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

I'll try not to make it another 16 year gap!

A friend of mine and myself received tickets to this show as birthday gifts (we have the same birthday) and I didn't know what to make of it. I have not attended any concerts by 'older' rock bands since the mid 1980s and really had no interest to relive old glories. I last saw Purple in 1984-85 during the "Perfect Strangers" our and all I remember was that I was glad to see the original lineup of such a classic band rocking Maple Leaf Gardens.

Fast forward 16 years. Ted Nugent is still... Ted Nugent. Unbelievable. Louder than hell and truly a parody of rock'n'roll. His flaming arrow 'buffalo sacrifice' bit was hilarious and if nothing else he was comical. I'll give Ted credit though - he's been at this for 30+ years and still has more energy than most guys half his age. But he hasn't grown up at all. 45 minutes was all I could take - another 30 seconds and I would have suffered permanent ear damage! On to Purple.

They hit the stage with "Woman From Tokyo" and the energy level was incredible. It's been 16 years so I was a little shocked at all the silver hair but if you closed your eyes, you wouldn't know it was 2001. Tunes like "Lazy," "Knocking At Your Back Door" and "Perfect Strangers" were ripped into with a managed fury that only a veteran band can pull off. Jon Lord isn't just a spectacular keyboardist - he IS the Purple sound. As long as he's around, Purple deserves a place on a stage anywhere. Steve Morse fit the guitarist slot perfectly and played all the tunes precisely. His rock'n'roll riff medley before "Smoke" is a great intro and could be extended by two or three minutes and not lose any excitement. The set list was identical to June 17th's. Encores were "Hush" and "Highway Star" - both performed with energy levels that could not have been higher during they band's heydays. I wish they could have played longer.

Lynyrd Skynyrd were the headliners and had the stage set to prove it, but this was a Purple crowd. Lots of dancing to the tunes. LS played much of their classics and were tight, but you got the impression they were just trying too hard to be a band who is missing too much of it's original lineup to be authentic.

As far as Deep Purple is concerned, I'll try not to make it another 16 year gap!

Pat Valente

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