House of Blues review 1/28
My, my. How those boys can fly!!!
Gathered at what was the most anticipated event of the past 10 years of LA Purpledom were about 500 faithful who were treated to one the most powerful, transcendent DP shows in history. At least, in my personal Purple history, which dates back to seeing them live for the first time in January, 1972, before we had all heard the material from "Machine Head" and then were blown to smithereens by it all. And with me were three guys with whom I saw that 72 show...a bit grayer, perhaps, but surely wiser and no less eager to hear the new songs of 90s DP.
The Wednesday night opening set of a sold-out four night stand had to be a triumphant one for the band, their permanent broad grins indicating they were having even more fun than the rapt audience. It was more party than concert, beginning a mite shakily with a badly mixed "Hush" banging into "Fireball/Into the Fire"... the WHOLE "Into the Fire." "Ted the Mechanic" settled the band down from their LA shakes and at it's conclusion, Paicey absent-mindedly hit the opening drum signature for "Black Night" despite IG's frantic signal. Typical of the band's professional demeanor, they launched into it anyway, with RG mouthing "that's for sure" when Ian came over to sing "Black Night..it's not right" to him. Funny moment for those who were close enough to see it all. Then, they kicked into overdrive to stay with a nasty version of "Bloodsucker." Roger really leads the band at this point, swaggering all over Stage Left in RB's old stomping ground and tossing his natural finish Vigier bass around like a musketeer's sword. He's having a ball, too.
I will take this time to report that at this juncture, Ian Gillan was at his best. "Bloodsucker" tests his voice even on the album version...and here he is, in 1998, TOPPING the recorded vocal!! I will never, EVER slag him again. He is truly The Best, and I'm including Robert Plant here. Then, SIFLS really brought the tempo down so the band and audience could catch their collective breath. Steve Morse has a chance to stretch out here, and his place within the band becomes more apparent. He's the naughty little virtuoso who is half fan/half monster axeman, so his enthusiasm to be playing alongside his idols mixes well with his inherent genius as a guitarist and really drives the band to be more confident than they ever appeared with RB since the 84 reunion at least. They are loose and giddy, because their confidence in Morse handling the guitar chores seems unshakable.
A punchy version of "Woman from Tokayo" (I prefer the LP spelling...ahem!) sets the crowd on its ear again, then they knock them out with "Seventh Heaven" from the upcoming CD. Wow! What a neat surprise...and a new DP classic. The boys had fun playing this one. "No One Came" followed, with IG doing a strobe dance that was half shaman and half Rod Stewart- twirling-the-mikestand and all amazing! He deserves a hand at this point for just SURVIVING this aerobic workout, and the crowd goes wild for him. Jon Lord, shining throughout, really adds the sting and punch to this long- neglected selection. Good choice!!!!
Morse intros "SOTW" and they dive in with all they have. It's a testimony to the dexterity and strength of the show that this song serves merely as "another hit" instead of a show closer.
Things cool down with "When a Blind Man Cries", only to spring to life with Ian's self- described "lullaby," which he calls the next song as he mimes cradling a baby in his arms and smirking all along knowing what's coming: the crash bang opening of "Speed King." And what a version, searing the roof off the House of Blues.
The ecstatic audience screams for more, and they get "Perfect Strangers" and a blistering "Highway Star" that is sung in unison by the crowd with the band. RG and IG then slap as many hands as they can reach and Deep Purple is one tired, satisfied band. Thank you... I thank you!! What a show. Can't wait til Saturday... and already I envy those seeing them Thu. and Fri.
Here's the setlist for those who love to collect them:
Thank you, Ian, Ian, Roger, Jon and Stevo.....