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

Holy cow!!

I'm gonna list my complaints first.
1. Not enough newer stuff.
2. DP weren't onstage nearly long enough (perhaps this accounts for #1)
3. Skynyrd's southern boogie was a huge letdown after DP's intense, phenomenal show!

I didn't catch the opening act. Got there in time for Ted Nugent, who is a good lead-in for DP. Obnoxiousness aside, the man can play the hell out of the guitar, and actually has a sweet fluidity to his playing. Love the feedback he gets from that Byrdland. I wouldn't mind seeing just him as an opening act for DP. His power trio also deserved more stage time. Onward....

Deep Purple was AWESOME! Holy cow - this is possibly the best I've ever seen them. Ian Gillan (w/ short hair!) sounded GREAT. The last time they came to Jones his voice was obviously hurting a bit - but not this time. Clear and powerful, he sang wonderfully. The band opened with "Woman From Tokyo" and then "Ted The Mechanic". Both played well and fun. "Lazy" also was great.

Then in "No One Came" they started to get that intensity happening as only Deep Purple can. This carried through the rest of the set, with a stellar "Pictures Of Home", "When A Blind Man Cries", and "Perfect Strangers" (not neccessarily played in that order but I'm too blown away to remember the order).

The band also threw some neat, inventive twists into the music. They showed they'd have little difficulty veering off into ELP-style territory if they so choose.

Glover & Paice held down a solid, consistently heavy groove. No drum solo (due to short set time I guess) which is unfortunate as Paice is still one of the better soloists around. Jon Lord is in as good form as I've ever seen. His playing was inventive and richly textured. It's great to see him playing his butt off like that.

As for Steve Morse... Pardon me but I'm having trouble remembering Purple's former banjo player! Morse is THAT good, and such a great fit for the band. I don't know, but it looks suspiciously like he's having the time of his life playing rock star in the ultimate hard-rock band. Which brings me to my first highlight...

Ordinarily it would be the LAST song I wanna hear from these guys, as I sometimes think it's waaay overplayed on radio. But they did a lead-in which was basically a Morse solo interpolating chunks of "Stairway To Heaven", "Back In Black", and other famous riffs - almost as if to say "Anything you guys can do WE can do better" as well as putting those riffs in their place behind THE greatest R&R riff ever - "Smoke On The Water"! Which sounded fresh and exciting AND intense.

The encores were both phenomenal. "Hush" was great and got the already-excited crowd even more into it. Jon's solo was excellent, and the groove intense. Then for the finale they played "Highway Star" with Morse making his guitar sound like a motorcycle at the opening. They tore through it... Morse played the famous guitar solo with Gillan singing the harmony guitar parts! It was over all too soon... unlike Skynyrd's constant appeals for audience reaction, Purple only had to play to get the crowd begging for another encore. DAMN this band is great! I wouldn't want to be in Skynyrd's shoes, having to follow this band onstage night after night...

Glen King

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