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The Highway Star

Group and Orchestra Under the Stars and Seen by the Stars

Date: 2011-06-24
Venue: Greek Theater, Los Angeles, USA

June 24th saw the return of Purple to Southern California for the first time in nearly four years. This was my seventh time seeing them and third in this venue. They really come alive on this particular stage. It was by far the best performance I have experienced yet.

The addition of the orchestra served to act as one more layer in the overall Purple sound. Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, string section, horn section, percussion. And what a sound the assembled musicians created. Huge props must be given to Deep Purple’s sound crew, because all the performers blended so very well together.

The set list pleased the casual fans and had a few surprises for hardcores.

Highway Star
Hard Lovin’ Man
Maybe I’m A Leo
Strange Kind of Woman
Rapture of The Deep
Woman from Tokyo
Contact Lost/Steve Morse solo
When A Blind Man Cries
The Well Dressed Guitar
Knocking At Your Back Door
Don Airey solo
Lazy
No One Came
Don Airey solo
Perfect Strangers
Space Truckin’
Smoke On The Water (with riffs from Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC!)

Encores:
Hush
Ian Paice solo
Roger Glover solo
Black Night (with riffs from Van Halen’s Jamie’s Cryin’ and Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll (Part 2) included!)

Highway Star set the stage for one mind blowing moment after another. I intentionally avoided reviews and set lists before the show, so Hard Lovin’ Man coming immediately after was quite unexpected and very welcome. The band didn’t let up until after the fourth song, when Ian gave a very quick mention of Rapture of the Deep to intro the title cut. The crowd’s response to it was quite strong, deservedly so as the band absolutely killed it with the performance. Ian’s voice was incredibly strong on this particular number. I would still love to hear what an entire set of songs from the four most recent albums would sound like.

The middle section of the concert was where things got serious from a performance perspective. Following Woman From Tokyo with its wonderful orchestral flourishes, Steve began the beautiful and plaintive notes of Contact Lost. This morphed into a stunning Morse solo that segued into an utterly haunting rendition of When A Blind Man Cries where he made the solo his own. The Morse spotlight continued with the one song I truly had to hear on this evening, The Well Dressed Guitar, with its made-for-group-and-orchestra sound demonstrated perfectly.

Next came one of the most amazing moments I’ve seen in a Deep Purple live show. Conductor Steven Bentley trading riffs with Steve Morse during the solo section of Lazy. Phenomenal just begins to describe it.

Up next was one of the biggest surprises for me personally, with the inclusion of No One Came, which to my memory is the first time I’ve been in the crowd and seen Purple perform this song live. Don Airey took center spotlight for a solo which led into Perfect Strangers, again among the best performances I’ve seen of this song and another made even better with the extra dynamics of the orchestra.

Despite blowing away the audience song after song, Purple were about to surprise many people who haven’t seen them live in many years with Steve’s “riffstory” intro to SOTW. A snippet of LA’s Mötley Crüe turned into nearly 90 seconds of the full band playing Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine, much to the delight of the LA crowd. A little Zeppelin and AC/DC and the 1, 2, 3 crunch of SOTW elicited the biggest cheer yet from the audience.

This being LA and with the Greek Theater nestled among multi-million dollar homes in Griffith Park, bands are on a strict curfew to finish on time, so the encore came quick. During Black Night, Morse snuck in the main riff from Van Halen’s Jamie’s Cryin’ and then twisted the song into Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll (Part 2) which had the expected effect of uproarious “HEYS!” from the crowd.

From the Well Isn’t That Odd But Cool Department, this was the second time in just a week, where I’ve been in a concert audience and sang Happy Birthday to someone on stage. The week before, 55,000 of us sang birthday wishes to U2’s manager Paul McGuinness in Anaheim, and the Purple fans sang it to conductor Steven Bentley. Also worth mentioning, I walked past actor Dolph Lundgren on his way to his seat in the fifth row.

