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

That effortless Paicey swing

I last saw Deep Purple at the Hinckley, MN Casino in 1998. It was an outdoor show and sounded great. So, it had been three years and I was really excited to see them come through here again. The visits are far too infrequent.

On the bill this night was Ted Nugent, Deep Purple, and what's left of Lynyrd Skynyrd. We did not stay to see Lynyrd Skynyrd. Opening was a local guy from a band called Pork Chop(?) who came out, tried to play the acoustic guitar, and sang in that sort of affected southern rock style. It was terrible. He has a decent voice, but the guitar sound was awful and at times seemed out of tune, and there was an awful lot of fret buzz as his fingers did not quite seem to find the right places, and little touch to his playing.

Nugent came out, and was... well, Ted Nugent. No dynamics, just everything played at the volume of CRUSH. My wife, who knew none of his music, tired of this after about 10 minutes, so I thought it might be a long night. Nugent's band was tight, but there was a lot of posing and rock and roll posturing, especially with the drummer and the overly dramatic style, that seemed a bit over the top. The sacrificing of the guitar by shooting it with a flaming arrow was a bit much for me. As John Hiatt writes, "It breaks my heart to see those stars smashing a perfectly good guitar." Ted rocked out, as always, reminding us that we are in the land of 10,000 f*cking lakes and also reminded us we have the best f*cking Governer around. Don't get me wrong, Ted can wail, but geez...

Purple hit the stage next and it was great. Target Center does not have the best acoustics, and if you are sitting on the side like we were you can hear the sound from the stage and here it bounce off the back of the venue. The setlist was:

"Woman From Tokyo"
"Ted The Mechanic"
"No One Came"
"Pictures Of Home"
"Perfect Strangers"
"When A Blind Man Cries"
Steve's "Name That Tune" with a good performance of "You Really Got Me"
"Smoke On The Water"

Encore - "Highway Star"

All in all, way too short. No guitar, drum, or keyboard solo. It is a shame that they were not headlining or the main bill, as they seemed really constrained by the short 75 minute show length. But still, chances to see them in this country are very limited, especially up here in the Midwest.

Highlights for me were "No One Came", "Fools", and "When A Blind Man Cries". These were songs they did not play at Hinckley and it was good to hear them live. "Fools" especially was great. The keyboard guitar thing was wonderful, and dynamically it was very exciting.

Gillan's voice was great, screaming from the get go. It sounded clear and well rested, and at least this night, he has lost nothing over the years. I don't think, for me, there is a better rock and roll singer out there. Age does sweeten performance, because there is nothing like a singer with years of experience. In his mid fifties, Gillan is ten times any singer today in rock and roll. He looks good too, and seems to have lost some weight and seemed really energetic. Great conga playing too.

Morse was tight, and though not able to really break out as he could in a longer show, looks like he is having so much fun. He makes everything look so easy. In fact, what I love about this band that is so great is the fact that they really seem to love playing together, and they really seem to like each other. It comes out in the performance. Morse also makes the old catalogue his own. He brings his own unique interpretation to the songs, yet they still remain Purple songs. I love the fact that they are playing different things from the back catalogue that I am sure Blackmore would never have done. I don't mean to sound almost sacrilgious, but I am at the point of saying "Ritchie Who????" I loved Blackmore's playing, but I don't miss him. Morse is as much Deep Purple as Blackmore.

The rest of the band, Paice/Lord/Glover, were solid. I don't think there's a better drummer than Paice. It's effortless. After watching Nugent's drummer pound the snot out of his drums, it was nice so see someone like Paice really swing, and make it look effortless and achieve the same lever of dynamic. He's so smooth.

It's too bad that to crack the United States Purple has to be part of these package tours. They are not an oldies band, they are a band with a past that creates new music. I would love to see them headline and give us a full show unlimited by time constraints. I may just have to go to Europe for that! [You are very welcome! The band's over here in August, and you won't be only travelling over for this. Book your ticket now. Rasmus]

Great, great show!

Stephen Berg

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