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Space-truckin’ on a black night

An in-depth and well written review of the Deep Purple gig in Bengaluru, India, on December 17, 2023.

Three days after British rockers Deep Purple enchanted the crowd at the Bandland rock festival in Bengaluru, the gooseflesh lingers like the whiff of cologne. For many, they have been college heroes, cocktail companions, the kings of melodic power, the epitome of hard rock. Older-generation fans or youngsters, they knew many of these songs by heart. Every word, every instrumental passage, every back-up vocal line. Na na na na na, Na na na, Hush, Hush.

It was the band’s fifth tour of India. Vocalist Ian Gillan was 49 when they first played in April 1995. The Mumbai concert can be seen on YouTube and heard on the streaming platforms. The frontman was 56 when they played in May 2002. On the current gig, he had gracefully turned 78, his hair a long silvery delight, his shirt glistening in the blue light. The question was: Could he still hit those trademark high notes? Could he do the ‘Child In Time’ banshee-screech effortlessly? Could he bounce around like a young puppy, as he had told this writer 21 years ago?

Obviously he couldn’t. ‘Child In Time’ wasn’t on the set list, and the puppy bounce had made way for a languid soft-shoe shuffle. Yet, maturity and experience can lead to wisdom and discretion. If he didn’t get the screams of the opening song ‘Highway Star’ the way we’re accustomed to, he more than made up with the golden rule of staying totally in tune and managing one’s range. The middle register was immaculate, impeccable. His hand shook while holding the mic on the brilliant ‘When A Blind Man Cries’, but his voice didn’t waver. His singing on ‘Anya’ was a museum model of magnificence. For those hearing him for the first time, it was a dream come true. A story to be shared years later with grandchildren. “I saw Ian Gillan in the flesh”. “You’re serious, grandpa?”

Continue reading in narenmusic reviews.

Thanks to Amit for the heads-up.

22 Comments to “Space-truckin’ on a black night”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I’m happy for them to have gone down well, but that set list is getting a little long in the tooth. Maybe they don’t have to do six songs off the Machine Head sessions, but just three?

    Well, at least it all was new to Little Adam! While I do miss his dad’s inimitable sartorial grace (—> legendary glitzy cape),


    he has a nice flowing piano style (less edgy/angular than Don’s), quotes Don’s iconic Mr Crowley intro (a nice touch) and generally holds himself up very well:


    (They probably kept his number. One would think.)

  2. 2
    Gregster says:


    Now that was a great & respectful review imo.

    Re IG qt.” Yet, maturity and experience can lead to wisdom and discretion…For those hearing him for the first time, it was a dream come true. A story to be shared years later with grandchildren. “I saw Ian Gillan in the flesh”. “You’re serious, grandpa?””…

    Say it all ! Well done boys !

    Peace !

  3. 3
    Jean-Christophe says:

    That’s a nice piece of writing. Thanks.

  4. 4
    MacGregor says:

    Yes indeed I picked up on Adam’s old man keyboard solo bits & Mr Crowley also the other day. I wonder how many in the audience knew any of that music? A nice ode there to Rick & Don. Such iconic keyboard music in the classic rock genre. It gave the opening intro to Perfect Strangers an extra buzz & why not, especially if it is a one off performance from Adam Wakeman. Cheers.

  5. 5
    MacGregor says:

    All the best for the festive season & New Year to all here at THS. Especially the good people running this site who have to put up with me & a few others, he he he. All the hard work maintaining this site enabling some of us critical yet dedicated aficionados of all things Purple & also other colours to waffle on & on & on……………… Cheers.

  6. 6
    Gregster says:


    Also worth celebrating & remembering is the passing of Leslie West on this day 3-years ago for that big gig in the sky…Long may the music live-on, & let it be played loudly ! So dig-out your Mountain or West Bruce & Laing collection & give them another spin, & remember what real thunder was all about, once upon a time.

    Peace !

  7. 7
    stoffer says:

    I’m glad they were so well received in India! The young Wakeman looked at home and sounds darn good!
    Seriously tho it is time to freshen up the setlist A LOT….

