Sydney 21/4/99 and Newcastle 24/4/99
The Sydney show was the first time I had seen the group live since 1984 and despite all the news and videos I wondered what they would be like live and how Steve would fit in. The answer - The King Is Dead, Long Live Deep Purple. The power of the band is just awesome, I really haven't seen any other act that even comes close to the overall power and majesty of these 5 guys. And Steve - as far as I am concerned all the arguments are over. He fits right in and gives this band just what it needs. His talent is awesome. At Newcastle Big Ian said to me afterwards "Steve - what a great guy" and it showed.
Ted, SKOW, Bludsucker, POH, Almost Human, Woman From Tokyo, Watching The Sky, Fireball (Into the Fire intro as outro), Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming, Smoke, Steve Solo (A-bloody-mazing stuff), Lazy, Perfect Strangers, Speed King ENCORES - Black Night, Highway Star.
The opening riffs of Ted are getting to be one of my favourite parts of Purple and this was confirmed when I heard them live and loud from centre stage front. From the words go the whole band was in the groove. The "telepathy" was there. Lots of interaction, little asides to the audience and between each other, smiles all round. They were a band having a ball and just ripping the place apart with their virtuosity. They all had smiles all night and at one stage during Steve's solo he was doing a sort of "computer scan" running his hands up and down the neck and then starting the riffs of a few songs - "Hocus Pocus", "Moby Dick", "Day tripper", "Heartbreaker", "Crossroads", "Voodoo Chile" (and something from the Who I couldn't pick up) before he went into "Smoke".
The harmonics and melodies he played in his solo were so full of feeling you could feel the emotions inside you. I went with a guy who isn't a bad guitarist himself. He looked across at me with a big grin and just shook his head and gave the thumbs up - unbelievable, just a maestro in action. In the middle of his action Roger moved in close to Little Ian's kit, looked at Ian and pointed to Steve and burst out laughing as thought he couldn't believe what was happening.
Who was the star? I don't know, all the guys were playing so well. You could say Steve but that might be because he was so much to the fore. Big Ian sang up a storm and the rapport he established with the crowd had to be seen to be believed, they were in his hands all night. Roger got a bit of extra limelight when Steve's amp went at one stage at Sydney and he got to play a nice extended solo. It showed that he isn't playing the bass because he can't handle a guitar!
Newcastle was probably the weakest of the concerts. It was slow to start but picked up after a while and the reaction at the end was great. The support act said the crowd was noiser than Brisbane so maybe there was some hangover from that that made the start slow. A BIG THANKS to Colin Hart for the backstage passes at Newcastle. To meet and chat with the guys and get pictures and autographs just topped everything off. The others were in a bit of a hurry but Roger and Big Ian each talked with us for almost 10 minutes each. Real gentlemen and concerned what their fans thought. Thanks guys. Sydney 9 out of 10 and Newcastle 8 out of 10.