It would be remiss not to mention opening act Ernie and The Automatics. I had intentionally not read anything about them so as to have an open ear for a new artist. Much to the surprise of many, The Automatics six-man lineup included Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau and drummer Sib Hashian. The Automatics performed a solid set of blues rock originals and closed with a Boston medley that had the previously seated audience dancing in the aisles.

This is an edited down version of the full review I did on my music blog. Please feel free to check it out by clicking my name!



31 Comments to “Group and Orchestra Under the Stars and Seen by the Stars”:

  1. 1
    tony lind says:

    Does this concert come out as a live album ?

  2. 2
    Arturo says:

    I have spent many years following this band. I saw the Mark II and have continued to live the descendants of the band Rainbow and Whitesnake mother, but this is happening with Deep Purple I find it regrettable. I admit to a degree that pays tribute to Led Zeppelin live, to accept the issue of ACDC, but tributes to Motley Crue or Guns and Roses? But what is this? You will begin to inflate the balls to the very holy Job.

    Let them go once his home, rest and let us rest the fans. Those who took more than 30 years enjoying the best band in rock history. It’s decadent politics dull and endless tours carried out and the lack of decent studio albums, but getting to the end to tax bands that were not even born when Deep Purple was successful in all the world seems ridiculous. I do not think we owe anything to Motley Crue or Guns and Roses. Not even the good of Van Halen.

    I say goodbye to the association who has dared to take the name of my favorite band. The band of my dreams. I never want to hear any more of these types. Have failed to keep the name of the band work up to it. From my humble point of view of a dirty legend legendary band each passing day.

    Anyway, let’s face it, nor anything else could be expected after the departure of the two musical soul of the band. The two guys that have given the seal of the group and the music we love. But anyway, I never thought I could hold on to this adventure for so long. The economic benefits must be very large. Gillan was determined to prove every day that is not anyone (never was) in front of Deep Purple without two key players missing (Blackmore and Lord). Will it simple: rescue two historical termite on every tour and follow the same boring live versions. Developments have not changed from the Live at Olympia, and have spent over 15 years. How many classics will leave the Mark VIII? SIFLS ¿? ¿Rapture of the Deep? That’s assuming that these issues we consider classics. That is unfortunate. That musical poverty. Within 10 or 20 years we will see this stage of the band as an unforgettable nightmare.

    P. S. Sorry for my English and if I have been hard, but it all hurts the soul.

  3. 3
    Maybe I'm A Leo says:

    I was there! Great Concert! Great Review!

  4. 4
    bravo victor says:

    The guitar violin duel was so reminiscent of Steve and Jerry Goodman trading licks at a Dregs show. Excellent show, excellent review. I share your thoughts on an all Morse era show.

    Bob

  5. 5
    DAVID LARANDEAU says:

    I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAID.I ALMOST DIDNT GO TO THE
    SHOW,BUT I SHELLED OUT SOME CASH AND 4TH ROW CENTER.
    ITS THE BEST SEATS I EVER HAD.I KNOW IAN CANT SING LIKE HE
    DID YEARS A GO,BUT I DONT THINK HE WILL EVER STOP.PEOPLE
    NEXT TO ME WERE SHOCKED AND ASK ME IF THEY ALLWAYS
    SOUNDED THIS GOOD.PEOPLE JUST TALK ABOUT BLACK SABBOTH AND LED ZEP,PURPLE IS THAT SMOKE ON THE WATER GROUP.
    BEST SHOW IVE SEEN SINCE THE 80’S.I THINK IAN AND RIP DIO
    COULD SING FOR EVER.THERE THE BEST PURE SINGERS OUT OF THAT ERA.I THINK

  6. 6
    micke says:

    That is such a great version of Knocking!! Thanks!

  7. 7
    Eddie6string says:

    Give this man an ‘Access all Areas’ pass for Life – for any gig by anyone (Well, they should make them!)

