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“Ian, your music is really … funky!”

For my second Deep Purple gig of this fall tour after Bordeaux (see review), I travelled to the rather medium city of Pau.

Deep Purple’s touring policy in France is quite amazing: Pau, Limoges, Lorient are minor cities where international rock artists rarely (not to say never) show up (although someone reminded me Robert Plant was here in 2006). The zenith was well filled, something like 3500 people were there (just a guess). My friends and I were in the center, just a few rows from the stage.

Canadian trio around guitarist Philip Sayce did a good warm-up job in a straight-between-the-eyes-rock n roll – style (with class and technique).

At 9 pm, Purple kicked off with Highway Star, and I was immediately relieved, because Ian Gillan had been seriously ill on the first couple of december shows, not fully recovering his excellent november shape in the first week of december: so here he was, and it wasn’t a sore throat, it was just Ian Gillan at his best.

Now let me tell something really unblievable: Ian Gillan reads my reviews on thehighwaystar.com. It has to be ! Evidence ? … I wrote in december 2009 Gillan should reconsider his style and just stop trying to sound like in 1972 (he was globally excellent but almost ridiculous on some spots of some songs, for instance the third verse of Space Truckin).

Now, in 2010, Gillan has finally read this brilliant moment of a fan’s well-meant advice and decided to go through an overall checkup of his vocal lines (rather than changing the songs). This got very obvious in Pau; Ian avoided most of the «neckbreakers», and just did what he felt was right in 2010: it’s what you’d call a rearrangement, no more, no less …

The result is glorious! Of course Gillan has lost much of his power, but that’s not so bad considering his wonderful voice, and so he does some of the high ones, but not all of them, and no one cares, because he’s just DAMN GOOD.

Gillan is an artist, not an athlete. Artists may change. Athletes get old. Gillan seems younger than 10 years ago.

By the way, Big Ian does’nt do any of the backstage stuff, he just drives off in a van right after the show. No more beer on the stage. Of course, he acts weird, which is often mistaken as drunkenness, whereas it’s just because he’s an old englishman (which are all weird, as everyone knows).

When Gillan rocks, the whole band’s on fire: the evening was a crescendo of frenzy, with the climax of Smoke on the Water (anybody who hasn’t noticed that this isn’t just a riff, but a great song ?).

It was a Deep Purple concert I enjoyed in an almost adolescent way, singing, jumping, just going wild, and man it feels good to be young again !

Fantastic performance …

31 Comments to ““Ian, your music is really … funky!””:

  1. 1
    HZ says:

    Is it just me, or every concert review turn out to be some sort of IG’s health assessment…

  2. 2
    marcinn says:

    It’s just you.

  3. 3
    Ted The Mechanic says:

    Dr. Dethloff, I presume? (!)

    Narcissism in play? Ian read this “brilliant moment”? (!) Only in the Doctor’s mind….




  4. 4
    Rascal says:

    Old English weirdness mistaken for drunkeness? That comes from living in castles, drinking ale from a tankard at the local ‘pub’, and eating ‘fish and chips’………….tea anyone?

  5. 5
    Stéphane says:

    Sorry, HZ, but everyone among DP fans in France was focused on IG’s health after the first couple of december shows.You may understand this if you take time to listen to Gillan’s, ahem, early december performances (check it out on youtube, especially Strasbourg on dec 1st). As you may have noticed, the Tours review (next day)isn’t what you call a health assessment, cause then I wasn’t worried the show would be spoilt by Gillan’s disastrous cold.It’s as simple as that.

    Cheers, Stéphane

  6. 6
    james jay says:

    @1 no IG no DP. He is the most famous voice to sing with the band.

  7. 7
    Adcawy says:

    “Gillan seems younger than 10 years ago.” – What? Gillan seems younger than in 2000? From 2000 to 2007 he sang brilliant!
    It’s very strange: “driving power big fat tires everything” – these notes he sings nice in other songs but not in “Highway Star”. And where is his falsetto? This one suddenly disappeared in the middle of 2007 like good versions of HS and good vocals generally.

  8. 8
    Dawg says:

    I think everybody flips out because of the weight he lost about 3 years ago. I don’t know why he did but he looked better. I have always said after the 80’s when he lost the ability to “scream” like in the past that he should quit trying to do so much of it. He still has the ability to do things in the mid range really well because he is a great singer, but you know he would keep on. I have seen him and some of the videos that were not too flattering but he stubbornly soldiers on. He has a great onstage presence if you listen to his between songs ramblings. There are some great one liners that you are not likely to catch until you see a video of the show. I am amazed that we still have these guys around and I am grateful that after 43 years we still have a Deep Purple [And a great harmonious one] to be talking about. Just be glad we still have this band. I was 21 years old after Come Taste The Band and I thought, like everyone else, that it was done. Then the great Perfect Strangers album which believe it or not was over a quarter century ago and here we are. Lets have the new album so we can hear Purplepriest bitch and moan.

