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

The classics better than ever before

I have to admit I was more than a little nervous about seeing Purple on this tour. I pictured Lynyrd Skynyrd fans being like Beavis & Butthead at a monster truck pull and Purple not fitting in between sets of Ted Nugent and their heroes. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.

My friend Pete and I arrived at Jones Beach early, and caught up with Michael Friedman who had come over from California. We also met a couple guys who had come over from England to catch some of the summer tours including this and Ozzfest. When the gates opened we went in to check out the merchandise. Tour books from the "Concerto" tour, bandannas, CDs, videos, and the ugliest concert shirts I have ever seen in my life!

Inside, we caught Ted Nugent's set. He was better than I remembered him being live when I saw him in the mid-nineties. I think the shorter set works well for him. Nugent had a decent crowd, certainly for an opener. And the crowd obviously grew throughout his set. Things were looking good for Purple.

Just after 8pm, Purple hit the stage with "Woman From Tokyo". Interestingly, Purple's set tonight was far better received then their headlining show here in 1998. Gillan's voice was shot for that show, and the crowd was far from sympathetic. Tonight, most people were on their feet for the majority of the set, and they got a great reception.

From "Woman From Tokyo", the band went into "Ted The Mechanic" and "Lazy", both sounding amazing. Throughout the night, Purple played the best versions of their classics I've ever heard. Possibly coming before Skynyrd gave Purple the feeling they had something to prove. Whatever it was, I liked it. In addition, the band looked great. Gillan had certainly shed some pounds, and the band looked happy and fit.

I noticed the crowd getting a little restless for "No One Came" and "Fools", but I certainly loved them. Both sounded great. "Pictures Of Home" (with Gillan making up the second verse after having sung the second verse first!) and "Perfect Strangers" certainly kept the momentum going, and "Perfect Strangers" was a great crowd pleaser. Again, "When A Blind Man Cries" was THE best version I have ever heard!

Steve's intro to "Smoke On The Water" consisted of "Stairway To Heaven", "Black In Black", and more. This seemed to really intrigue the crowd, and was followed by a tight version of "Smoke On The Water" with the mist coming off the ocean drifting across the audience. [ That's "Smoke Off The Water", then? ;^) Rasmus]

Encore time, with tight versions of "Hush" (did I mention they were doing the classics better than ever before?) and "Highway Star". Purple certainly came and conquered. I have nothing against Skynyrd, but in my mind nothing could follow Purple's performance, so we took off. It was an amazing show, and I think Purple are going to gain a lot of fans on this tour. I thought the abbreviated set gave a sense of urgency to the show, and worked well to please diehards and newbies alike. After the show, it was off to Holmdel for another dose of Purple!

Brendan Johnston

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