[ d e e p P u r . p l e ) The Highway Star

Tour Review: Deep Purple World Tour 2000 in Athens, Greece, April 13th, 2000

The DP concert was very much anticipated by the Greek public, since they are very popular around here and they haven't performed live in Greece with the classic MkII or the current line-up (in fact the only time they ever played live here before was in '91 with JLT in vocals and the show was a bit dissapointing).

So the show was sold out some 3-4 weeks before and when I arrived at 9:25 (due to the famous Athens traffic), only 5 min before the official start of the concert, the place was packed by 12,000 people. The venue itself wasn't a very wise choice: It is an indoor hall under the Olympic Stadion of Athens (where the Olympics are to be held in four years) basically intended for conventions and exhibitions. So the air-condition wasn't by far capable of providing fresh air for 12,000 steaming fans. And the acoustics of the hall were dreadfull IMO. But anyway, that din't destroy our mood to watch DP live at last!

At 9:45 the lights went out and the group, without any special FX, lasers or anything like that, went on stage and started with a fantastic "Woman From Tokyo".

The full setlist: (not so sure about the exact order)

Woman From Tokyo
Into The Fire
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
intro (incl. Back In Black, Stairway To Heaven, You Really Got Me, etc) to...
Smoke On The Water
Watching The Sky
Steve's solo
Any Fule Kno That
Black Night
Perfect Strangers
When A Blind Man Cries
Speed King (incl. guitar/organ interplay, bass & drums solo and Great Balls Of Fire)
Space Truckin'

Highway Star

So, what can I say about the show? Well, the first thing is that they play with such power and energy that they don't sound like the middleaged dudes they are, but like some crazy teenagers playing pure, electrifying hard rock, even Heavy Metal at some times. If I had to pick something or someone that stands out of the whole performance, then it would have to be little Ian's drums and Steve's guitar.

Paicey just hits anything that happens to be in front of him with such power and rhythm reminding everybody who's the ultimate master of the drum kit alive. The guy is absolutely amazing. And what about Steve? For those who didn't have the chance to see him live it was a true revelation. Let me point out here, that Ritchie is considered a God over here. But despite that, Steve made everybody forget that RB isn't in the band anymore. He chooses not to play the classic songs and solos note by note, but tries to add his own style to them. The songs may sound a bit different, but IMO they seem fresher. The jazzy licks he does with his guitar all the time just blew me and -I think- the rest of the crowd away. But above all that, he's constantly smiling, teasing the fans, talking and greeting the other members of the group and simply having a good time.

And the others? Big Ian is in top form and, obviously, having the time of his life. He sung beatifully and I really think that there won't be any true Purple line-up without him. He defines the DP sound and his voice seems untouched by the years. Unfortunately though, the vocals were mixed too low I think and got a bit lost within the power playing of the rest of the group.

Jon is, as we all know, a true noble guy, playing the Hammond - which was granted to him by some local fan btw - in his own unigue style, adding so much to the familiar Purple sound. His little intros to songs like "Perfect Strangers" and "When A Blind Man Cries" give him the chance to show his musical genious and broad horizons. And Roger is playing as solid and powerful as ever and gives at times the impression that he is the mastermind of the group, who tries to coordinate everybody else.

The highlights of the show were IMO: "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" (in which Steve is making some amazing things on the guitar), "Fools" (I knew they were playing it on this tour, but to hear it live was a fantastic experience), the intro to "Smoke" and "Smoke" itself (where, as you imagine, the whole hall was jumping and singing the words along), "Black Night" (with the crowd singing the riff all the time together with the band), "Perfect Strangers" (Steve sticks close to the original on this one and does it perfectly), "Space Truckin'" (another surprise, didn't expect to hear it on this tour), "Lazy" (one of my personal favorites, fantastic interpaly by Jon and Steve) and, of course, "Highway Star" (where the crowd went mad, sung along all the words and the guitar solo, which btw was fantastic - Steve passed the crash test of the guitar with flying colors...).

So that's it. It was a night I dreamed of all of my life and "I know we'll never forget". I just hope that they come around this part of the planet again in some of the next tours and that this time they play in a more descent venue.


Spiros Papageorgiou

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