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Top of the rocks in Bordeaux

The show in Bordeaux was quite special for me: it’s the place I live, wheras usually I have to travel to see my faves … Second, it was kind of like closing a cycle (I hope this won’t be the last), because Bordeaux is the place where I rediscovered Deep Purple with Ian Gillan after 20 years, in march 2007 (see my Angoulême review in 2007).

Things are totally different now: this is my 5th gig since (not counting 1987 and 1991 shows). Unlike 2007, I decided to stand, on Roger’s side. The opening band Puggy did a good job, but a bit too much in a pop style for my taste. This meant: back to the bar !

So was it the beer? Was it the sheer excpectation, my fan’s eyes and ears, unable to do anything but admire, and love?

No, I don’t think so. Some of you may remember writing biting comments about last year’s Toulouse review in which I reported some severe, but «isolated» voice problems of my absolute fave Ian Gillan in an overall brilliant vocal performance. This time, he did a fantastic job without any remarkable weaknesses. We all know his voice is not what it used to be, but we also know, don’t we, that the voice he has is still as unique, moving and …. well, I get goosebumps every time. What an artist !!!

The first notes of the show made it clear to me we were gonna enjoy some of the better moments of the Morse era: Hard Lovin Man is a brilliant opener and outshines Highway Star (not as such, but as an opener); so glad to hear that one again ! AND: Ian is delivering the goods, and the high singing on the chorus says it all: first thought – tonight is gonna be good …
But that would actually be an understatement: Bordeaux was simply one of the finest things I got to see from this band. It was ALL excellent, from A to Z.

I love the way they rush into the set without breathing between the first four songs, I love the lines on « Maybe I’m a Leo », and « Things I never said », just like « Strange Kind of Woman », that are rather dull on tape (at least after a while), have so many good vibes on stage !

«Rapture» and «Fireball» were next, and especially on the latter it became clear Gillan was doing an A+ performance: no breathing problems, edgy elocution (can you say that in english ? I mean, he sometimes tends to mumble a bit on the faster tracks) …

The middle part of the show, with it’s mixture of songs and Steve Morse solos, was introduced by « Silver Tongue ». Good idea; well, at last the choice of playing some of the rarely played « new » stuff seems right to me. Now, if you ask me if « Silver Tongue » is the best choice … « Loosen my strings », played in Angoulême in 2007, for instance, is more interesting, at least IMHO. (how about Rosa’s Cantina, Hey Cisco, Bananas, Junkyard Blues …).

Which brings me to « Almost Human », the biggest setlist surprise. I must admit I enjoyed it, but did’nt love it; although the song has gone through a pretty nice rearrangement. Interesting, I’ll have to reconsider that one in Pau in december.

Do I have to say anything about the overwhelming quality of Morse’s soloing, of Gillan’s performance on « When a blind man cries », that popped up in the middle of the set, just like in 2007 (it was dropped between march 07 and dec 09 as far as « my » gigs are concerned) ?

At this point, the audience was totally on the band’s side, from 15 to 65 years old …

And so Deep Purple nailed it with the third, « all hits », part of the show. « Lazy », « Perfect Strangers », « Smoke on the Water » (overplayed but never enough heard) …. Let’s not forget « No one came », as funky as ever ! Gillan even went through « Space Truckin » without any noticeable problems on the « Come on ! »-parts (not like in London and Toulouse in 2009, where he sounded thin and weak, almost a bit silly). End of the show.

I started yelling « Highway Star »!!! to the top of my voice, because I knew they would only play it on a special night, and this WAS a special night. And … it worked (of course not because of the yelling …. just because they were in such a good shape). This was a climax ! And it sounds much better as an encore (just like in 2007, talking about a cycle !), because Gillan is hot, so is the band … I hear they now play it on every show (Rennes, although not as good as Bordeaux), and they even opened with it in Paris (Things I never said being kicked out of the set). Bad idea !

Well, maybe it’s partly my fault (lol), because I so warmly thanked Roger, Steve, Paicey and Don (I got to briefly meet after the gig) for playing it … I think it should only be played when Gillan is able to perform it properly (same thing with Space Truckin and Fireball). On nov 7th, they did these three all-time faves perfectly, so it was justified. And I am really grateful for that. But DP’s repertoire is so extraordinary, so rich, that they should’nt consider themselves as prisoners of any track or tracklist (well, Smoke is probably a must …).

One last thing: although I tend to talk of Ian Gillan a lot (maybe too much), I want to insist on the quality of every single musician in this band, especially Don Airey, who is now much more than an « ersatz » for Jon. Great performance in Bordeaux, Don !

See you in Pau !

PS: setlist as in Prague + Highway Star as an encore



6 Comments to “Top of the rocks in Bordeaux”:

  1. 1
    jag says:

    hey Man, hard loving man would be an awesome opener, now I wish they come and do this here in the US….how was Morse’s solo on it? This was one of my favorite RB solos…

  2. 2
    elprupdeep says:

    beau commentaire Stephane!
    and a big thumb up for your english too!
    dommage que je ne suis pas en france en ce moment … ils etaient un peu fatigue a Perth en mai dernier, presque 2 mois de break leur a fait beaucoup de bien on dirait…
    long live DP.
    CHEERS.
    RICHARD.

  3. 3
    Paal Hanson says:

    Two years ago I went with my then 15 year old son to see them in Copenhagen, and I must admit I cried a bit during the show, because I sensed the end nearing.

    I saw them first time way back in 1970, and have been along for the whole ride. I love Ian Gillan for his supreme voice, from the first time I heard him on In Rock.

    But that 2008 show made me feel sad, as I felt Gillan had lost the edge, and I made a promise to myself that it would be my last DP show.

    Thanks to your review, and the feedback from all the shows this fall, I have made a re-think!!

    If Deep Purple comes back to Copenhagen I will be back to cheer on my lifes favorite band!

  4. 4
    byron says:

    Ian’s singing was really good in Paris -even on the opening track “Highway star” (not an easy one!)
    His singing is much much better in 2011 that it was in 85 when they played Bercy (listen to the dvd and compare!)
    Strangely ,paris seems to be the only place where they played “Goin’ down”?

  5. 5
    marc says:

    deep purple in bordeaux was exellent, ian sings really better than last year. there are not many people whom can sing as he can(except latest rj dio) and as text of a lot of songs of dp are very importent,interesting and curious you need someone who can really sing.
    instrumentally ian,roger,don and steve are like a good oiled motor, the can play whatever you want. roger comes more to the front and steve has really become the guitariste of dp. don is someone very special with his way of playing and ian the beat of music, thanks for all

  6. 6
    Roberto says:

    @4
    the 1985 concert was just a bad night, you can’t compare them, Ian was much younger and powerful than nowdays (2011??)…and ‘going down’ has been yet played several time…

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