    Good account, Good read, (Tell the young people today, & they won’t believe you) yep, I’d say you put Four Yorkshiremen to shame there George, I can hear John Clease writing a scetch about ‘Hardships of DP fans’ as we speak.

  8. 8
    ozzie says:

    It took me 800 miles to get here. I live in ELP, Texas and LA (or Vegas) were the closest venues to my city. So this was actually a very expensive DP Concert, but the way I see it is; Airline Tickets=$600, Hotel reservations=$300, Two tickets to see DP in LA @ Greek Theatre=Priceless.

    My seats were far stage left and in front of a mountain of speakers, so sometimes Steve’s guitar drowned the orchestra
    But I loved every minute of it. thanks for a great concert.
    After the show I waited backstage and got Steve’s, Roger’s and Don’s autgraphs on my Rapture of the Deep Live edition and Live from Mountrex CD’s, as well as the setlist sheet.
    DP rules!!

  9. 9
    bravo victor says:

    We were about 10 rows back and dead center. Sound was pretty much perfect and not so loud I needed earplugs. The guys were just totally on. Weather was perfect and the venue is top rate. Only thing that I missed were more mk Morse material, particularly SIFLS.

    Bob

  10. 10
    The Holy Chair says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjQRJIvBChk&feature=player_embedded

  11. 11
    stoffer says:

    @ 2 Sorry you feel the way you do, you are entitled to your opinion of course. Were you at the show?? Any of the shows on the orchestra tour?? If you were and still feel that way, that’s too bad, but you are outnumbered! I think Morse plays snipets of other songs to have fun with the fans and also to pay tribute to other musicians they are not taking a backseat to anyone by playing other bands RIFFS. Go to a show on this tour if you can bring yourself out of the MKII era, and I hope you change your mind, if not, at least you tried!
    cheers

  12. 12
    The Holy Chair says:

    Ritchie once replied, when asked by JLT about their new album, “Motley who?!”

  13. 13
    COCOBEACHSILVERSTRATSURFER says:

    I LIKE TO SEE GUYS THAT COMPLAINS SEE GILLAN DO A PERRY COMO TRIBUTE !!!!!!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!1 SITTIN INBETWEEN ALL THE MONTY PYTHON GUYS ESPECIALLY THE GUY THAT SAYS YA MIND IF I SIT HERE & HE MAKES THE WHIP CREAM & BREAKS PLATES GOIN DOO DO DO DO DOOOO DOOOOT !!!!!1 HA HA HA AH AH AH AH AH AHA HO!!!! & BENNY HILL IN A MAID DRESS WITH A BOTTLE OF FAIRY LIQUID ~ WEARING BOOTS !!!!!!! GO TO OZZY FRONT ROW EXPENSIVE TIK I THINK HE DOES IT TO MAKE FUN OF STONES & THEM ~ THE FANCY WELL DRESSED GIRLS & RICH GUYS & 4REAL IN MIDST OF SHOW OZZY COMES OUT LAFFIN HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HOOOOOOO BIGGEST JESTIN LAFFIN EVER GIANTIST EVER !!!!!!!!!! BIG 4REAL = GIANT FIREHYDRANTSIZE = HOSES EVERYONE SUPER SOAKED ALL THE FANCY LADIES FAT & RICH GUYS & SURFERS WHO KNEW !!!!!!!!!!!! ITS THE FUNNIEST THING I EVER SEEEEEEEEEED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LIVE LONG DUDES PLAY GEEETARS !!!!!!!!!! DONT WORRY ABOUT YER ENGLISH JUST SAVE THE WORLD &ECOLOGY & ANIMALS 4 RITCHIE & PARTY OUT SUPER HEALTHY BEEEEEE A HIWAY * ^^^^^^^^^^^^ FLOATATION IS GROOVY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MAKE A SUPER RAINBOW OUTTA EVERYTHING ******************

  14. 14
    alf + says:

    oh my god again this blondy guitar playing tribute for led zep…. is a shame… Blackmore come backkk !!!!

