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

Brussels 24th September

Met up with fellow travellers Benjamin Weaver (from Sweden) and Fedor de Lange (Netherlands) in the Grand Place for a quick beer before catching a taxi to the venue. Once there, time to browse through the CD's for sale and take in the diverse selection of souvenirs available and another drink. The choice of t-shirts certainly seems to have been given some effort after Roger's input, though I felt it was strange that some of the shirts (including the polo shirt) didn't use the DP title font from 'Abandon' rather than new logos which don't actually tie in with any of the albums.

Bumped into Stephen Thomson, wearing his after show pass for what I understand was to be a heavily attended record company do. (Details to follow perhaps?) I'd guess EMI might have been looking to get some reports/interviews from the show into the press in order to promote their new compilation for which there were promotional handouts for everyone though, strangely I thought, there was no promotion from the record company for 'Abandon'.

Avoided the support act, whoever they were, so as a result we weren't able to get front row. Still, we managed to get fairly well placed towards the front and in the centre.

Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic
Strange Kind Of Woman
Pictures Of Home

Having read just before I set off that the acoustics here were supposedly quite poor, the sound was surprisingly clear when the band blasted into 'Ted' just after 9pm.

From the tapes I'd been hearing, I immediately liked the new arrangement of 'Strange Kind Of Woman' with the repeated, slow-waltz, middle section and added keyboard solo, though Steve's lengthy solo near the end with interplay with Ian Paice is perhaps a little superfluous as he has plenty of other opportunities where he gets the chance to shine to better effect.

Bludsucker introduced as 'a song that's twice been a new song'. Ian Gillan returned towards the end of 'Pictures' from a costume change now wearing black shorts.

Almost Human
Woman From Tokyo
Watching the Sky
Any Fule Kno That

Backing vocals from Roger and Steve on 'Almost Human'. 'Watching The Sky' introduced as 'Skywatching' included a nice trick on Roger's part where instead of picking the note he hit the note by striking the string against a speaker cabinet.

I struggled to hear Jon's work in this part of the set. From his actions, he was clearly putting a lot of work into these numbers, but only the top end work seemed to be easily identifiable. Just a thought, but the middle part of the set is loaded with new songs which might be better off more evenly spread throughout the set.

After 'Any Fule', Steve's solo started with organ accompiment from Jon, before going on to resemble and close with the final section from the old live arrangement of 'Cascades'.

Smoke On The Water
Perfect Strangers
Speed King

Steve's intro to 'Smoke'  was the short, lower end, hammer-on sequence without any of the 'selections from the greatest guitar riffs of all-time'. Jon's solo preceded Lazy for which Ian Gillan appeared wearing a hat. Paicey's lively solo in 'Speed King' was concluded with a particlarly fast flurry and a melodramatic wipe of his forehead. We also got a cover of Roy Orbison's 'Dream Baby'. The main set closed around 10.30pm.

Seventh Heaven
Highway Star

For me, this had been a really excellent performance from the whole band and well-received by the lively and responsive crowd. Worthy of another encore maybe? Black Night? But it was not to be just before 10.50pm when the house lights came on.

Consensus of opinion afterwards was 'a great show, but'. I expect the majority of those there (around 6,000) would have gone home rightly well-pleased with the evening's entertainment. However, some of us are looking for more of the variety or element of  surprise that was evident on earlier tours. The set has, for sometime, lacked another opportunity besides 'Speed King' for more of the improvisation and interplay for which Purple made their name, though I guess a 30-minute 'Wring That Neck' is out of the question.

As we left, a chance to get some souvenirs. The tour prog is excellent, though if the publishers need a proof-reader next time, I will happily oblige for a small fee. It irritates me that something Roger has clearly put so much time into couldn't have been finished off more professionally.

On our return to the Grand Place around midnight, we were surprised to find a band of renaissance minstrels wandering the streets complete in their period costumes. We should have asked for something off the 'Shadow Of The Moon' album.

An all-night drinking session followed in the city centre bars for Fedor and I, as we waited for our early morning trains.

Some might notice the logo used on the ticket was lifted from one of those European 'Best Of' CD's from 3 or 4 years ago. If I've missed anything else, I'm sure Fedor, Ben or Stephen will have covered it.

Four UK tour dates now loom larger, though another overseas jaunt - to Rotterdam perhaps - could well be in order.

Nigel Young

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