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

Review of Manchester gig

The Manchester show was awesome. Band and crowd enjoyed themselves hugely. The band stayed around for ages afterwards signing programmes and posing for photographs. Thanks to Ian Gillan for facilitating the after show passes for me and my brother at very short notice after being accosted in the Midland Hotel. What a guy! Fabulous night - see them if you can. A great week for Purple after the Big Breakfast and plenty of rave reviews. No time to pen my own unbiased account - a couple of Geography lectures to finish off instead! The Manchester Evening News carried a report on Sunday night's gig:


Manchester Arena
Manchester Evening News 19 October 1998 (BY PAUL TAYLOR)

BREAKING-UP and making-up made them rock music's answer to Richard Burton and Liz Taylor. That phrase "musical differences" - usually a euphemism for lead guitarist attempting to strangle the singer - may have been invented for them.

So the biggest contrast between Deep Purple 1998 and in their several heydays is not the thickening waists and grey hair but the obvious truth that they are now happy with each other. It took yet another final departure by guitarist/shirty genius Ritchie Blackmore and his replacement by Steve Morse to achieve it. But, finally, you can enjoy a Deep Purple concert without fearing it will be their last.

And there is still plenty to enjoy in the Purps if, firstly, you are a lover of immaculately self-indulgent rock and, secondly, you appreciate the appreciate the sight of grizzled old gents disporting themselves like young bloods. Playing last night even better than in their prime, the band's appeal lies in gobsmacking musicianship.

Ian Paice is one of rock's most intelligent drummers, lacing the steam hammer beats with jazz licks. Jon Lord's searing Hammond organ, bubbling with baroque and blues, makes him perhaps the only instantly recognisable keyboard stylist in rock. Ian Gillan's voice is pure testosterone, his operatic screams sounding as if someone has taken a gelding implement to Luciano Pavarotti. Morse is a dazzling axe merchant who has stamped his authority on songs which were Blackmore's own.

The mainly male crowd politely applauded the later material, but went barmy for Speed King, Highway Star, Lazy, Pictures of Home, Smoke on the Water and all those other songs of the seventies.

Jamie Woodward

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