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

The tour winds down

Unlike many DPers I only get to see the guys every few years - the Black Sabbath "Born Again" tour (w/Ian fronting); Cincinnati May '87 ("HOBL" tour); Mannheim Oct '93 ("TBRO" tour - on the trip from Kaiserslautern a drunk hit-and-run German sideswiped my Passat). I was starting to think the German show would be my last opportunity, so I was glad to hear the band was at the new Verizon, a mere five minutes from my home.

Don't know the attendance but I'd guess about 10-12,000 people. I seemed to be the only one there with a "Highway Star" shirt. Clearly a Skynyrd crowd. Lots of young kids kept this from being a "Geezer-palooza" show. Missed the opening acts, but arrived just in time for...???

Cheap Trick - Fun set ran just under an hour, with the hits (minus "The Flame", which is just as well?) plus some deeper cuts ("Southern Girls", "Voices"). They also threw in "In the Street", their theme for "That 70s Show". Strange that after all these years, Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos are now the NORMAL looking ones in the band!

Nugent - Fine set marred by crummy sound. At times Ted sounded like he was singing with a wax paper-covered comb in front of his mike while soloing on a kazoo. Nugent's battle cry (one of many) is, "If it's too loud you're too old!" Sorry, Ted, but there's a big difference between "loud" and "distorted". Since all acts ran through the same PA, and everyone else but Ted's trio sounded great (powerful but clean), I can only conclude the effect was intentional. Otherwise the crowd loved him, even when he lambasted the drunks and the beach ball hurlers.

Now the main event (for our group of three, at least). Dittos to all the others' comments about the band having a great time on stage while putting everything they had into the show. To me the biggest surprise was Big Ian's voice. He's always been powerful, but the years had been taking their toll and I figured he'd never hit those high notes again. Tonight he sounded 25 years younger - amazing! Meanwhile, just hearing the full version of "Woman From Tokyo" almost justified the price of admission. One pinhead a few rows back kept yelling "Nugent!" and "Skynyrd!" after each song, but I suspect he was just trying to piss off his date who was clearly a Purple fan. [Obviously a great relationship! Rasmus]

As mesmerized as I was by "Fools" and "No One Came", the casual concert-goers were losing interest. Many headed out to the concession stands, but started streaming back in when Steve and the boys (minus Jon) turned DP into the world's meanest cover band, starting with a stunning "Voodoo Chile", then paying homage to Mountain, ZZ Top, Led Zep and more. Around this time it finally got dark enough for the video screens to be useful. Steve then soloed through a few more classic riffs (with the crowd roaring on every note), then into "SOTW" (with everyone singing along, of course). Then the encore - "Hush" and "Highway Star". By now they owned the venue. There were a few Skynyrd faithful that tried their best to stay aloof, but 99.7% of the throng were gripped by a classic case of mass Purple mania. MASSIVE ovation when it was all over.

Skynyrd - The band was tight and professional, giving the crowd what they expected (vs. Purple who gave them much more!). I enjoyed the first 20 minutes or so, but had to take off for other commitments. I joined a steady stream of folks meandering to the parking lot.

Whine and "Jeez!" Dept: On the way out I stopped at one of the booths and picked up an autographed copy of Nuge's book, a DP "Concerto" program, and DVDs of "Total Abandon" and "Bombay Calling". This led to the only sour note of the night - discovering (too late) that the "Bombay" DVD was in PAL format! Why the heck were they selling PAL DVDs in south Texas? Uh, guys, we use NTSC in the States! This wasn't some weenie selling stuff from his car in the parking lot - this was at the official booth. I don't own a multi-system DVD player or TV. Is there someplace I can send this (it's unopened) to exchange it for the NTSC version? End of rant. Great show, great tour!

Russ Davis

[ reviews | the highway star ]