  8. 8
    Mike Nagoda says:

    Been watching videos from this gig and LOVING it – some of that danger has finally crept back in! I really REALLY dug what Adam was doing – I think I might even prefer it to Don these days, as it was more improvisatory in nature – and Simon has FINALLY come into his own!!

    Ian G was having trouble hitting his upper mid register and straining for the higher notes in melodies, but for the most part he was in tune and sang very well. Maybe it’s time to downtune the guitars a whole step to accommodate his voice at his age? Overall, this was a fantastic gig – I hope Don takes note and will start exploring and improvising more on stage – maybe Simon will coax it out of him! Great gig guys!

  9. 9
    max says:

    @ 5. Word!

    All the best to everyone at THS!

    And yes, the setlist does need some attention. I begin to feel afraid already they’ ll end the show I will atttend in summer with Hush and Black Night again…

  10. 10
    Peter J says:

    I agree with some of you, that set list will be 3 years old in 2024, I hope they’ll change it for the next tour.

    I’d keep the classics and Blindman Cries of course but I guess they’ll give us some songs from the new album and a surprise or two (Fools would be fantastic, or Never Before, Wasted Sunsets, I’m Alone, Things I never said, Battle.. ).

    I thought Wakeman was struggling a lot, played with incorrect timings etc but with a short notice, perfectly understandable. In those situations you can see the incredible technique of Airey… even though Adam has some, of course.

  11. 11
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Young Adam just didn’t dominate like Don does. But I’ve seen it the other way around too, when I saw Don deputizing for Phil Lanzon a few years back, Uriah Heep all of the sudden sounded a lot less keyboard-heavy and mighty (with Heep, the keyboards are live even more massive than with Purple, Mick Box is essentially a rhythm guitarist). Sometimes he’d play something and it sounded decidedly Don Airey’ish, turning the heads of Mick Box & Co. with broad smiles.

    With keyboard heavy bands like Purple and Heep where the instrument takes a lead position, a change of keyboard personnel is always heard. It’s not like when, say, the Eagles change their touring keyboard player and you don’t really notice.

  12. 12
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Is this our devoted Christmas thread then? Ok, three Christmas songs featuring Jon Lord on keyboards by Norwegian singer Maria Arredondo


    from her 2005 album ‘Min Jul’, he also did the arrangements:




    Anybody remember Angel, the Yank outfit consisting of “five people all exactly dressed like Freddie Mercury” (as Bill Nelson of Be Bop Deluxe acerbically deadpanned!), they were glowing DP Mk I fans and resurrected Derek Lawrence to produce their first two albums (how is that for a tenuous DP connection?), later on they recorded a Christmas song which I herewith will share with you alongside a hearty “Frohe Weihnachten!”:


    Returning to Jon and his lifelong affliction/affection for Scandinavian women, how could we forget this here?


    Only performed once for German TV in 2004, it has criminally never seen a release on CD. (When, I cry, does finally someone ask me to curate all of Jon’s solo work for a boxed set?)

    PS: Fast forward to 10:25 if you ever wondered how Jon might sound singing a German Christmas song (‘O du fröhliche’). (Frida, btw, had a German father, her dad was a German occupation forces soldier in Norway in WWII, her mother Norwegian; come 1945, her mother emigrated to Sweden – Norway was then no place for a single mom to be if she had been romantically involved with a German occupier.)

  13. 13
    Daniel says:

    Can someone kindly point me in the direction of some clips where Wakeman sounds different to Airey? My impression was the opposite. That it was hard to tell the difference between the two, possibly a combination of Wakeman playing Airey’s rig and a lack of musical identity on both parts, given their background as session players.

  14. 14
    Uwe Hornung says:

    It’s not so much WHAT they play within the confines of old Mk II arrangements, but HOW they do it.

    Don is a great keyboard player, but his phrasing and rhythmic accentuation is edgier, crisper/harsher, more technical than Jon, he reminds me more of Keith Emerson in style than of Jon or Adam’s dad. When he initially joined DP, I found that grated a little with their rolling groove, but over time it gelled and he also became more fluid, no doubt due to the extensive soloing his new role with Purple brought with it. Listen here for what I think sums up his style pretty well:


    Adam is a lot smoother and gentler round the edges (as Jon was, he even “smeared” notes a little, had a tendency to play behind the beat).


