UK Tour - 2nd Leg - Glasgow/Manchester
I closed my report on the 1st leg saying, "Two more shows to come at the weekend, can they still get better and better? On this evidence, it wouldn't surprise me."
Well, its a close call (and with all these matters its a personal thing) but, for me, Birmingham was the highlight of the UK tour, though no doubt each will have their own favourite.
That's not to say Purple weren't excellent at both Glasgow and Manchester - they were - but they are currently putting in excellent performances every night, its just varying degrees of excellence!
The car journey to Manchester to catch the coach up to Glasgow included hearing Ritchie Blackmore on Heinz's 'Just Like Eddie' on the Sounds Of The Sixties radio show along with some other Joe Meek stuff, but I digress.
Arrived at the Sydney Opera House, sorry wrong continent, the Glasgow Armadillo. Whilst at Wembley and the NEC I was too close to the stage to take in the audience's response to the band, at Glasgow I had opted for a place around halfway back in the stalls, allowing me the chance to see and hear and appreciate the atmosphere of the renowned and highly regarded Glaswegian crowd. Gillan mentioned taking this audience out on the road in a fleet of coaches and also referred to that gig at Tiffany's in 1970.
Steve's solo spot in Glasgow attracted a sole cry for Blackmore. Prat! Perhaps it was being further back for this show and being able to take everything in more dispassionately but this seemed to me to be the best of Steve's solos, where the whole piece jelled.
Jon slipped in 'Loch Lomond' and 'I Belong to Glasgow' into his keyboard solo and a little humour at the start of 'Perfect Strangers' by starting the intro, then pausing and making out he'd forgotten what came next.
'Perfect Strangers' is a song that, as the sole representative of the 10 years from 1984 to 1993, I'd begun to tire of some time ago, but tonight it was really quite powerful.
At Manchester, due to a cock-up over passes (which never materialised) I didn't get to take my front row position until a couple of minutes into 'Ted' which marred for me the early part of the show.
By now, a lot of the things some might have thought were ad-libbed were turning up every night - Gillan's hat for 'Lazy', Roger striking his bass against a speaker in 'Any Fule Kno That', the switching of each other's volume controls by Roger and Steve, hell even when Ian tied his hair back - but for Manchester they had some new tricks up their sleeves. Gillan in a viking helmet, a large puppet head on top of some PA speakers to Roger's right (what was that about?) and an impromptu jam started by Roger just before 'Speed King' that went on for three or four minutes.
Other memories: 'Fingers To The Bone', my favourite track off 'Abandon' and sadly omitted from the setlist in Brussels. The guitar/vocal interplay in 'Speed King'...amazing.
I thought Ian played possibly his best drum solo of the UK shows at Manchester.
Perhaps the only disappointment was that, having left the buying of souvenir t-shirts until the last night, post-show they had sold out of the polo and 'allover' shirts. This will, I hope, be a position that the on-line DP store will be able to allow me to remedy.
'Black Night' as first encore both nights, though 'Seventh Heaven' was on the setlists on stage.
More autographs, album posters, one of Ian's drum sticks, one of Steve's picks and his setlist provided more material for when the 'Purple room' at home gets a revamp.
Whilst the return journey home from the first leg was with a feeling of euphoria, coupled with the anticipation of the weekend's shows, this time it was with a feeling of "back to life, back to reality".
Of course, there's plenty of time to consider arrangements to catch a show or two on the next leg of their European tour when it kicks off next month.
Ever on the lookout for more Purple stuff, I even managed to buy a tape of the Disky 'The Collection' album at Ferrybridge Services on the way home and, in the morning, there were two more posters in the mail to go towards that refurbishment of the 'Purple room'.
There's still the video of the Big Breakfast to watch, hopefully not before too long.
I'm not a subscriber to the "Deep Purple can do no wrong" school of thought - they have on many occasions scored a few own goals - but on the evidence of the five shows and one TV show I've attended so far on this tour, they're certainly doing nothing wrong right now.
If they're coming your way, don't miss them! If they're not coming your way, make the effort and go see them anyway! [Some of the travelling away supporters for the UK shows came from Japan and Australia.]
Special thanks go to the five people who made the week's experience so memorable...Ian, Steve, Roger, Ian and Jon...five musicians who continue to perform at the peak of their powers and all of the people I met along the way.