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

Holy crap, I couldn't believe it!

June 15th was the first time ever I had the pleasure of seeing Deep Purple in concert and might I say that I was completely blown away! After some minor setbacks, me and my two school chums made it to the PNC Bank Arts Center at 5:30 and headed right for the merchandise stands. Not too much Deep Purple stuff. There was an "In Rock" shirt at $40, as well as current DP tour shirts for about $30. There was also the DP Bootlegged 1984-2000 box set, some DVDs, etc.

Anyway, after the acoustic stuff by Charlie Crystal(?) - who might I add was very good, Ted Nugent hit the stage at about 7:00 and did a great job in warming things up. But, since this was a Skynyrd crowd, the seats weren't really filled in for his performance. Ted had some funny things to say between songs, played very loud and fast, screamed a lot, and ultimately sacrificed his guitar! What the hell, I enjoyed it.

Ted finished at about 7:35 and after some preparation, the boys finally hit the stage at 8:00. The set list was as follows (not in order):

"Woman From Tokyo"
"Ted The Mechanic"
"Pictures Of Home"
"Knocking At Your Back Door" (Holy crap, I couldn't believe it!)
"Perfect Strangers"
"When A Blind Man Cries"
"Smoke On The Water"

"Highway Star"

Every song was played to perfection and I must confirm previous reports and say that Ian Gillan's voice is in great shape. Of course, nothing compared to the glory days, but he was able to make some screams that I haven't heard sound really crisp and energetic in a long, long time. Could this be the result of vocal training or losing the weight?

Though every song was perfect, the real highlight for the entire set was "Fools". The atmosphere, guitar solo, and spooky intro really were fantastic. Even the two guys I brought along with me were amazed by that song. And something else to note is that they actually played "Knocking At Your Back Door." At first, Ian goofed at told us that it was going to be "When A Blind Man Cries", but then changed his mind and announced "Knocking" as the next song. It was a real treat to hear and everyone was in top form.

Of course, the only time the crowd actually stood to their feet was for "Smoke On The Water." At that time, everyone was really getting into it, including me. Afterwards, everyone was cheering extremely loud for the band to come back for the encore. And for the remainder of "Hush" and "Highway Star" everybody stood. It was almost as if they accepted and really appreciated DP after hearing the sheer energy and loudness of their performance.

And I can honestly say, without being biased, that Deep Purple was the best of all three. Skynyrd were great as well, but they did not maintain the intensity that Deep Purple did. Everyone stood up for all of Skynyrd's songs, which I didn't undestand. It's not that ballads are bad or anything, but Skynyrd couldn't hold a flame to what Deep Purple had accomplished with their set list. DP were just fantastic, energetic, emotional, and loud consistently. Skynyrd were not.

I can honestly say that out of all the concerts I've been to, this one had to be the best. All of the acts combined made this a 10/10 show, but DP were the best.

Scott Williams

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