  9. 9
    OzMcErwan says:

    @ “1”: Yeah! I agree with your comment! But… as Jon Lord said it a lot, you can replace every instrument except the voice! And, still as he said it, Ian Paice or Steve Morse can buy themselves new instruments in the case they break, Big Ian cannot! And by steve, don, etc. you can’t hear a sign of aging, so it doesn’t matter! Maybe in a few years, the talks about Ian Paice will begin?

    I’m so happy and glad to hear such great news of the band! (even if it’s for the fall tour…) I saw Ian in Geneva with the orchestra, last week. Overwhelming! He’s in a shape he wasn’t some time ago! I hope, the next purple tour will be as good! They seem to have a great deal of motivation!

  10. 10
    Joanna says:

    Ha ha, the artist apparently misses his wife during tours, nobody to keep an eye on him 😀

  11. 11
    Made in England says:

    @ 1: It does seem that way. Some may think there’s nothing else of interest happening on stage to take the focus away from it? I wouldn’t be so rude as to say it myself……

    Nice review btw Stéphane…

  12. 12
    marc says:

    the band gets older but the music and singing is at his tops, try to find any other band live on stage that can do better? i just hope that dp will do a lot more years of concerts in france. their is no limmited age to rock and roll, think about the group golden earring still on the road sinds 61.

    and thanks for a great warmup: the canadian band was excellent. i don’t know their name!

  13. 13
    Frack says:

    I agree, HZ. Some people just never know when its time to call it a day in showbusiness…

  14. 14
    HZ says:

    I mean they are playing good, it’s just that Ian can’t sing anymore, it isn’t health condition in term of cold or something like that – he can’t sing DP tunes any more…

  15. 15
    purplepriest1965 says:

    @ 8

    You flatter me.

  16. 16
    marcinn says:


    Why are you constantly complaining about Ian’s performance? He has much more to offer than just singing Deep Purple tunes. The man is an institution, and he’s certainly respected by the breed of his own, let alone the recognition he gets all over the world. I assure you he is still able to deliver the goods! If you’d like to see Ian in a broader framework, follow these links:

    Absolutely brilliant, recent performance of ‘When A Blind Man Cries’


    And a place where people tend to see beyond Gillan’s Deep Purple personae:


  17. 17
    HZ says:

    I saw him last time in Dubai – indeed he has issues doing hard rock, and have missed after that two opportunities – I’ve had enough of listening to RB’s and JL’s tunes singed by Ian who isn’t able to carry on anymore. That’s why we have “he was good on that one, but health problems….”. I’m fine with people still finding something in IG’s live performances, but it’s always health assessment in the end.
    I can understand why true DP institutions like RB and JL are playing some subtle tunes, doing experiments… Some dignity has to be left for DP legacy.
    IG is my favorite, but it doesn’t mean that I love what he’s doing now – it’s sad.

  18. 18
    purplepriest1965 says:

    @ 17

    Could not agree more.


    And yes, the ” health isuue ” is not being raised again and again because people like to bash or out of boredom.

    Why spitting out so much frustration if everything is ok?

    Are we all insane and deaf?

    Afraid not.

  19. 19
    marcinn says:


    With all due respect, HZ, first of all, on what ground do you claim people’s reviews boil down to assessment of Ian’s health? I’ve contributed a review of the recent shows too, and I can’t remember mentioning his health. On the contrary. I am happy to assure you not every review is about Ian and the state he’s in. If there happens to be one, such as the piece above, it’s only done out of love for the great performer Ian Gillan is.

    I observe a little tendency in your postings to undermine or underestimate Ian’s input into Deep Purple. These are not RBs and JLs tunes and never were, but all of them were the band’s joint effort, remember? So please don’t say Ian is singing their tunes as the songs are also his. Say Deep Purple tunes, if you will.

    You don’t say? I think I can understand Ritchie’s and Jon’s musical pursuits either and have absolutely no problem with that. There’s more. I can even get to some understanding of Ian’s musical endeavours… It’s not that difficult, but I have my own interpretation of his music which doesn’t have to appeal to you.

    Agreed. You don’t need to love what he is doing now. It’s just sad that fans who call him ‘my favourite’ are not able to see beyond what he did in 1970s. There’s so much more to his music and life than ‘just’ Deep Purple, and this is what makes him most interesting artist to me. It may all have started with Deep Purple, but it all evolved into something of major significance. At least on a personal level to me.

