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

Purps in Phoenix

[Phoenix ticket]

My Purple concert experience started with a 400+ mile road trip from New Mexico. After spending the day in Phoenix, decided to stop by Tiffany's Cabaret :) about 7:00 for a pre-show beer. Soon enough it was showtime, so I drove up the street to Celebrity only to find that they were charging $5.00 for parking...I should have walked! Oh well.

Celerity Theatre has a capacity of about 2,000 (?) with a central stage and a downstairs bar. The stage rotates slowly, affording most people a good view and decent sound, though the stage is so small I thought the guys were in danger of tripping over each other at times. The crowd varied in age from about 18-20 to older than the band members themselves. Anybody expecting a "Monsters of Rock" show with flashy lights, smoke, and fancy outfits was probably in for a disappointment. This was just five down-to-earth guys in an intimate setting, playing great rock-and roll.

Frankly, it seemed to take a few songs for the band to hit their stride and for the crowd to get fired up, too. A technical glitch threw Ian G. off during the intro, and he left the stage for a few minutes. The set closely followed the LATO format. There were some cool surprises (such as the full version of "Into the Fire"), though it would have been nice to hear songs like "Burn" and "Stormbringer" in the set. Once the band had roared through "Woman From Tokyo" and the encore of "Perfect Strangers" and "Highway Star," however, the crowd was on its feet, cheering with approval.

The fellows looked trimmed down, happy, and relaxed. Roger especially was very animated, and clearly having a great time. Jon is still the best there is, and better than ever. Steve wowed the crowd in the intimate moments, and Ian P. was as steady as a soldier all night. He makes drumming look effortless! Once he warmed up, Ian G. was in great form, with lots of sweat and energy.

Overall, it was a very good show--not quite with the same spark as their last two live albums, but a solid and satisfying performance nonetheless. Well worth the trip.

D.J. Embry

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