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

Deep Purple, Live at Wembley 14.10.98 - A "Yank's" Review

To say that last night's show blew me away or kicked my ass would be an understatement. This was the third time I saw them on the current tour, and by far it was the best -- ever!!! Having only seen them on U.S. tours over the years, it did my soul good to see the Purps play in front of a hometown (in a manner of speaking) crowd that was on its feet from beginning to end (and, please, I'm not trying to resurrect the standing vs. sitting thread…but frankly, after watching the band feed off this crowd all the "courteous" people in favor of sitting should sit at home the next time they come to town).

Here's the nearly two hour set list (in order)
Ted the Mechanic
Strange Kind of Woman
       Steve/Paicey jam
Pictures of Home
       "Sweet Home Alabama" intro
Almost Human
Woman from Tokyo
Watching the Sky
Fingers to the Bone
Any Fule Know That
Steve/Jon mini jam
Steve solo w/ "Heartbreaker" riff
I'm Not Your Lover Now jam
Smoke on the Water
Jon Lord solo
Perfect Strangers
Speed King
       Mini solos by all
       Gillan/Morse duel

Black night
Highway Star

The band was tight, psyched, and just plain happy. The sound in the arena was excellent (the two U.S. gigs I caught were outside - N.J. and Jones Beach - where the sound, IMHO, is always less than perfect). And while I missed Hush and 7th Heaven, I can't begin to tell you what a treat it was to hear Fingers and Fule live (my wife leaned over to me during Fingers and said she had chills listening to Ian sing…and I thought it was just me!). And, Blacknight was…well, you know what I mean!

The biggest surprise of the evening was Steve Morse - including his guitar solo (I'm not normally a big fan of extended solos, my philosophy being: "practice on your own time and play an extra song"). Don't get me wrong, he instantly won me over on Purpendicular and I credit him with revitalizing my favorite band. His solos during the songs seemed crisper and meshed better than the U.S. gigs…and maybe it was my imagination, but it appeared he found a way to stick closer to the "Blackmore script" with the riffs on classics like Highway and Smoke, while integrating his own style. During his solo, my wife sarcastically commented, "Ritchie who." And while I'm not quite ready to go there, I don't see any reason to hope for a reunion. I want to see more Purple albums with Steve. And I want Ritchie to tour the states with Blackmore's Night, get it out of his system, and then reform a kickass version of Rainbow.

Gillan is obviously over his summertime cold and screamed the night away. I don't think he ever sounded better. Paicey and Lord were their usual masterful selves. And Roger continues to treat his bass like a lead guitar (I remember an interview album around the time of PS where Roger says that he's not one of the better bass players, I think he says "sorry, you're wrong, you don't know what you're talking about, I'm afraid I don't agree with him on that point.)

So, to Roger and the guys, thanks for making what would have been a hum-drum business trip into an unforgettable Purple event.

And a note to U.S. promoters: Do not team this band up with any other "big name" acts…give them the stage time they deserve. If you don't, I'm heading back to Europe for the next tour!!


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