    Cheers, HZ

  20. 20
    marcinn says:


    Have you ever considered that there may be some non-health related issues? There are sometimes problems with logistics, hotel problems meaning a little or no sleep which usually take a couple of days to be totally shaken off and you get a show in between usually! Moreover, travel plans don’t always clock in as one would expect. It may point to no or little rest… I could go on, but I’m sure you see my point.

  21. 21
    GerAssenNetherlandsAge53 says:

    Big IG was and IS still THE BEST for me. But that’s just how I feel.
    By the way, the winner of ‘The Voice Of Holland 2010’ is :
    Ben Saunders. A duet with him and IG, how would that be ? I’ll tell you : a LEGENDARY moment !

    Audition :

    Ben Saunders & Duffy – Warwick Avenue in The Voice of Holland FINALE :

    Ben saunders – if you don’t know me by now HD winnaar tvoh 2010/2011 :

    Cheers and bottoms up.

  22. 22
    HZ says:


    Have you ever heard Purple members talking about DP lyrics… Silly? Nevertheless, as Martin Birch said “Smoke” is nothing without riff, as well all other DP tunes. IG had good voice, great image – he doesn’t have nothing of that now. Which joint effort?
    Honestly, I don’t see anything after 70’s to be near what he did in that period…
    But IG is my favorite when talking about hard rock – and hard rock is 70’s…

  23. 23
    marcinn says:

    @ 22

    Yes. Have you heard about a thing like ‘a percussive value of a word’? When you consider Ian’s approach to singing, the words have to have this percussive value first, and only then their meaning. So some of the Deep Purple lyrics may indeed be ‘silly’, but they sound good along with the rhythm section and the guitar. So on the surface they may lack some deeper meaning but when you actually consider how they go along with the music… Well… you catch my drift. I would not say that ‘Bananas’ or ‘ROTD’ featured bad writing. On the contrary.

    When some of you people are going to understand that voice is an instrument? The most delicate and the most difficult to be kept in great shape. ‘Smoke’ may be nothing without guitar but it would be a totally different tune had it lacked Ian and Roger’s lyrics. I don’t really think however ‘Child In Time’, ‘Livin’ Wreck’, ‘No No No’, ‘No One Came’, ‘Fools’, ‘Pictures of Home’, ‘Highway Star’, ‘Blind Man’, ‘Super Trouper’, ‘Smooth Dancer’, ‘Perfect Strangers’, ‘Under The Gun’, ‘Wasted Sunsets’, ‘Bad Attitude’, ‘The Unwritten Law’, ‘Strangeways’, ‘Spanish Archer’, ‘Battle Rages On’, ‘Anya’… feature poor or ‘silly’ writing from Ian. It’s only rock and roll. It’s not ideology. I for one appreciate a lyric about fast cars and loose women from time to time.

    I don’t feel like prolonging my post and state my reasons for what I like about IG and his career after 1970s. To each their own, but we’ll have to agree to disagree we may like Ian for different things. Hard rock just started in 1970s… It’s still on and evolving.

  24. 24
    olivier says:

    Just to stick to hard rocking post-70s personal favorites : Perfect strangers, under the gun, Dead or alive, The battle rages on, Anya, Twist in the tale, Nasty piece of work, Ted, Soon Forgotten, Cascades, Castle full of rascals, Hey Cisco, Somebody stole my guitar, Seventh Heaven, Watching the sky, She Was, Sun Goes down, Silver Tongue, Bananas, Money talks, Wrong Man, Rapture… (yes I think there’s more goodies to come).

  25. 25
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Saying Ian writes silly lyrics only is very , ahem, Black and White.

    But I also understand the opionion that Knocking At Your Backdoor might have been better if he had made up less banal lyrics.
    Highway Star is ofcourse one of the songs, like All Night Long, only a deaf man will deny the writer was not thinking very intellectual.

    I d not have it in any other way. : )

  26. 26
    HZ says:


    Yes Marcinn, there are percussive values of words, as IG likes to emphasize, and I don’t deny it, as well I don’t deny that I’m all into DP, but what I’m saying is that those acoustic and percussive values has vanished 10 years ago, completely vanished – for a reason, wait a minute, don’t be angry on me 🙂 – and the reason is: early DP was all about that musical acoustic challenge and virtuosity, and that’s the game which IG fell out of it immediately after Perfect Strangers record. He came back here and there, but…
    Therefore, when main engine, the most “illuminated” inspirationally and musically – Blackers – went out of DP first time, he came with RJD (the best singer in Glover’s opinion he worked with) and made tunes in Rainbow as good and important as Machine Head or Burn, particularly Rising. So, DP “thing” was always that edge of musicianship and virtuosity with challenge where IG was THE BEST to be in 70’s, but s..t, it was not long enough.
    Now, if you want to create some new hard rock paradigm on DP’s basics, you can’t win those first days, and it’s not DP anymore, it’s IG band playing old Blackers and Jon’s riffs and tunes, and saying we are something new.
    It’s because of living, not more and not less. Ritchie can make living without putting down DP’s legacy, as well Lord is able to do so, the rest doesn’t have better way.

