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

Gillan got the hots for Texas

Set list in order as follows:
"Woman From Tokyo"
"Ted The Mechanic"
"Knocking At Your Back Door "
"No One Came"
"Perfect Strangers"
"When a Blind Man Cries"
Four to five minute long riff raff featuring - "Voodoo Child", "Baba O'Riley", a Led Zeppelin tune, "Crossroads", "You Really Got Me", "La Grange", "Strawberry Fields", "Secret Agent Man" and
"Smoke on the Water"

Encores: "Hush"
"Highway Star"

As the band came out, still daylight around 8:15 p.m., no one seemed to notice they were on stage until they started playing. Half the crowd of 21,000 was either still on the way in or in the concession area, cooling off from the 103 degree Texas heat. I think most people thought they were the road crew, technicians, etc... They were already on stage a good half minute waving and smiling and looking for cheers, crowd acknowledgement, any reaction. I was the first one to even stand up in my section and acknowledge their presence, waving and pumping my fists into the air. Ian Gillan and Steve Morse saw me, twenty rows back, smiled and waved at me and broke into the opening riffs of "Woman From Tokyo." At that point the crowd realized finally that wasn't the road crew but the legendary British rock band. The crowd began to clap and start dancing, subtle at first, it grew and got louder as darkness fell.

Lynyrd Skynyrd fans who weren't familiar with Deep Purple seemed impressed with them and showed enthusiasm as the set progressed. Drawing this type of reaction was very positive for Deep Purple since they are a different genre of classic rock with a different fan base.

I was certainly impressed with Lynryd Skynyrd. They have a very colorful and interesting group of fans and lead singer Johnny Van Zandt communicates very well to the audience, seeming like the typical "good ole' boy" gentleman from the South. And I've always liked guitarist Hughie Thomasson, going back to his days with the Outlaws.

The most frightening part of the show came after lead singer Ian Gillan's aggressive performance of, "No One Came." He suddenly froze for a few seconds, looking like he was ready to collapse, for a second putting his hand above his chest and walked away, towards drummer Ian Paice, whispering something in his ear and walked off stage for almost two minutes. People were looking around confused. Guitarist Steve Morse went to check on him and Gillan came back out, moving stiff like a robot towards the front of the stage to the first loud applause of the evening. The crowd was grateful he was OK. Gillan looked like he was about to make an announcement. I thought he was going to say there were technical problems or he wasn't feeling well. Instead the show continued on with the song, "Perfect Strangers". I had no idea what the ordeal was about but thought it had something to do with heat exhaustion, as I noticed the outdoor cooling system turn on, onstage.

The heat factor was a major concern of mine before the band came to town. Anyone playing four nights in a row in Oklahoma and Texas outdoors in July is very subject to exhaustion. Gillan did seem OK as time passed and sang in his traditional high pitch.

The sun set on the song, "When A Blind Man Cries" as the venue finally filled to capacity just in time to hear Steve Morse's classic rock guitar riffs followed by the top 25 classic rock song, "Smoke On The Water". As expected, the crowd was in a frenzy with everyone in sight standing. The noise level continued to grow with the encore performances and it was time for Deep Purple to get some rest and cool off.

Weaknesses were in the stage show and opening number. "Woman From Tokyo," although a good classic rock hit, couldn't match the intensity left by Ted Nugent from the previous set. Perhaps they would have been better off with a hard rocking song like, "Burn", "Into The Fire", "Maybe I'm A Leo", etc... Stage shows are always hard for an opening act band but I thought Deep Purple could have had a better stage arrangement, with Jon Lord more visible and better back drop.

All in all from what I have read and seen this has been a successful and too brief tour. I think Deep Purple benefited on this tour by NOT being an opening act because it pushed them to not be complacent, not playing in front of a majority of their fans. They've been a zone but it's now probably time for them to rest, hit Europe and get their creative energies into the studio, hopefully getting a CD high into the charts this next year. Thanks DP; Ian P, Ian G, Jon, Roger and Steve!

Alec Richards

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