  15. 15
    Larry R. Toering says:

    Doubters… haters… get lost I say! This tour was mighty successful and the band played well and Ian sang well at *most* every show according to the clips that were quality enough to do justice, and that is the only footage that matters cause the rest can make the best show seem absolutely horrible.and there is a shite load if them up now. I just want to tell the idiots to shut up already, especially people talking who weren’t even in attendance at any of the shows. Pull your head out and see this as the constructive criticism it is, and forget about the thought of it being any kind of personal attack because saying some of the grabage #2 said, it’s obvious someone is bitter and can’t find an adult way to express them self. On top of that all you haters, Purple went from #2 to #1 in the UK best selling acts this week, and that was before the US tour and it’s great feedback, and that’s what I call DOING THE BUSINESS!(glad I didn’t have to off on the Blackmore vs. Morse factor, but it’s still written all over #2’s post)

    A direct lift here from Hristo in Bulgaria, read and weep, this is how they roll.

    Deep Purple – The Songs That Built Rock Tour Ticket sales:
    According to Ticketmaster, on 16 April Deep Purple reached #2 in the list of week’s biggest ticket-selling artists in the UK. (Download Festival being #1). The band sold nearly 70,000 tickets in two days. The fourth day of ticket sales saw them as the #1 bestseller artists of the week in the UK.[5]
    The LG Arena show in Birmingham sold out after one week of ticket sales.

  16. 16
    Larry R. Toering says:

    ‘erm… ‘that’ week, it was, sorry about that, but it’s the same tour concept so it makes no difference, it is what it is, success. And that doesn’t come easy, old, new, or sporting someone you can’t handle in your idol’s place.

  17. 17
    SEVEN-47 says:

    STEVE didn’t play “The Riff” intro in Minneapolis! 🙁

  18. 18
    Arturo says:

    I’m not speaking for free. My criticisms are based. In criticizing this training is because I have seen. It is true that I have not seen on this tour (and I’ll see), but I’ve seen four times with Morse (with orchestra once) and I can say that I have not contributed anything. The shows are weary, repetitive and very predictable. Precisely what never was Deep Purple.

    This invention of the orchestra is to want to give it a twist, in order to continue using the name of Deep Purple. Prolong this indefinitely. I understand, but criticized them for this attitude. To continue on the road with a name like that they are using need to provide quality work that will match the name. Something that does not happen from editing Purpendicular.

    P. S. The last time I saw I was about to leave the concert. Bored sheep.

  19. 19
    Matt D. says:

    Well, for starters I will say that there is no other band I want to see more than DP today. I saw them 4 times from 2000 to 2011 last month in Canada and loved every show. However I must say that as brilliant as Morse and Airey are I was a little dissapointed that they really have not added any variation or surprises to there solos since the last time I saw them in 2006. I like to see variety and I know they are capable of it. At the last show I saw I was most impressed with Gillan and Glover.

  20. 20
    Masse444 says:

    They’ve finally dropped the keys to fit Gillan’s current voice on a number of tracks. Great move!! Good Job guys! He sounds as good as he deserves to, and will keep his voice much stronger for many shows in a row…

  21. 21
    Roberto says:

    Never liked the “riff” song by Steve Morse…Other bands should pay tribute to Deep Purple, not the opposite…anyway it’s evident that Purple members are more involved in their solo albums than in the band…the attitude now is to live thanks to the past and enjoying playing live with pratically the same tracklist from years…this is really sad…but yes, it’s better to have “bored Purples” (they still play well and that’s the reason why I’ll go to the show) than Purple at all…

  22. 22
    Victor says:

    #2: It’s simple, don’t go and why in the blue heavens would you visit this or any other purple site? Get over your man crush on Blackmore and Lord. #1: Loved your review – I was there and concur 100%. Drove from Northern California (420 miles) to see Purple with the Orchestra and was not disappointed. Then drove 420 miles back to see Purple in Concord without the Orchestra – was even better & louder. Was in the tenth row in LA & 5th row in Concord – enjoyed every minute of it. Long live Purple with Airey & Morse! In 1968/69, I liked Purple with the original line-up. In 1972 I loved Purple with Lord and Blackmore. In 2011 I still love Deep Purple – Great shows, guys – thanks for coming to the US.

