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

Birmingham NEC 15th Oct '98 review

Me and a couple of mates travelled up to Brum yesterday from Cornwall to see D.P. and we were blown away. Great performances, great sound, great vibe from the band. Just got back, so here are my thoughts...

I was quite impressed with the support band, Orphic Soop, who although they weren't great musicians tried at least to be a little different and gave it their best shot. Sort of psychedelic and driving rock mixed together, a little bit like EMF (remember them...? Nah!) Good drummer.

The set list has been widely detailed in other reviews so I'll mention just some of my personal highlights, of which there are many...

"Ted..." - I loved it as the opener, great solid version with awesome solo from Steve at the end.

"Bludsucker" - Ripping version, really heavy with fantastic singing and screams by Gillan, where does he get that voice?!

"PoH" - Great drumming from IP, nice melodic solo from JL that developed into a monster. Steve peaked during his end solo (again!).

"Almost Human" - I never liked this song on the album but tonight the really fast interplay bit between JL and SM was incredible, even more so as Steve did a harmony part to it! (Afterwards Gillan said "That's not easy you know... well not for mortals!")

"WFT" - The dynamics of this song were fantastic, even though it sounded tough for IG to sing in places.

"Watching the Skies" - Again the dynamics and contrasts in the music were great, good lights too. Gillan sang the heavy sections with real fire and aggression.

"Steve Morse solo spot" - Before Steve joined D.P. I really didn't know anything about him, but this solo spot was the best I have ever heard *ANY* guitarist do. It was so tasteful, beautifully constructed and perfectly played using some incredibly clever techniques.
It started with Steve playing over some very ambient chords from JL before the stage darkened and Steve played some beautiful classical sounding lines, fading in each note with the volume control. His use of the sampling/delay unit was awesome as the phrases he sampled produced a perfect, almost Bach like counterpoint to his solo work, it was just so impressive and clever, it really blew me away.
He put in bits from Tumeni Notes and did some excellent damped picking which was expertly played. The solo crescendo'd into the end part of "Cascades" and when the band joined in it was a spiritual moment! What a guy!!

"PS" - There was an awesome power and strange energy to this track and the way SM interplayed with JL and the vocals. When Gillan sang the line "1,000 warriors I have known" the lights lit up the crowd and there was definitely something special that flowed between the audience and the band at that moment...real spine-tingling stuff.

"Speed King" - What can I say that hasn't already been said about this? Gillan amazed me tonight with the confidence and power of his vocals, especially on this song and the interplay between the band was inspired and humorous too. They were having a great time, and so were we!

"Seventh Heaven" - I love this song and the harmonic guitar picking at the beginning was impeccably done before they launched into that killer riff. I felt the audience were far too reserved during this song, I hope they continue to do it live as it is a great encore.

"HS" - This was a killer version, pissing all over LATO'96. Gillan's voice was great, IP's drumming was sensational and the guitar solo could have been written for SM, he made it look so easy. Really great to hear Gillan singing Ritchie's solo line, Steve harmonising the part and then JL adding further harmonising during the really fast picking bit! It doesn't get any better than this I think.

So, what a gig. Certainly worth the round trip of hundreds of miles. My only criticism would be of the crowd, who I really didn't think got into the newer songs as they should have done.

Thanks for a great gig guys, any chance of coming down to Plymouth again next time... please!!

Simon Cooper

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