  27. 27
    marcinn says:

    @ 26

    “Illuminated” ? Not “enlightened” ? Maybe ‘illuminated’ on stage by the use of spotlights and ‘enlightened’ with the blessing of tasteful guitar work. That sounds good. I AM NOT a Blackmore hater or basher, those who know me will tell you. I love the man and plethora of his work, but I also happen to love Gillan and understand artistic evolution he’s going through at present. Saying the man should be estimated on the sole basis of what he did in the ‘1970s is like claiming you can form an opinion about the book just by looking at the cover. Moreover, sayers could have it Blackmore is only famous for ‘Smoke on the Water’ which is as true as the fact that sun won’t shine tomorrow.

    So Gillan is much more than what he did in the ‘1970s with Purple. He’s a great writer, and storyteller with a specific sense of humour that often leads to deeper conclusions concerning life. Sure early Deep Purple were about virtuosity, and it was a raging virtuosity, as if something had been trying to get out or burst. It manifested its existence in the expression of music. Know what that was? It was youth. Driven by energy and enthusiasm. Youth is also about manifestation of egos, and that’s what PARTIALLY led this band astray. Now, youth is gone but Deep Purple are equally enthusiastic about their songs and they really feel comfortable with what they do. Again I’m going to repeat myself, these are not ‘Jon and Ritchie’s tunes’ but these are Deep Purple tunes. Since 3/5 were once the members of Mark 2; this indisputable fact makes them legitimate performers of what in your opinion is ‘Jon and Ritchie’s tunes’. The edge, fireworks, is still there. You get it from seeing those 5 guys playing their balls off every single night.

    What is your reasoning when you say that percussive value of the words has vanished ten years ago? Making words sound good does not have anything to do with the timbre of his voice and how it has changed. It rather entails the knowledge of the vowel sounds, stress placement and other linguistic features. For instance, the lyrics to ‘Morocco’ sound percussively. Very much so, if I may add.

    Why on Earth would they want to create distinct concepts based on the early days? It would be a regressive band then 😉 They are all more familiar with life and its vast, colourfull panoply of experiences now so they can use it in their music; they don’t need to resort to their past. I am also more than sure they are better musicians right now.

    What pushed you to bring dear Ronnie Dio into this? I find it uncalled for and leave it blank.

    Had it not been for Purple, people would not storm the castles and halls to see either Ritchie or Jon…

  28. 28
    HZ says:


    Not had it been for Purple, but for their contributions in Purple, Rainbow and Whitesnake to some point (Jon).. It’s brighter then sun in the sky that the style and sound which made IG can tour with the rest (playing same things over and over again) was made by RB and JL mostly, they were first guitar-organ engine in hard’n’heavy style, they brought up virtuosity as style in perspective, etc. So, people doesn’t go to castles to see Ritchie because of his work with IG in Purple, but they are going to IG’s DP to see them playing what? OLD TUNES mostly, by their own confession, so Ritchie’s and Jon’s composing work. Or you will tell me that Ritchie merely followed “big” Ian. Well, that’s why I brought up his success in Rainbow with great RJD, saying that Rising is as important as Machine Head (IG participated) or Burn (no IG as well).
    DP isn’t about lyrics, but about virtuosity and great performance of it’s singers with some likable lyrics. IG is the best one in DP terms, well for me. Form me true DP that has brought something new and fresh in the rock is Mk2, Mk3 was great band with some important contributions on Burn album. Out of that, well, I don’t know…
    Still I’m huge fan of all incarnations, but what’s happening right now is living from old glory, nothing more.

  29. 29
    Bill The Wizard Pierce says:

    Their next move is important for the band. Take your time (which they really have done already) and put together a monstrous CD that nobody can have problems with. Well, thats impossible really, but put together as strong as you can CD. and then we’ll see. I still think that Big Ian can sing well, his mid range is still there. Work from there, He really doesn’t have to scream to be effective, when you have a band that is as strong as this one, remember, he’s only one fifth of the Package. Cheers DP fans Bill

  30. 30
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Why is it so important, Bill?

    They are OLD.

    They are not going to win much anymore.

    Ok, they could go finishing it off in a bit of style.


    Ok, they might make a cd with good tunes. That OUGHT to be so after all that time.


    Again, they dont seem very passionate about it.

  31. 31
    Jeogger Matthews says:


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