record. I reckon he’s such a virtuoso that he was bored of playing Black Night, for example, the same as the original record so would do virtually anything to make it sound different. That’s how it sounded to me, anyway.

    It is good to see Battle Rages On finally recognised as being a truly classic Purple song – something it definitely wasn’t at the time that album came out.

  4. 4
    AndreA says:

    why DP never play pieces from THE HOUSE OF BLUE LIGHT on stage? I think it is a good album,just a little bit under Perfect Strangers but it remains a good work,surely better than THE BATTLE RAGES ON…(it is my opinion)

    there are a lot of good tracks that on stage could be very cool like THE UNWRITTEN LAW,MAD DOG (pure rockNroll),STRANGEWAYS,MITZI DUPREE…

    this album had only one tour,then they stopped to play these songs:
    it is a pity!


  5. 5
    Tracy Heyder says:

    AndreA says:

    “there are a lot of good tracks that on stage could be very cool like THE UNWRITTEN LAW,MAD DOG (pure rockNroll),STRANGEWAYS,MITZI DUPREE…”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Aside from ‘Unwritten Law’, the other 3 are some of my all time favorites.

    “Mad Dog”….a straight forward Rocker, “Mitzi Dupree”….great story and blues, “Srangeways”…..my favorite from the album, unique structure and very catchy. The other one I would swap with Unwritten Law is “Spanish Archer”. Those are my 4 fav’s from that album. Any one of which would be great to add to their setlist.


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