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

Deep Purple In Concert
A.Band.On.Tour 98

Jurahalle in Neumarkt outside Nürnberg - June 18
Sporthalle in Hamburg - June 21
Velodrom in Berlin - June 22 (Roger: "Best show of the tour so far!")

The setlist for all three shows
Strange Kind Of Woman (Neumarkt: "Here's a woman - just one!")
Ted The Mechanic (Hamburg: "Eduardo The Mechanic!")
Pictures Of Home
Fingers To The Bone
Almost Human
Woman From Tokyo
Watching The Sky (aka Zip My Lip x 7!)
Seventh Heaven
Steve Morse's solo
Smoke On The Water ("the dang-dang song!")
Evil Louie (there's one in all of us!)
Jon Lord's solo (except in Hamburg)
Perfect Strangers (Berlin: "This song's just a teenager!")
Speed King
Any Fule Kno That
Highway Star
Black Night (Berlin only)

It was really good to see them all again. It's been 21 long months since my last Purple show and I felt a certain kick when the house lights went down at my first show in the Jurahalle.
Generally it can be said about all three shows that I enjoyed the new songs more than the old ones. Not one of the /-\ songs was a disappointment to me. I'd especially looked forward to Any Fule Kno That and Almst Human and was extremely satisfied with what I got. (They didn't play She Was, but at just around two hours any complaints superfluous!)

