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Amazingly Good

Deep Purple live at Festival Park (Elgin, USA 2014-08-20)

Drove six hours with my son to see Purple in Elgin, Illinois. We saw them in ’11 in Minneapolis but the show was pretty disappointing, mainly but not only because of the sound. Last night, however, the show was truly superb. Not only was the sound clear and the balance right, but the band played with a level of commitment and energy that frankly I didn’t think they were still capable of. It was just electrifying. Of course, it helped that the crowd (pretty old, it has to be said, but so what?) was loving it, singing along unbidden and on their feet throughout. But all the instrumentalists were in brilliant form. Steve, in particular, was terrific, and carried himself more like the guitar god that he is. I didn’t miss Ritchie last night.

A surprisingly small amount of time was taken up with singing. Maybe it was just last night’s show, but I suspect the band is starting to bow to the inevitable effects of time on Gillan’s voice. He did what he set out to do very well, but his role in the show was smaller than it has been in the past: he did less singing, and the vocals were down in the mix. Of course, it all worked magnificently, because the instrumentalists were so damned good. But when the very sad day finally comes when Ian has to call it quits, I hope the band considers carrying on as a purely instrumental group rather than trying to find a replacement singer. Unorthodox, obviously, but they could make it work.

The set list was MIJ minus “Child in Time”, plus “Perfect Strangers”, “Contact Lost”, “Hush”, and three of the new songs: “Vincent Price”, “Uncommon Man”, and “Hell To Pay”. So a lot of the golden oldies. But here’s the thing: yes, I would’ve loved to hear live versions of any number of Morse-era songs, but they did the oldies so damned well it didn’t matter. They cleverly steered a very tricky path, sometimes unashamedly performing the classic licks and fills from MIJ, yes, but also introducing enough innovation to make it clear that they are their own band–that there really is a living, breathing Deep Purple, as Ian put it recently. There is, and last night, on a lawn in a Chicago suburb, it breathed fire.

review by Andrew Melnyk



Comment to “Amazingly Good”:

  1. 1
    Scott says:

    Just saw Purple last in Orillia Ontario at Casino Rama.
    Un-Frickin-Believable. They blew the roof off of the place. This show was better than the last two Purple shows I saw. I saw them also at casino Rama with the orchestra in June 2011, Then again without the orchestra at Hamilton Place In Feb 2012. The only disappointment was they didn’t play Above and Beyond and there was no tribute to Jon Lord like they did during the European shows.

    Other than that they absolutely Killed it.

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