Deep Purple Manchester M.E.N. Arena 18th October 1998
After a slightly shaky start with "Ted the Mechanic", Deep Purple quickly reached top form as they performed "Strange Kind of Woman" as well as I have ever seen.
I have never seen any Rock Band other than Purple who seem to create so much light and shade in their music, and it appears that they are now able to provide a much greater consistency of quality than when I have seen them before. There is just as much improvisation as ever, and although they played an almost the same songs as at Birmingham (with the exception of "Any Fule Kno That" which was played earlier tonight, and the addition of "Black Night" in the encore), the solos and jamming were completely different.
The U.K. tour is now over , and I just hope that we don't have to wait too long before the next one.
IGB had been a little disappointing the first time I had seen them other than a superb display of Ian's personality and stage presence. The October show was a vast improvement, and from that point on, I became a loyal Gillan fan.
Rainbow put on a very good show, one of only two times that I have seen Ritchie truly at his best.
Whitesnake were also a favourite between 1980 and 81 although I was not keen on the way they sounded after the departure of Ian Paice and Neil Murray, until the release of the 1987 album.
I was hugely disappointed after the breakup of Gillan, which had always been a great live band regularly touring Britain, and rarely failing to impress, and I was horrified with the Ian's performance with Black Sabbath at the Reading festival in 1983. It came as a huge relief to hear that Purple had reformed, and that the Perfect Strangers album turned out the way it did, even though to me it sounded like Purple had just become another incarnation of Rainbow.
The Knebworth show was very enjoyable, but it wasn't until I heard the recording of the show on Radio One, a week or so later, that I realised just how good a show it had been.
Two years later, The House of Blue Light was released, and although it contains many songs that I like, most notably The Unwritten Law, there was too much that I didn't like about that album for it to be one of my favourites. However, I saw Purple four times on that tour and each show was superb.
After Ian Gillan's departure, I saw Ian with Garth Rocket and the Moonshiners in a small club in Birmingham, and this was a brilliant show, giving us a chance to hear many of the old Gillan songs performed once again.
In the mean time Deep Purple released Slaves and Masters, which I know the band do not consider to be a "real" Purple album, but I must confess that in my humble opinion, it was a whole lot better that The House of Blue Light. I was hugely disappointed when I saw them perform on that tour, Joe Lynn Turner, who had greatly impressed me with his performance on Rainbow's last tour seemed to be completely out of his depth, and the only member of the band who impressed me that night was Ritchie Blackmore, who turned in the best performance I had seen from him since Rainbow in 1977. Why did he never do that with Ian in the band?
After this, Gillan released the Toolbox album, which to this day remains one of my favourites, and he did a tour of smaller UK venues. I saw two of them, the first at Worcester which was one of the best gigs I have ever seen, the energy of this band was incredible, and that drummer, I rate him second only to Ian Paice.
1993 saw Gillan back with Deep Purple and the release of The Battle Rages On, which was by far the best album that Purple had recorded since Perfect Strangers, possibly the best since Machine Head. I looked forward to the show at the N.E.C. which was totally ruined by Ritchie Blackmore who appeared to be trying to destroy the band. I was in the standing area close to Ritchie's amps, and I was unable to hear much else of what was going on that night, and I really thought that that would be the last that the world heard of Deep Purple. What a disastrous end to the career of one of rock's greatest bands!
Three years later, I somehow found out that Deep Purple were once again touring.
1998, Abandon is yet another brilliant album, and I saw the show at Birmingham three days ago. Looking back, the choice of material for that show seemed to be lacking a little of the imagination used for the Purpendicular tour, but the performance was superb, and the quality of sound, not usually too good at the N.E.C. was, well I can't find words to describe it. The clarity was even better than on recordings helping to make it a night I am unlikely to ever forget.