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

A bunch of guys who excel at the art of playing music

When I told my wife that Deep Purple and Ted Nugent would be appearing on the same bill, she cried out, "Together? You have to go!" Indeed! It's like going to two shows for half-price. I must admit that I've never really been much of a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, but getting to see those good ol' boys was a nice dessert following the Nugent appetizer and the Purple entree.

The crowd was, by far, a Skynyrd crowd - the parking lot was a sea of Confederate flags. Ted Nugent showed his support by wearing an oversized Confederate flag tank-top, and Ian Gillan even got into the redneck act by going barefoot (again)!

Teddy crammed as much music as he could afford into a 30-minute set. Basically, we heard all of the mid-seventies classics and very little banter in between songs, which is just as well, since I've seen Ted headline before and he has a way of making his guitar sing non-stop between songs, no matter what else he happens to be doing or saying on stage. Finally, a flaming arrow through the guitar, quick exit, wait for DP.

The set list has remained pretty consistent over the last few shows:
1) "Woman From Tokyo"
2) "Ted The Mechanic" (a.k.a. "Eric The Wine Taster")
3) "Lazy"
4) "Knocking At Your Back Door"
5) "Fools"
6) "Pictures Of Home"
7) Jon Lord brief solo/"Perfect Strangers"
8) "When A Blind Man Cries"
9) a) Morse's riff sampler: "La Grange"/"Purple Haze"/"Stairway to Heaven"/"Back In Black"
9) b) "Smoke On The Water"

10) "Hush"
11) "Highway Star"

"You are amazing!" So are you, guys. This band consistently sounds so much better live than they do on studio recordings. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with their studio recordings. Deep Purple has always said that they are a live band, and that they write more for the stage than for the studio, so here they were to prove it.

My personal favorite moments came as Purple performed the songs that are not FM radio staples, such as "Fools," "When A Blind Man Cries" and "Pictures Of Home". Audience highlights came during "Perfect Strangers" and "Smoke On The Water". The Lynyrd Skynyrd crowd were suitably impressed by Steve Morse's riff sampler, though they didn't seem to understand that they were being teased for "Smoke On The Water."

In short, DP played like a bunch of guys who excel at the art of playing music and have fun while they are doing it.

"Having fun" served as the unofficial theme of the night; "good vibes", to borrow Ian Gillan's phrase, abounded. The front men for all three bands took time to compliment their touring partners, which I wouldn't have expected in the pre-Morse era. You know who I mean...

Skynyrd performed most of their hits and a few things that I didn't recognize. I don't mind that my friend Tom (who was also my ride home, *ahem*) made me stay for the closing act, but if Deep Purple had been up for it (and I think they were), I would have preferred a two-hour set. There are nine albums worth of Gillan-era DP to draw on!

Looking forward to a new album and, hopefully, a headlining tour with a longer set.

Dave Ohliger

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