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

Stathis' Istanbul Review

What can you write by the way of a review for what is, as objectively as I can judge, the best Purple gig you've ever seen? Me, I've seen them 23 times since Mudworth 85 and yesterday was the best. By far. They came on stage to a thunderous roar of the crowd, tuned up and with an organ flourish they crashed straight into Hush, followed closely by Bloodsucker.
Purple these days are heavy, precise, exhilarating, inventive and so much good fun. The musicianship is there and it could never be doubted, only now they've gelled so well, became a complete, 5-way unit. I suppose I'm rambling because I can't exactly put my finger on what was so magic about this second night in Istanbul, but it was. This is a band at the height of their powers. I actually had a sense of pride watching them, I was feeling proud that this is the band I follow and I support, and they are so godamm good! The point is, they prove it to an audience that isn't by any stretch of the imagination hardcore Purple fans: young kids mostly, in Prodigy and Metallica T-shirts. There were gigs in the past where I was feeling anything but pride, in fact the complete opposite. Birmingham 93 springs to mind. But I digress. The set flowed much better than last time around, and the inclusion of 7 songs off the new album (a first for Purple, as Jon rightly noted, "we were doing albums that only had 7 tracks on them!") is totally justified. These songs were totally stage-ready, worked very well live and helped create a very sensible balance with songs plucked from a treasure trove of back catalogue material.
Some bits that stick in the memory: the intro to Fingers to the Bone, where Steve toys with the main riff before slamming into it-it does help that the song is an undisputed Purple classic! The way Gillan powers into the verses of Watching the Sky-the guy is actually singing better than he's done for a long time, and any fule kno that ;-) Jon's short but oh-so-sweet solo that incorporated bits of Mozart's Rondo A La Turk and a bit of Sarabande (very cruelly short!). Speed King with excellent interplay between Steve, Jon and Big Ian, and also a very flashy (again, too short!) drum solo. A full, made in Japan-ish Lazy was such a treat! After Highway Star, the house lights went up, outro music played, but still none would leave their place and the whole audience was screaming like you never heard! So, 10 minutes later they came back, obviously not scheduled, as they'd begun to change. Ian Gillan barefoot and in shorts, and they did a delicious Black Night, which rounded things off nicely. The whole damn show was a highlight, anyway. Miss them at your peril. There's an aura of "happening" around this band, and this carries very well into the live show. I honestly think they're going to make a lot of converts once this tour is finished.

Stathis Panagiotopoulos

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