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

December 16th, 1997

    On December 16th, 1997, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing DEEP PURPLE live in concert for the very first time. This band has been my favorite since the very first time I heard 'Child in Time,' on an FM station in the early seventies. Everyone alive will gush about how wonderful DP is. I cannot deny this. They will continue to be my favorite band forever. Point in fact... I have only 1 Beatles CD, 0 Stones CD's, and well over 30 DP CD's. In this space I'd like to reflect a totally different aspect. Time.

    I have mixed emotions about the House of Blues, where they performed. It was nothing more than a nice restaraunt with an attached bar. They tell me that it was sold out at I think around 1200 tickets, while the audience looked more like 500 people. What happened to their drawing power? Certainly they still have it. On the other hand, perhaps the band chose this format to be more intimate with their fans. Which I thought was great. If 10 to 15 thousand people showed up, I never would have had a chance to really see the concert. As it was, every "seat" was a great one.

    The band itself has changed over the years.

    Of course the line-up has changed a lot in the last 25 years. We were greatly blessed to have most of the MK2 line-up. Sadly Ritchie Blackmore isn't with them (at the moment). Steve Morse has done a superb job in taking over Ritchie's chores. Morse isn't Blackmore, but he doesn't pretend to be either. He is an entertainer, and an excellent one at that! The rest of our skinny young heroes have been replaced with somebody's grandparents. No disrespect intended. Jon's mane of brown hair was replaced with a full head of white hair pulled back in a pony-tail. Roger's cowboy hat is now a biker bandana that Ian Paice also wears. Ian Gillan has noticably put on a few pounds, and in the last few years, his voice has aged, often lacking the energy that "made" DP. Ian Gillan often displayed a stage presence that reminded me of Joe Cocker.
    The House Of Blues started the show at 9:00 pm, and limited the audience to 21 year-olds and older because of the bar situation. As the band played, I looked around at the audience to see how well the group was received. Deep Purple was out-doing themselves onstage. For the most part Ian Gillan's voice sounded as though he was 20 years younger. Some of the difficult parts vocally, were being met. Some fell a little short, but you know, it didn't matter. The old tunes were great! The audience loved every minute of it.
    The audience, mostly male, mostly balding, mostly grey, and mostly overweight, were having a ball. Air guitars, air drums, vocals, screaming and yelling, beer drinking, and pot smoking. This was truly a bunch that enjoyed the band. Who, with the band, never really caught on that this wasn't the sort of thing that us 41 year-olds or older, don't do any more.
    This was all a direct reflection of what has happened to me in the past tweny-five years. Grey hair in my beard. A waist line that shouldn't be. Time altered me as well. So I stood there, calmly, patiently, drinking it all in. At this concert, the humor, the energy and the excitement were all there. Even though the idiot next to me was a stupid acting old fart, for a short time, I was eighteen again.

Dale Anderson

[ reviews | the highway star ]