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An Easy Victory for Purple in the Battle of the Bands

Deep Purple live at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre (Maryland Heights, USA 2017-09-08)

Deep Purple’s performance last night in St. Louis was by far the best of the four Purple shows I’ve seen in recent years, and by any standards superb; if it’s the last time I ever see them live, then I’m happy. Having read earlier reviews, I was a little worried that I would be so impressed by Alice Cooper’s show that Purple’s would seem mediocre by comparison. The Alice Cooper show was undoubtedly an extraordinary spectacle, including a beheading illusion, a huge Frankenstein’s monster, enormous balloons thrown into the crowd, and many explosions. The four guitarists kept charging back and forth across the stage and then striking manic rock star poses; it was a wonder there were no collisions. So Alice was fun, but musically there wasn’t much there, at least for people who couldn’t replay the songs in their heads (which the fans who had a great time presumably could).

But it was clear almost immediately Purple started that they were simply in a different class. I actually loved that they played so many songs from Machine Head (HS, L, SOTW, ST, POH) because they did it so damned well. It brought back memories of the first time I heard those songs, so many decades ago, and the thrill I felt then. The sound was excellent: you could really hear the pitches, each instrument sounded right, and no instrument was too high or too low in the mix. The band was tight and energized, and, as it has always done at its best, combined immense raw power with a speed, grace, and agility that put the earlier acts to shame. The guys also excelled individually. Paicey’s drumming was brilliant—as energetic as anything that came before but married to finesse and excellent taste. Don was dazzling, working some Gershwin into his big solo, and including some synthesizer work that made me feel a bit sorry for Edgar Winter, who had played some synthesizer in the warm-up act. Steve made the classic riffs sound really heavy, but he made music out of them too; again a contrast with earlier in the evening. Highlights from the show for me were the start of Space Trucking, which was electrifying, Uncommon Man, which they rocked up a little, the dueling solos in Hush, and Time for Bedlam, which sounded just as massive as I had hoped it would; but really every song was excellent. I was pleased that Pictures of Home and Knocking At Your Backdoor made it into the set. Gillan was in pretty good voice, and he certainly didn’t let the side down. My only quibble is that Strange Kind of Woman wasn’t replaced by something else—Hip Boots, perhaps? Gillan’s high-speed story-telling is no substitute for the back and forth with the guitar of his younger days.

review by Andrew Melnyk

17 Comments to “An Easy Victory for Purple in the Battle of the Bands”:

  1. 1
    Adel says:

    No body likes to read a bad review about their favourite band. So it’s all great. Looks like Aice Cooper is running out of make up!!! The face of truth doesn’t need make up!!!

  2. 2
    stoffer says:

    I was there also and the Purps rocked the house!!! Edgar Winter was good, but too many solos for such a short time frame. Alice Cooper won the “Shock Rock” portion of the night, Schools Out totally kicked ass, they were very entertaining. Next came Deep Purple with a high speed attack that never let up. As with other shows the Cooper fans didn’t leave, they couldn’t, Purple went from one song to the next in furious fashion with no banter between hits. They were loud, CLEAR and tight, Gillan sounded great. The no encore thing didn’t bothers us at all, a few people around us were screaming for Woman from Tokyo, but the local rock station played that exact song while we were in the parking lot LOL. The Surprising never made this nights set (too bad) but Bedlam sounded awesome. If this is indeed my last time seeing them I’m ok with it..but you never know! Highlights were a really cool light and video show, of course Highway Star (never gets old), Pictures of Home, Bedlam and meeting up with our friend Tracy Heyder. Thanks to Deep Purple or as they say….”Goodnight, Take it Easy, We Love Ya… BYE BYE….

  3. 3
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    I just wish that Steve could play the guitar solo in KAYBD the way RB does it… Oh well…

  4. 4
    nupsi59 says:

    Nice review, thank you!

    After a well deserved holiday they start again in Europe (Scandinavia and UK)

    By the way, “Irma” hits Florida, where Steve lives. Does anybody have any information whether he/his family/his house is ok?

    Have a nice Day!

  5. 5
    stoffer says:

    the local “Stl. rock” station today scolded DP for not playing WFT and their very casual stage attire while the female dj couldn’t get over Edgar Winters shiny jacket LOL and rated the show as follows – Winter 5 stars…Cooper 4 stars and DP 3 stars (out of 5) also saying they looked old and seemed to rush songs??? and also 1 commented maybe they need Glenn Hughes back! this station has never played a Morse era tune and are still obviously stuck in the seventies IMO…. DP rocked and the crowd around us would back that up!!

