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

Atlanta HOB Review

I'm back from an outstanding opening night of the "House of Blues, Light" tour and thought I'd put in a few words about the show.

Demographics and ecetera:
The HOB itself is a old church, actually a pretty cool venue I thought. Strangely painted and with 3 levels of seating, it has a mood all it's own. I'd say capacity is around the 2000 mark and although it was not full or SRO, it was close...probably 80-90% full for sure. The crowd averaged in their 30's (*high* thirties!); the extremes I saw were a little boy (~8) with his dad and a white-haired gentleman who looked like my dad, so that places him in the 60-70 range.

The opening act was "the Chaotic Past" from NY. A 3-piece, they weren't too bad; I liked their 4th song (nice riff) and their last song, but much of the rest just blended together. They came on promptly at 9:00 pm and played 10 songs for 45 min.

After moving the equipment off and doing some checks (Mickey Lee Soule checking Lord's keys...), the lights went out at 10:05 for DP. Without any fanfare, the guys walked right out and a bit of background keyboard sounds led right into
A solid opener, although it seemed a bit "laid-back" to me. The crowd was into it from the start and was singing along. This led to
I didn't hear the A/C unit; IP just started right into the drum intro. This was much stronger and the band was really getting into gear quickly. Not having seen Morse before, I was struck by how he's constantly smiling at everyone and having a good time; strangely, I find myself back in 1981 for a moment watching Randy Rhoads with Ozzy. Yes, that's it! *That's* who he reminds me of. (looks I mean, not guitar sound or technique...) Later, on the way home, my friends and I discuss this and when I mention the RR comparison, they all have the same revelation! Anyone else thought/noticed this?
I was really pumped to get the *full* version of
     Into the Fire
next, and IG was really hitting the screams well. In general, Gillan's voice was very good throughout the night. I caught a few bum notes here and there, but he knew it and usually gave a funny face or stuck out his tongue to show us his "distaste".
     Ted the Mechanic
was next, the crowd pumping their arms in the air. On the floor near where I was, there were a lot of fans who *really* jammed to the _|_ material - I was somewhat surprised given their ages (...I figured that they were longtime fans who'd bias to the older stuff).
     Pictures of Home
came next and I was starting to get a little concerned that the set was going to resemble the LatO set too much (I was hoping we'd see a lot of variation now that RB's gone). I'll spoil the suspense by telling you now that my concern came true - oh well. A
     Steve Morse solo
was next; I found it very interesting that the other band members hung around on or near the stage watching him instead of "taking off" and not being interested. It gave me a good "band" feeling anyway... Towards the end they all joined in with a little jam - which was really nice - and this let into
     Black Night
A very smooth version - BN is not one of my favorite DP songs - but I really got into this, and Morse was up on the organ riser trading licks with Lord during the "interplay" segment.
was next, and I really got into this. I hadn't expected to hear it; perhaps that made me like it all the more. The first of the "new" songs was next, with IG announcing it as "this is the first time we've played this" - it was called
     Any Fool Knows Why
A funny thing was that it appeared as though Gillan forgot the lyrics midway through; he and RG had a little laugh about it while Roger was "mouthing" the lyrics to him. I don't think the crowd thought much one way or another.
     Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
came next, reducing the crowd to whispers early on, a very nice version. IG was *skipping* around the stage - I don't recall ever seeing that before! We were now at the 1hr point into the show, and next came
     Woman From Tokyo
The middle section here was just *beautiful*; IG's voice was strong (unlike LatO, IMO) and Lord and Morse put together a gorgeous segue back into the main riff. Gillan announced the next song as "a passionate love song," and I started to think Speed King was upcoming (and the end of the show *GASP*...), but it was another new one...called
     Seventh Heaven
This one was *heavy* (at least compared to Any Fool Knows Why), so I suppose Gillan was having a joke on us. Since I couldn't make out the lyrics very well, I don't know if love was involved or not!
     Rosa's Cantina
came next, and I noticed an odd "division" amongst the crowd: the women were all dancing and shaking about and gettin into the song...and the guys were just kindof standing around! Obviously I noticed this since I was "standing around" too (yeah, I'm not a Rosa's fan), but I was surprised to see such an even spilt across gender.
     No One Came
followed, and there was a great strobe light effect at the very end. Gillan was a crazy man during that - it was cool. A short Steve Morse solo followed, and this led directly into
     Smoke on the Water
with everyone singing along. The ending led into a
     Jon Lord solo
and I was very dissapointed that it was only a couple of minutes long, and not very distinguished at that. No slight intended at Jon here, he can obviously do whatever he wants....but I got the impression that maybe he just "wasn't in the mood" or something. Perhaps I'm just spoiled by the old 10-minute versions he's done in the past! Towards the end, Morse joined in with Lord and this led into
     When a Blind Man Cries
A beautiful verison - very nice, similar to LatO, and it went over well with the crowd...even a few lighters making an appearance. Afterward, IG tells us that "here's another one - a lullaby to put your baby daughter to sleep every night"...and so
     Speed King
comes crashing down - really a stormin' version ("stormin' " is what I wrote on my notes...). It was great throughout and IG/SM have a little duel towards the end. This wraps up the show proper, and I look to see that it's 11:55pm. A couple minutes of cheers bring the band back, and an outstanding version of
     Perfect Strangers
really stands everyone on their heads. And not to be outdone, an even *more* frenzied verion of
     Highway Star
really levels the place. Wow. I'm speechless, and my friends and I are left standing there in a daze just kindof looking at each other. Nice move to take out "Hey Cisco" from between those two! It's much better to keep the intensity at the same level throught the encore...
I really thought the band might return for another encore, but the house lights come up and it's over.
But, *what* a show! Great, outstanding, Thaaaaankkk You!

Tom Inman

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