    And not as ornamental as his old man either! Wakeman Senior has a tendency to over-embellish to the point of giving me light headaches …


  15. 15
    MacGregor says:

    Just found this good interview with Adam Wakeman regarding the Jazz Sabbath project. Cheers.


  16. 16
    Daniel says:

    These are links to their work outside Purple. I meant links to the Indian gig highlighting the difference in style between Wakeman and Airey.

  17. 17
    Uwe Hornung says:

    You already hear in the opener Highway Star that Adam is smoother than Don, but not as forceful and to the point. Don is more angular in his playing, Adam is softer round the edges, but doesn’t stand out as much. That has nothing to do with one keyboarder being better than the other, just different approaches in playing.

    My first thought when hearing Adam was “oh, he’s closer to Jon than Don”. That said, through the eras of Mk VIII and now Mk IX, Don has meanwhile shaped his own sonic place within the Purple wall of sound, he’s a very vital part of how Purple sounds today, more dominant than Jon was except in the very early days of Mk II. Jon was always present, but often working behind the scenes to make the line-ups MK I-VII sound like they did: Purple’s Keith Richards of Hammond organ.

  18. 18
    MacGregor says:

    Rick Wakeman’s solo piano & even his post 80’s & onwards ‘rock’ releases are very repetitive & same-ish & yes there is plenty of noodling there on the piano. Too much like a practice warm up session for me, I made that mistake about 20 years ago buying a piano music cd. Not to worry his early to mid 70’s classical & rock projects are grand & with Yes he definitely didn’t leave us with anything too boring & repetitive. I think that has crept in in later years of semi retirement. A laid back piano bar approach to things. At least Rick isn’t into jazz so much & the same with Jon Lord. Keith Emerson is a jazz guy in many ways & it is too much at times. All that jazz piano is a tad boring to me, always has been no matter who is playing it. And don’t start me on the Sax & Trumpet. I probably shouldn’t have said that & I should make that my new years resolution ‘don’t encourage anyone to highlight my musical snobbery’ for want of a better description. Cheers.

  19. 19
    MacGregor says:

    A few other things I have noticed regarding the ‘different’ Wakeman’s is Oliver being not as jazz influenced, more classical & symphonic like his dad & he did end up in ‘Yes’ for a reason. Well at least I haven’t heard anything jazzy however I don’t follow either of Rick’s sons music that much, just a little here & there. Adam also dabbles in guitar playing so he is more ‘versatile’ in that regard for other projects. Oliver keeps the Rick aspect alive & kicking, Thanks to them both for being two chips off the old block. Adam helps out playing live with Rick at times from what I have noticed in recent years. There would be differences in many aspects to their playing as it should be & having said that I do wonder what Oliver would sound like in DP. Anyway we cannot let the Wakeman’s take over the world, Rick has been a handful in attempting to do that at times hasn’t he? Cheers.

  20. 20
    Uwe Hornung says:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve read that an account nominated by people representing Rod is back to receiving those Mk I royalties since the Millennium again. In the 1980/81 settlement he did not have to forfeit them forever but only for a period of 20 years or so. So he or his beneficiaries are making money off Purple again (unlike Nick who gave up all future royalties for good in his settlement in 1969/70 because he preferred cash and parts of DP’s then PA system to use for Warhorse), in 1980 it was supposedly a sum of approx GBP 25.000 or so per year – not a fortune, but something to improve your pension with.

    Let’s not forget that the Purple samplers with also Mk I material sell because of the Mk II stuff on them. And Mk I only samplers like the Warner Bros Purple Passages double album of 1972 only saw a release in the verge of MK II’s success (WB bought the rights from defunct Tetragrammaton to release the material anew).

    I think it’s fair to say that Rod got a reasonable deal out of his comparatively short tenure (little more than 12 months!) with Purple, no need to complain. And the damages awarded against him after the Deep Bogus affair were moderate, even insignificantly low by the standards of what US courts tend to shell out in other damage cases.

  21. 21
    Scott says:

    So where was Don Airey??

  22. 22
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Let’s just hope it’s nothing serious and has meanwhile been taken care of.

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