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

Rod Laver Arena Melbourne Australia 9 March 2001

Australians are used to waiting a long time between Deep Purple tours (eg 1984 to 1999!), so I guess we were all pleasantly surprised when the 2001 tour was announced. Good one, guys!

Anyway, Friday night at Rod Laver Arena in 2001 was a little different to 1999, I think. From an audience member perspective, in 1999 no one were quite sure what to expect, and I think the crowd was a little hesitant at first. However, the 1999 tour was such a great success, and together with the wide exposure of the resulting video/DVD, in 2001 the crowd was jumping out of their skins - we couldn't wait!

Deep Purple strode out on cue, and launched straight into "Woman From Tokyo". The set list was totally different from 1999, and we got to see and hear some old stuff, newer stuff, and rarely heard stuff. I do not garantee the full accuracy of this list, nor the song order, but here is my best guess!

"Woman From Tokyo"
"Ted The Mechanic"
"Mary Long" (yup, you heard right!)
"Black Night"
"Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming"
"Smoke on the Water"
"No One Came" (another oldie!)
"When A Blind Man Cries"
"Fools" (yet another old classic!)
"Hey Cisco"
"Perfect Strangers"
"Speed King"
"Hush" (the oldest!)
"Highway Star"

The band seemed to be having a ball. Ian Gillan in particular appeared very relaxed and talkative (a lot more so than in 1999), and he spun some good yarns between songs. He also had some interesting 'interchanges' with Steve Morse during the songs! Interestingly, Deep Purple was augmented by a small brass section and three very attractive back-up singers for many of the songs, and this seemed to work very well.

Roger Glover was ever was rock solid. Ian Paice's drum solo was reasonably short, but a real highlight. Jon Lord was in fine form, and to my mind we got to hear more from him than in 1999. Steve Morse was brilliant - enough said.

On a more serious note, Deep Purple attended the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix the previous weekend, and performed a couple of songs. On the day of the race, there was an accident in which one of the Australian track marshalls Graham Beveridge was killed. Ian Gillan gave a very nice 'speech' about this sad event, and then proceeded to dedicate the performance of "Highway Star" to Graham Beveridge - a very nice touch which was warmly appreciated by Melbourne.

As part of his farewell thank-you, Ian Gillan mentioned that the "Total Abandon" 1999 DVD (concert filmed at Rod Laver Arena) was the first ever DVD to go platinum, and that Deep Purple were quite proud of this. Well, Mr Gillan, Melbourne DP fans are very proud to have been a part of that.

Thank you for the 2001 visit, and we hope the rest of tour goes well. Come back again soon, you know you'll be welcome!

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