Hush is a sort of low-key set opener. They wander onstage without any preamble and Jon doodles for a second or two before Paicey counts in the song and we're off - not with an explosion as previously with Fireball or Highway Star, but gently. I like it.
Almost Human has Jon playing a sort of percussive thing on the synth (that's him, not Paicey playing that weird cowbell pattern), yet he transforms back into his own self (?!) when ending the song with a very long solo which just keeps on building. Tentative at first, but as he works his way up the keys it intensifies and gains enormous strength and at the end I was left thinking of Roger's words that "you don't find many Jon Lords around!"
I can't help thinking that their choice of old material isn't very adventurous, although it might reflect a wish to plug some of the anniversary releases - especially so with a Made In Japan-ish version of Lazy. But they have a highly contagious way of launching themselves into Woman From Tokyo or Highway Star or even Smoke On The Water that is simply irresistible! A renowned Blackmore fanatic who shall remain nameless, was won over by the Hamburg show and this is really what it's all about. They manage to surpass even my high expectations (and put his doubts to shame) and I'm stood there with a big silly grin on my face! That's a fantastic feeling. Talk about musical skill and onstage enthusiasm!
"As we're about to enter another world recession, here's a song about what happens when the money bastards take over." Fingers To The Bone was a nice surprise. It's introduced by Steve and in Hamburg he had me fooled to think he was going to play the The Aviator. Fingers To The Bone takes on great proportions live - it is incredibly melodic and very comfortable to just sort of hum along to during the verses, yet it's as if time stands still and the whole arena vibrates around me when they go into that massive stop-start riff between the verses. They've never done anything like this before but it's very becoming. Then there's the beautiful quiet middle where Ian Gillan doodles on the harmonica over (under?) Jon's piano solo. The song effortlessly manages to marry light-as-air guitar runs á la The Aviator with just about the heaviest riff they've ever done. An instant classic? Nah, that's an oxymoron! Overcoming a little opening hoarseness Ian delivered some frighteningly good performances on all three nights, seemingly really enjoying himself during the melodic bits of Fingers To The Bone and Watching The Sky. (But I do wonder whether the hecklers shouting for Child In Time would be prepared to do a 45 km marathon in record breaking time themselves once they reach their 50's?)
Instead of a voice-guitar duet in Strange Kind Of Woman, Steve does a call-answer thing with the audience which was especially successful in Hamburg. The song's been slightly rearranged as well with the quiet bit repeated just before the ad-lib part near the also new ending. In Woman From Tokyo, stood right next to Steve, Ian hits every note during the quiet middle bit just perfectly - watching these guys at work is an endless joy!
Talk about Watching... Watching The Sky is another pleasant surprise. It seems to me they've gone for the more unusual songs off the new album this time and this is very admirable. The heavy intro reminds me of the faultless The Battle Rages On, but this is quickly forgotten when we drift into the airy space that is the first part of the verse; "I sit here alone..." This song is another winner and while the album certainly has me convinced, the in concert version nails me to the wall. In Hamburg we're into the quiet part of the second verse when one brainless drunk-ass loses his senses and hurls his half-empty thick plastic beer cup at the band - probably aiming at "this fucking useless new boy Steve Morse" - but hits a completely unsuspecting Jon Lord right on the forehead, just above the hairline. Jon's inner lights go out for a second, his knees buckle under him, he regains his balance against the piano, but stumbles off behind the amps with his hands to his head. At this point the show had been a winner for me. Spirits were high and I was thoroughly enjoying myself, but this thoughtless idiotic act threatens to send the show emotionally back to square one. Witnessing the Birmingham '93 debacle was hard enough, but seeing Jon hurt like this is just too much. (Am I involving myself too much in this? I hope not. I just happen to care very much for these guys and have done so for more than half my life, so watching something like this is a distinct displeasure.)
Fortunately Jon returns to a massive cheer before the song is over, but his night is ruined. Muttering the word Bastard! he looks like he could kill! He performs the rest of the show excellently, but with obvious and very understandable lack of enthusiasm and he completely skips his solo linking Evil Louie with Lazy.
The good side of this incident however, was that the rest of the band suddenly seemed hell bent on not only pulling through, but pulling through with a blinder! There's a sudden aggressiveness in their playing and not just while they're reduced to a 4-piece during half a song - during the remaining part of the show they are putting the mindless and violent (not to mention cowardly anonymous) protest to shame by simply going flat out, thus proving indeed that it was completely unjustified. That's professionalism for you, boys & girls!
(Coming with such speed and from that angle, had the thick plastic cup been a glass bottle, Jon would certainly not have been able to finish the show! Think about it.)
Ian Gillan in Neumarkt after Watching The Sky: "That was Zip My Lip. Actually it was Zip My Lip, Zip My Lip, Zip My Lip, Zip My Lip, Zip My Lip, Zip My Lip, Zip My Lip!! That's seven which is enough for anyone. Except when you're in heaven!" and we're off right up there...
This song was previewed on the House Of Blues tour, and it really is a gem. The jazzy cymbal work Paicey uses for the intro is fabulous, but the high point must be when they go into Steve's solo almost under-the-carpet style. Musicianship of very high caliber!
Evil Louie turns out to be another surprise. It's been the one I've been humming subconsciously after all the shows. Ian Paice is employing an unsual drumpattern in this where he simultaniously plays the ride cymbal with his left hand and the hi-hat with his right hand in alternating 16/4 while also keeping the snare drum going. Nice to see that although he admittedly doesn't practise between tours (naughty!), he still comes up with new things. By the way, did I mention how he worked his ass off at all three shows (as he usually does)? His solo spot in Speed King varied in content and seemed more energetic than most nights on the last tour. What I enjoy most is when he gets a good up-tempo thundering going around the whole kit. No one beats the Guv'nor and in Neumarkt Steve played a bit of Moby Dick after Paicey's solo...
Steve's solo before Smoke On The Water wasn't very long in Neumarkt and even shorter in Hamburg, but in Berlin he went flat out and trippled it! A really attentive audience (except for one drunken idiot!) gave him just the perfect conditions to expand his very atmospheric solo. "I just kept on because they were so quiet" he said afterwards.
Jon's solo in Neumarkt included a bit of Bach Onto This and in Berlin he used a short quote from Concerto - I'm still wondering what his new solo album will be like! His solos on this tour certainly seem very focused. The line "a thousand warriors I have known" with the lights coming up on the crowd is still one of my favorite bits in Perfect Strangers. The song was especially majestic in Berlin, but the reunion could very well be represented in the set by one of a whole bunch of other songs. Speed King and we're in funny land! Steve Morse and Jon Lord generated hugh cheers every night with their incredibly furious chase, and after Paiecy's solo bit Steve tries to match that day's weird voice sound from Gillan! This is always a highly entertaining bit of the show and especially so in Berlin where Ian decided it was time to go fetch a drink right before the song, thus leaving the others unable to carry on. Roger initiated a little cabaret music, which ended when Gillan returned.
Worth a smile or two! Then during the ad-lib bit there were tentative steps towards Not Fade Away, but they managed to "contain the imcompetence", so to speak...
First encore is Any Fule Kno That and it's perfect. At the end Steve takes a long solo which in Neumarkt just kept getting more and more aggressive. Wonderful stuff. The groove of this song and Almost Human is something I could listen to for hours so the prolonged Any Fule Kno That encore was very pleasing. Of course then they went into Highway Star and this was a real winner every night. It's been noted that since Steve joined the band and they started doing this at a slower speed they have diminished its power, but really it's the other way around; Because it's done a tad slower now they're able to perform it that much better, with more precision they can ad more energy into it which in turn makes the song grow into a killer.
Of course Berlin wouldn't let them go just like that. The crowd started chanting the Black Night riff and soon the band returned to pick it up from there. A by the books version it set the seal on a great night. Drum sticks and handfuls of guitar and bass picks went out every night and that really was it. I'm now three shows into a.band.on.tour and there can be but one conclusion;
They are for real and if you miss them you are not!

Hello and thanks for great company:
Evil Louie, Svante, Olle, Benny, Tatti, Helmut, Rafael, Sirpa, Christian, Ian, Linder, Tentgirls, Palle, Herdis...

Rasmus Heide

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