  6. 6
    CP says:

    I didn’t see the show as one “better” than the other,but more of the “back in the day” vibe of having incongruent bands on the same bill . I just had fun and didn’t try to analyze it too deeply. I did leave with a feeling of seeing an era ending, which it is. In the forseeable future we won’t have Purple,Alice and Edgar any longer. As far as the setlist was concerned, I could have personally cared less if they ever played anything from MH ever again, and would rather listened to more recent material. As it is, they have to sell tickets, and I’m a small minority.But I was happy to just see the guys again.

  7. 7
    BreisHeim says:

    Andrew, thanks for the great review.
    Your thoughts about the two groups’ shows are just the same as mine.
    I saw them in Illinois on Wednesday night (Sept. 6) and I walked out of there at the end of the evening a very happy fan.
    I couldn’t have written a better review, and your words can easily have been for the show I saw.
    And yep, one or two more from Now What?! or inFinite sure would have made it perfect.
    Yay! Deep Purple!!

  8. 8
    Rick Groves says:

    I was at this show as well. Bittersweet to know it was likely the last time I will see these guys. They were solid but honestly Steve’s wrist is causing some him some issues and if you listen and watch closely they’re fairly apparent. But the band seemed to be in good form overall and good spirits which was a concern based on a lot of the reviews. The Phoenix show in particular seemed to really get panned badly, but that is where Alice lives so he may have had a home field advantage there. Because of all of these reviews I was on the fence on whether to drop the cash on this show but it was worth every penny. Alice is Alice, his show was highly entertaining. Winter was decent, lots of solos and vamping for what was basically a 30 minute set. Purple held the crowd and they seemed to love it. I didn’t think Pictures of Home was on the set list for the US leg so hearing it was a nice surprise. The only Morse/Airey era songs being Uncommon Man (dedicated to “our beloved Jon Lord”) and Time for Bedlam. The jam during Hush was priceless and that’s when it hit me this is the last time I will see Morse, Airey, Lord and Paice just jamming. The show, as with the others, had no encore exactly, just played straight through. Smoke On the Water ended promptly at 10:59 PM. It has been a pleasure to follow this band for close to 50 years and when they’re gone it will certainly leave a void in the world of rock and roll. Cheers.

  9. 9
    Dpfender says:

    I wouldn’t say that there wasn’t much there for Alice, unless he didn’t play Halo Of Flies. Good to see they played Pictures Of Home, which may have replaced Fireball. Impressive that they’re making adjustments as they go and not just sticking to a specific setlist.

  10. 10
    Mike says:

    The truth is that Adel is the man

  11. 11
    max says:

    Nice one, thank you. Didn’t know Knocking at your back door is back in the set. And as far as I am concerned, they could drop Strange kind of woman … but I love the high speed story telling Ian does in that song now …it’s fun and it is different to anything anyone has ever done …

  12. 12
    Dpfender says:

    It appears that they replaced The Surprising with POH. I’m glad I got to see them play it in NM. Speaking of being surprised, I thought I knew the setlist when I saw them in Seattle a few years ago and they played the full version of The Mule.

  13. 13
    Chip says:

    Good to hear Gillan is sounding better. I wrote a review of the Bristow show where Ian was pretty rough. But the band was absolutely brilliant…and no amount of flash can top the brilliance of these guys…..

  14. 14
    MrPtheDPFan says:

    Pictures of Home ? Wow . Thought that one was long gone . I think you got lucky .

  15. 15
    DeeperPurps says:

    Stoffer @ 2, nice review! And great to hear that Tracy H. is still in PurpleLand. Hoping to read Tracy’s comments again in future posts. Cheers!

  16. 16
    mike whiteley says:

    How is Tracy doin’ ??
    “Zero The Hero” is missed ’round here.
    Sure hope all is well.

  17. 17
    stoffer says:

    mike @16 Tracy is doing great, we hung out with him and his his wife during intermission and he offered me 1 backstage pass which I unfortunately had to pass on. He said he was going to post a review when he got back home in a few days…He still looks great and is still very much the DP fan he always was!

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