  23. 23
    StratKat (a.k.a. 'T') says:

    Language barriers sometimes limit the ability of non-English speakers to express themselves in English, but I believe I understand what Arturo was saying–even if I do not necessarily agree with it.

    Deep Purple is above and beyond many of the bands quoted by Morse in his ‘time machine’ introduction to “Smoke”. Mötley Crüe? AC/DC? Seriously? Certainly Purple is of a much larger caliber musically than that.

    I am often bemused that Purple is considered by many to be “heavy metal” and is listed alongside 80’s hair bands that have little to do with Purple musically or philosophically. In that respect, the ‘time machine’ intro might appear to be incongruous and perpetuate that stereotype.

    However, I agree, as someone said, that the intro is intended to get the fans excited and to put Purple into perspective among the greatest “riffmeisters” of all time.

    In my opinion, the net effect of the intro is to say, “Look at all these ‘great’ rock songs…many songs by groups who are more popular that we are and who got more credit than we did…and most who are not around anymore…but the KING…is ‘Smoke on the Water.'”

    The second issue that Arturo made is regarding the current line up. It has been noted that Steve Morse has been in Purple longer than any other guitarist, and this fact has been repeated ad nauseam to instill a sense of legitimacy to his devotees in the Blackmore vs. Morse debate. What has gone ignored is the amount of output–thirteen studio albums vs. four–and the number of “classics” produced by each, in this case, too many to count vs. a relative handful. It cannot be denied that in terms of both quality and quantity, the output of Purple has declined since the departure of Blackmore, and later Lord.

    That said, the contribution of Morse and Airey to the continued longevity of the band cannot be understated, and their participation is greatly appreciated. Both are musician’s musicians who appreciate the role they play and what it takes to step into those roles. Certainly, I listen to Morse-era Purple on a much greater scale than the 13:4 ratio would suggest–MUCH more!

    I agree with Arturo that the shows are fairly repetitive from a setlist standpoint–but I also feel the band does the best job they can at pleasing the most amount of people most of the time. They have thrown in a few unusual things from time to time, but can’t please everyone. Someone will undoubtedly leave a concert saying, “I don’t understand why they didn’t play x, y, and z.” Personally, I would like to see long, extending jamming like the old days–done successfully more recently with songs like “’69” and “Fools”. Others would take that opportunity to go to the bathroom. Everyone has different taste. That is a fact that makes everyone difficult to satisfy.

    One other point must be made.

    A great deal has been written about Purple’s live show, particularly on this tour. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend any of the shows–but my brother did. He saw the Atlantic City performance and reported a great deal of trepidation because of the quality of the opening act. Leery that Purple would not be able to follow, he found his fears COMPLETELY unjustified. No matter how good the openers Ernie & the Mechanics were, when Purple took the stage, my brother found that the bar went up considerably. “They came out JAMMING,” he said, adding that they pulled out all the stops–perhaps pushed a bit by the quality of the openers. He had seen several incarnations of Purple over the years, and surprisingly to me, said this was the best of the shows he had seen.

    The point is that any rumors of Purple’s demise in musicianship quality or life expectancy are greatly exaggerated. I respect Arturo’s opinion and one has to admit that some of the points he addresses are valid–even if not everyone agrees.

