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

Texan DP Bonanza

On Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8th, 2001, I got to see my fifth and sixth Deep Purple shows. The first was at Reunion Arena in Dallas in 1985. The second was the "Purple Sunshine" pre-"Purpendicular" show in Fort Lauderdale in 1995. Then I caught the two House of Blues shows in New Orleans in December of 1997. Finally this past weekend I got to attend the last two shows on the Ted Nugent-Deep Purple-Lynyrd Skynyrd tour. The July 7th show was in San Antonio and the July 8th show was right here in Houston, Texas (first time I haven't had to travel to see them).

Both of these shows were festivals. The South Texas Jam in San Antonio added Cheap trick before the regular line up and the Arrowfest, hosted by The Arrow 93.7 FM, Featured Nazareth as the first name band as well. Nazareth was good but Cheap Trick was particularly impressive, I really enjoyed their set.

I was fortunate enough to meet the Deep Purple at the Fort Lauderdale and New Orleans shows and can echo the comments of others who've met them. These are just some of the nicest people you can meet. Although I didn't have any special access this time, it was like seeing old friends when they came out on stage, all smiles, radiating energy and enthusiasm.

What was really special this time was that my wife attended the Houston show and finally got to see what I've been raving about since the day we met a live Deep Purple concert. She's heard the live CDs, seen some of the videos but there's nothing like being there. She really got into most of the tunes and was dancing madly to "Hush."

I swear they get better every time I see them. Yeah, I'd have loved to have had a longer set and I'd have loved to hear more of the Morse era tunes but, these guys delivered. Nothing against them, I like Skynyrd, but I don't know how those guys could follow an act like that. Nuclear weapons seem positively wimpy next to the show Purple puts on. I have to confess, I skipped out on Skynyrd both nights (and I do like Skynyrd). The first night I just wanted to drive back to Houston and save a hotel bill. But after seeing the first show I just thought, anything after that will be a disappointment (to me, anyway) and why wait and get stuck in the traffic later.

By some strange coincidence I had almost identical seats both nights about twenty feet back from the stage, just a hair to the right of the PA stacks on the right side (as I faced it) of the stage. (If anyone from the band reads this, I was the guy in the black DP shirt, with the short hair, who stood for the entire show.) The volume was so high I wore shooting range ear protectors during the opening acts. Ted was so loud and distorted I moved back the first night and my wife and I went outside after the first few songs. When Purple came on however, the sound was LOUD but crystal clear and well balanced. Beautiful!

The set list was the same for both nights, pretty standard for this tour:

1. "Woman From Tokyo"
2. "Ted the Mechanic"
3. "Lazy"
4. "Knocking At Your Back Door"
5. "Fools"
6. "No One Came"
7. "Perfect Strangers"
8. "When a Blind Man Cries"
9. "Smoke On The Water"
10. "Hush"
11. "Highway Star"

This tour has been well documented already so I won't go into excruciating detail but thought I'd capture a few things I noticed during the show.

"Lazy" - just as Gillan was beginning to sing during the Houston show, he blurted out, "Can I see that again? Excuse me. Can I see them again please? Thank You." while gesturing to someone in the front of the crowd. He then segued right into the harmonica solo without missing a beat (with that smile on his face). I surmised that a girl must have been flashing her top. This seemed confirmed when at the end of the song he added, "Thank you, you're wonderful!" to the audience and then, "And thank you both. Superb."

[ Steve Steele also noticed something: "Regarding this topic, I was standing very near the woman in question. Let me just reassure all that she was an extremely beautiful blonde with a great body and HUGE breasts! Certainly worthy of Ian's attention to interrupt the lyrics of "Lazy" in front of 15,000 people and make her lift her top up. It was a very funny moment because Ian was very loud and demanding about it." Rasmus]

"KAYBD" - got a great reaction at both shows when Jon hit the opening notes. Great performance. The only thing I noticed was that they cut out the second guitar solo. The transition to the outro actually felt a bit abrupt to me. Too bad, I really liked the way the second solo had evolved from the original slide solo to Ritchie's new take (see the video of "Come Hell Or High Water") to Satriani's take on it (Wow! "Flying In A Purple Dream") and Morse's version ("Purple Sunshine"). Great performance, none the less.

"Fools" - Wow. When I started reading reviews from the tour about how great this live version was I had to go back and relisten to "Fireball" and just found it hard to believe. I t was an alright song I thought but surely people are over reacting here. Wow. Was I wrong. "Fools" blew me away. It was like the new version of "Bloodsucker", far more powerful and interesting than the original. The hard parts were MUCH harder, more dramatic. The quiet bits, wonderful. Contrasting the original, Jon Lord appeared to be playing what I had thought were the guitar volume swell bits, then Morse followed along with the beautiful, tasteful, intense solo. Then there was the whole new energetic bit where Gillan sings along, "doo-doo-doo-doo." Just amazing. I hope someone bootlegged this! (Psst DP, This would be worth redoing for the next album a la "Bloodsucker".) As the tune finished the first night in San Antonio I just stood there with my arms raised in Awe. [Thought you said you were in San Antonio!? ;^) Rasmus]

"SOTW" - I've seen the riff-raff intro to "Smoke" that Steve did on "Total Abandon" but the rest of the band was more into the accompaniment here playing each tune quite a bit longer than in Australia. In San Antonio Morse started with a killer version of "Voodoo Chile", then "Mississippi Queen", [something illegible in my notes], then the chorded intro to and solo from "Stairway To Heaven" followed by "La Grange". Huge reaction from the audience they loved this and then rocked right on through "Smoke", "Hush" and "HS". In Houston, during the middle of the riff-raff, Morse started playing some oddly familiar chords...then clearly began playing "Love Hurts" at that moment Gillan dragged the lead singer from Nazareth (who was the first band of the night) back on stage to sing a few verses (second time we'd heard the song that night) but the audience loved it and cheered madly. Anyway, it was two glorious evenings. Great to see them again. Deep Purple. Thank you again for all the wonderful music! I definitely left with "a smile on my face" and I'm rabidly awaiting the next album and tour!

Scott Holman

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