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


Deep Purple's performance at the Tweeter Center in Chicago was awesome! I have been a big fan since hearing "Smoke On The Water" on the radio and repeatedly playing "Machine Head" as a 14 year old.

Deep Purple appeared in Loopfest, at the Tweeter Center in suburban Chicago, and sponsored by a Chicago radio station. Loopfest featured six bands - Ted Nugent appeared fourth, followed by Deep Purple, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the headliner.

I last saw Deep Purple live on two consecutive nights in Chicago in February 1985, during the "Perfect Strangers" tour. Unfortunately, I had been unable to see Purple since (except for the live videos). Determined not to miss them again, I flew in from San Jose, California just for the show. I had an extra highlight as I waited to meet my brother near the arena's entrance while Ted Nugent played on stage. The Loop, the radio station sponsoring Loopfest, announced from its nearby mobile studio that Steve Morse was on the air. I rushed over and witnessed the brief interview. Afterward, he met a few fans and signed autographs. Steve chatted with the fans and signed autographs. Steve really impressed me. He was very approachable and took his time as he talked with the fans. I didn't think of it at the time, but I should have asked him about the next album. Keep in mind; This was only about an hour before Deep Purple took the stage. As I walked away, I thought about how Steve more than fills Ritchie Blackmore's shoes. I had completely gotten over the transition by the time I first heard "Live At The Olympia '96".

Deep Purple took the stage at 7:40 local time. Most noticeably, Ian Gillan was wearing bright red leather pants, a white leather jacket (it was replaced midway through the first song), and no shoes.

The setlist was:
"Woman From Tokyo"
"Ted The Mechanic"
"Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming"
"Hey Cisco"
"Perfect Strangers"
"When A Blind Man Cries"
"Smoke On The Water" Encore - "Highway Star"

The Band sounded great. Ian's voice was fantastic, with a lot of screams and duets with Steve Morse. Everyone was smiling a lot and really seemed to be enjoying themselves onstage. Unfortunately, it ended too soon due to the 75-minute limit on the set. I had a sense the guys were a little rushed at times, probably given the 75-minute time restriction.

Some specific highlights for me:
"Lazy" - Jon Lord opened the song in fantastic form. The version was very tight and was well suited for a set of this length.
"Fools" - Great to hear this classic live. Steve Morse played an excellent guitar solo. I wonder if Purple would have played this if Ritchie were still around.
"Hey Cisco" - What a great surprise to hear this one; it sounded great!
"Smoke On The Water" - Mr. Morse started off with his usual introductions of hard rock classics and they even broke into "You Really Got Me" (I think that's the correct title. My brother told me he didn't realize that was a Deep Purple song so I had to explain), with Ian even doing some vocals. The interesting thing was Ian Gillan was leaning against his congas intently watching Steve's moves and the opportunity to jump in on vocals.
"Highway Star" - Great opening by Steve; the whole song reminded me of the "Total Abandon" video version.

My calculations indicate they completed the set and the encore in about 70 minutes. It would be great to squeeze in another song, perhaps "Rat Bat Blue" or "Smooth Dancer".

I am really looking forward to the upcoming DVD from the June 5 show in Florida. It's a great idea to continue to release shows on DVD on a regular basis in the future.

Keep up the great work Ian, Steve, Jon, Roger and Ian! I really look forward to seeing you live again soon.

Joe Steger

[ reviews | the highway star ]