  24. 24
    Eddie6string says:

    @23

    You might (or Might not) like to know that when AC/DC were auditioning replacements for Bonn Scott (Nice bloke!) several of the Throat warbling hopefuls requested that the band perform ‘Smoke on the Water’ for them to sing along to – That would have made an interesting Youtube moment if it had existed!!!

    I think I’ve already told the one where we had Black Sabbath’s Bill Ward playing BURN at a Jam session – again it was unrecorded for Posterity!

    I’m glad that Steve does some other bands riffs – it’s refreshing, but I’ve never seen him do ‘Carry on my Wayward Son’ by KANSAS? = Killer Riff & Steve has a sort of License to play this one surely?

    Would be good to hear the occasional ‘Rat Bat Blue’ Riff or ‘Sail Away’ prior to Smoke!

  25. 25
    Victor says:

    Well said, StratKat! The fun part of traveling 840 miles is it gives one the opportunity to listen to Deep Purple’s varied catalog. With that said, I find the Morse era material to be quite exceptional and holds up very well against all of Deep Purple’s prior output. The growth of the band, especially, stands out in latter day material. With that said, however, one cannot go back in time to ones youth. Just can’t happen! Why bemoan that fact?
    What we have before us is Deep Purple with Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Don Airey and Steve Morse. Damn good band! Worth the price of a ticket, the travel, and, a brand new t-shirt!!!!

  26. 26
    Larry R. Toering says:

    I think Steve Morse sees them largely as heavy metal, and he understands that variaion of hard rock, but to take them down the road they sort of inadvertently created is not to understand hard rock much at all. The attitude gets stripped when that happens, and it’s just a frown turned upside down. This is one of his faults if he has any, your milage may differ, but other than that he has shown he fits the job description they chose him to fill, even if it changes the former beyond recognition. At least they function like a band, instead of some guys together with one clearly in another world.

  27. 27
    Roberto says:

    @24
    -Ac/Dc asked to Dan Mccafferty to sing with them but He refused…
    -“Black Sabbath’s Bill Ward playing BURN at a Jam session ” : when? where? who were the other musicians?

  28. 28
    Scott says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of this tour and it sounds like Purple still got it. IT’S TOO BAD THEY DIDN’T QUITE HAVE IT WHEN THEY PLAYED CASINO RAMA ON JUNE 3RD. I’m guessing they used Canada as the warm up for the tour.

  29. 29
    Tracy Heyder (aka Zero the Hero) says:

    The ‘Riff Parade’ is a simple, yet meaningful part of where Purple are and what they have to say. These Riffs that Morse throws out there are from songs that are easily recognized by “radio hit’ listeners. They are riffs from songs that whether or not are from a better or worst band than Purple, they are major Hits that along with his ability to project the feeling that the radio channel is being changed between ‘riffs’, it is all about introducing SOTW as one of those songs. Yes, SOTW is by far the most known monster riff of them all, and Purple are not threatened by all of those others. SOTW used to be the constant closer of the night back when it was The Purple hit, and continued to be so long after. They finally got tired enough of the same old encore and moved into the middle of the set. Though it still remains The Staple song for the Purps, they have decided to do something else with it. Using the Riff Parade is a great way to introduce it as coming up. There is no harm done by short snippets of songs that are easily recognized by a short glimpse of the main riff. That’s the beauty of having a hit song as big as SOTW. It stands out, and that riff will always be known. Just like most of the riffs Morse does regarding those ‘other bands’. It’s perfect. That song was in the right place at the right time. It got noticed and the rest is history. Had it not become the popular song that it did, there would be no ‘riff parade’. It’s actually more about the riff than the song.

    Cheers

  30. 30
    The Holy Chair says:

    ALZHEIMER PART 2 :

    Always thought that when SOTW was a hit it was early in the set that they played it.

  31. 31
    Tracy Heyder (aka Zero the Hero) says:

    Yes Chair, way early on it was placed in the middle of the set. Soon after, it became the last song or even the enchore….

    Cheers

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