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

No Philly, but Holmdel was flawless

I last saw the greatest live band on earth (otherwise known as Deep Purple) in Tokyo in March of 2000. (Read my review in the archives, I'm the one who travelled all the way from Philadelphia to Japan with no ticket, but took a chance and scored a great seat to each show!!) Since the guys have an unfortunate recent history of NOT playing shows in Philly (the aborted summer 1993 treck, no show at all here for the 1996 "Purpendicular" Tour, the cancelled 1998 show in Camden when Ian wasn't quite 'himself' shall we say, and again no Philly stop for this 2001 jaunt) I figured I better get up to the PNC Arts Center as it would probably be my only chance to catch the guys this year. I will say the 90 minute drive up the Garden State Parkway wasn't as bad as the 13 hour plane ride to Tokyo (LOL)!!!!

Others will be writing a set list, so I will only say that the band absolutely blew my mind when they played "Knocking At Your Back Door" right after "Lazy" instead of "No One Came". Totally threw me off guard and a total triumph as it is one of my favorite 'modern' Deep Purple tracks. They played this as well as the other ten songs in their abbreviated 'opening' set - flawlessly.

Gillan in particular was in fine form. He thanked Nugent and some southern rock band that was headlining the show for their hospitality during the tour, saying all bands and their respective crews were getting along quite nicely.

After Morse did his faux-intro to "Smoke On The Water" which included bits of riffs from bands like "Free", "Led Zeppelin", "Cream", and "ZZ Top", he launched into the most famous riff in rock history and the place went CRAZY!!! Maybe all the crowd were not there to see Purple, but as the set went on the band were winning the undecideds over and this closing song set the place on FIRE!!! I have seen them do this tune lots of times, but there was something magical about its performance tonight!! Maybe this Friday night crowd was just ready to party, but man - "Smoke" really packed a whallop tonight!!! It was funny to see those who chose to sit out Purple's set race to their seats as quickly as possible when the guys ripped into this classic!!

Deafening cheers demanded the band return to play more, and I was treated to my first live rendition of "Hush" which Ian described as 'our' first hit in America (I guess he was hoping most of the folks didn't know he wasn't even in the band at the time the song was popular) and the crowd gave the classic Deep Purple radio hit a tremendous response even outshining "Smoke". It was clear the band was starting to dominate, and by the end of "Highway Star" the only jeers coming from the now almost full theatre were caused by the houselights coming on indicating the band were now done with their all too brief set.

I have been to hundreds of rock shows, and let me tell you - this band had the crowd eating out their hands by set's end. Way to go,guys!! But please play a Philly show when you play the states in 2002, okay?? And while we are at it, how 'bout at least one or two "Concerto" shows with Ronnie James Dio and the full orchestra, maybe in New York or something?? North America so far has been left out with regards to these very special shows!!!!

P.S. Evidently there was some other group scheduled to play after Purple tonight which is why the set list and alotted time were shorter than normal. I couldn't tell you if this band (can't remember their name) had the courage to go on after Purple's set (I left right after), but I wish them luck if they did - they were gonna need it!!!!

Michael Zaleski

[ reviews | the highway star ]