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

I wish it had lasted a lot, lot longer...

Just a quick review of last night's concert in Scranton.

We arrived a little late because of rush-hour traffic so I only saw the last part of Ted Nugent. He seemed to be making a lot of noise but beyond that, there wasn't much to write home about. The arena at Scranton is outdoors with the main section covered in a kind of permanent tent structure. The back is an open field (which was not a good place to be during Purple since it started raining pretty hard) so it's not exactly a great venue. Given the pretty poor acoustics and the lack of character to the place, Purple's amazing performance was even more impressive!

Anyway, Purple came on at exactly 8pm with a great version of "Woman From Tokyo". A lot of reviewers from other shows have noted that the set list is filled with recognizable tracks with a dearth of the most recent material. It was pretty clear that the band knew that the bulk of the audience were there to see Lynyrd Skynyrd and so might not be that familiar with Deep Purple. They definitely seemed to be trying to win them over by playing songs that might just be recognizable. So, it made for an interesting show - no weak songs really and the solos kept to a minimum. I definitely enjoyed it because it was so tight and so well put together but I'd also like to see them play again with more songs and long solos!!

They then went into "Ted The Mechanic" and quickly into a great version of "Lazy". Now, that's always been my favorite Purple song so it was the highlight of the show for me. I just wish Jon could have played a little longer in the intro but the band rocked through it. "No One Came" and "Fools" followed which were fine but probably the weakest part of the set. They then picked things up with a great version of "Pictures Of Home" before going into "Perfect Strangers". That got the crowd going again as I think it was the first recognizable song in a while for a lot of them! "When A Blind Man Cries" was probably the best I've ever heard it - Ian was spectacular, he can still sing that song - and I enjoyed it more because he seemed more in control of it and so it was more expressive somehow. I went with a friend who didn't know much about Purple and he was stunned by it - couldn't stop talking about how great a song it was on the whole way back! Steve's intro to "Smoke On The Water" definitely appealed to the US audience and finally the audience all got on their feet for the song itself. I guess everyone recognized it and the place truly rocked from then on. The encore of "Hush" and "Highway Star" was absolutely spectacular as the whole audience got into it and the atmosphere was amazing. I have to say that by the end Purple seemed to have completely won over the crowd with such a good set.

We also left right after Purple so I have no idea what Skynyrd were like but they were certainly set up well by such a great set from the maestros! All in all, it was a fantastic evening and I'm pleased that those of us on this side of the Atlantic actually had a chance to see the band one more time. Here's a plea for them to do a few more dates (NY or Philadelphia?) as headliners, perhaps in a smaller place but they are playing so well right now that I would just like to see them play for two hours instead of just one. I agree with everyone else who said that the band do seem truly happy up there and it shows in the music. Steve has done amazing job of fitting in - he plays the old classics in a way that is true to their roots but gives a new spin that has breathed life into them. The rest are amazing as ever - a great evening that I just wished could have lasted a lot, lot longer....

Alex Curtis

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