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

New Orleans DP Show Review (12/13/1997)

My wife and I decided to "take a little rice, take a little beans" and "rock and roll down to New Orleans" for the December 13, 1997 show at the House of Blues in New Orleans, LA. We were celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary, and as we initially met by my having sent my wife some of Deep Purple's music -- Ow! Dear Abby alert! -- it was a little appropriate that we celebrate at least ONE anniversary with the guys who got us started. We left Dallas on Friday night, got to New Orleans on Saturday afternoon, and had a great evening at the House of Blues. Great food, and a great place to see a show.

We were leaning up against a railing off to stage left, and we could easily have hit the band with any variety of paper airplanes. Meaning "We had a pretty good spot, and we didn't have any problems seeing all the action onstage." Eagle-eyed viewers could have picked me out as the guy wearing the black "The Battle Rages On" sweatshirt that I picked up at the Corpus Christi gig back in '94. :) My "House of Blue Light" shirt from 1987 STILL fits, too.

The opening band, The Blue Meanies, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, were actually quite good, sounding to me like the Black Crowes with a bit more edge. Who's their guitarist? Geez, was this guy revved up!

Purple's set list, and a few comments:

Into the Fire
Ted the Mechanic
Pictures of Home
Steve Morse Guitar Solo (Including bits of solo from "I'm Not Your Lover")
Black Night
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
Woman from Tokyo
Seventh Heaven
No One Came
Smoke on the Water
Jon Lord Organ Solo
When A Blind Man Cries
Speed King

Perfect Strangers
Highway Star

First off, I was over the moon about the variety in terms of the song selection, and am fairly relieved that the old "Made in Japan" list and its variants have been put to rest after so long. This was my fifth time seeing the band (85, 87, 91(92?), 94, and 97), and I finally got my wish, to hear some of the more obscure stuff like "Bloodsucker" and "No One Came." It was also a real treat to hear them do blazing versions of material from "Purpendicular." I hope these tracks remain as part of the set listing for years to come.

Everybody was looking good and sounding good. Roger's joined Ian in the "bandana on the head" department. Where'd his hat go? :) Onto my highlights:

"Fireball." I was FINALLY close enough to watch Paicey turn up the gas on his bass drums for the intro. Man, is it a pleasure to watch this guy work.

"Into the Fire." This is a song that I really have never cared for, given the cruddy sound of the mix on "In Rock," but I rather enjoyed this one. I'm not a fan of "Pictures of Home," either, but it sure sounded good the other night. Loved Roger's cool bass solo!

"Black Night." Lots of interplay between Ian, Steve, and Jon on this one, almost a foreshadowing of what was to come, later, on "Speed King." BIG difference on the performance of this one now versus how it was done in the 1980s (i.e. not a quick run-through this time).

"Bloodsucker" was introduced as being a "perfect song for the New Orleans culture," and Ian had to go back and explain the joke to Jon. Maybe Anne Rice is a fan? :)

"Woman from Tokyo." FINALLY! THE WHOLE THING! What a treat to hear the bit in the middle, and Steve -really- made this one sound good.

"Seventh Heaven" was introduced as a love song. Knowing that Ian tends to fib in his introductions [heh], this one started off with a "dreamy" keyboard/guitar intro whose texture was quite a bit like UFO's "Love to Love." Then all hell breaks loose with a catchy riff, and Deep Purple's kicking ass again. I look forward to hearing this one on the new album, as it's been a LONG time since I've heard a new, yet-unreleased song from ANYBODY that has caught my attention.

"Speed King" was introduced as a "lullabye," with Ian stating that "I rock my baby to sleep with this song every night." Although the show as a whole was absolutely superb, while watching Lord/Morse/Gillan during this song, I could almost get a feel for what the band was like during the early 1970s, just in terms of raw energy and improvisation. Was that the "Burn" riff I caught when Steve and Jon were trading licks? Later, when Ian and Steve were trading licks, Steve played something that Ian translated into "What the fuck was that?!" No reaction from the crowd on the "New Orleans" reference in the song, though!

"Highway Star." Ian had cause to blow the lines on the "mail it to my brain" verse, as some bozo hopped up onto the stage, only to dive back off into not a sea of people, but maybe a small pond. Ian was watching him the whole time, and looked rather concerned (I sure hope that hard wooden floor felt good!), asking the guy later if he was OK. On the musical side of things, it was an absolute pleasure to watch Steve Morse play the guitar run, note-for-note, and he makes it look so damned easy.

Disappointments? Yeah, just two: No "Rosa's Cantina," which I understand has been played on other dates, and no "Mary Long," which hasn't been played in some time anyways. The only -real- negative is that the mix on Jon's organ is fairly weak, and we had the same complaint back in '94. CRANK UP THE ORGAN! In any event, the show gets an A+, and my hat's off to the band for making #4 a great one! Thanks, guys! Bring it to Texas on the next one, although I'll STILL drive miles to see you!

Steve (and Suzy) Quarrella
Rowlett, TX

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