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

Awesome set!

Having been a Deep Purple fanatic since I bought a used (vinyl album) copy of "Made In Japan" in high school, my heart skipped a beat when I saw on The Highway Star that the group was going to be at Riverbend. Finally!

The last time I saw Purple was in '85 at Cincinnati Gardens, the worst venue on Earth. It's a cavernous, dirty old building with lousy acoustics in a bad part of town. My pregnant girlfriend (and soon-to-be wife) were in the last row stage left, way up in the rafters with the pigeons. In spite of that, I remember a powerhouse performance. Some jerk-off threw a beer or something onstage so they didn't do a second encore and I was disappointed that Ritchie didn't smash his guitar.

At Riverbend, it was a much better experience. First off, my wife (not the same girl, a new one - I LIKE this one) and I had much better seats about 30 feet from the stage. After fighting our way through rush hour traffic, road construction orange barrels, an accident scene, a long line of cars all trying to get into the parking lot at the same time, and after having to explain to the two people who were in OUR seats the difference between 427 and 437, we got there during Ted "No Shit" Nugent's first song. He was cool. Really got the audience going. I recommend Ted to anyone who has never seen him.

THEN Purple came on. Awesome set! Everyone in the band was in great spirits and it was obvious to me that they really enjoy what they do for a living. Gillan's voice sounded strong and he bounced around the stage front (what little space there was: I noticed that the congas weren't even out of the travel case) constantly. Steve Morse looked right at home and I hope he's firmly in place for a long time as the DP guitarist. He ROCKED! I was hypnotized.

Listen: I'm a HUGE Blackmore fan but Steve deserves a lot of credit for what he's done to steer the band in a new direction. The last two albums have been outstanding. It's time to move on.

My main complaint, and I share it with most of the other reviewers, is that the set was too short. I noticed there were times that they seemed rushed to get to the next song after one finished. I believe, as I'm sure many fans do, that Lynyrd Skynyrd should have OPENED for Deep Purple!

Speaking of rednecks: The Skynyrd show was a good time. The Cincinnati crowd loved them. The whole "South shall rise again" motif has got to go! That's as ridiculous in the 21st century as Gillan announcing, "We're British and we want our colonies back." There was a guy a few rows up from me who had a "Legends of the Confederacy" shirt on. It made my skin crawl!

I hope that Purple can make a return visit soon, as the headliners they are. I have seen Skynyrd once and that's enough. Let them slither back in the swamp wrapped in the Rebel flag.

Come back soon and show the TriState what REAL rock-n-roll is! You did last Tuesday! Until then, keep making great music!

Ken Ballinger

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