[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]
Certified real fans
January 28, 1972 - Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA, USA
Buddy Miles, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple
The night of January 28, 1972 changed my life. Tortured for weeks by newspaper ads heralding the arrival of Deep Purple, Buddy Miles Band and Uriah Heep, I placed my tickets in a strong box and took them out each day, like fine amethysts, to be ogled and carressed. Deep Purple was coming to my fave local hall, Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino, and my friends and I were destined to be up front. The "Swing" was about an hour east of Los Angeles. Many bands, from the Stones to Zeppelin, used it as a dry run before hitting LA. I saw them all, but never did they approach what Deep Purple was about to do onstage. Then 17, I had been a fan since the first album, but a devotee since the arrival of In Rock. I had no idea that I was soon to hear several songs not yet released from Machine Head as well as some destined to be dropped evermore from the setlist. It was a fortunate cusp of scheduling, this strattling of two stage shows by a band that would soon be huge international stars.
My pals and I made sure we were first in line that night. Indeed, we made it right to the lip of the five-foot-high stage, the monitors within our reach and no security between us and the bands. Uriah Heep kicked ass as the opener, with Ken Hensley rocking his Hammond on Easy Livin' and playing some mean slide guitar on Tears In Your Eyes. David Byron was electric, and I was forced to wonder if Gillan could out-sing him. Buddy Miles, fresh from his career -topping stint as Hendrix' drummer for Band Of Gypsies, was a musical palette-cleanser with his hard rocking soul on hits like Them Changes. As good as they were, the headliner was about to reduce the Swing to burning cinders with a set that remains the most powerful and masterful 70 minutes of music I have ever witnessed.
Although some DP chronicleers list the band beginning with Highway Star, they are mistaken. As the lights came down, Blackmore appeared and tore into some hellacious power chords. Just as suddenly, the assault slammed shut and a small spot hit Jon Lord as he noodled the Speed King intro, followed by an explosion of light and bombast as Ian screamed the first verse of Speed King... the long version. Blackmore's solo was riveting. I was directly in front of him, memorizing his Marshall stacks/reel-to-reel tape machine setup. He also had a mike stand in front of him... just to rub across the guitar neck, apparently. I gave him the thumbs up after his solo, and he the did the most remarkable thing: RB leaned down and shook my hand, pick in mouth. Then he stood up and mouthed "watch this" as he ripped into the end of the song doing his signature one-legged splits, behind the back picking and floor tapping his poor Strat. I could have left after that and been just as satisfied.
After the song, IG came over and RB pointed to my group and mouthed to Ian "These are some real fans tonight." Then Ian came over and shook our hands. After that, it became a swirl of majestic (and unbelieveably loud) rock'n'roll done by a very happy band at the peak of their form. I do not remember, at this late date, all the songs or their order. Highlights remain hearing Space Truckin' for the first time, as well as Black Night and Lucille as encores. They gave us two encores that night, ending with more handshakes from TMIB. I will always remember his startling virtuosity, but what spun my young head was his spontaneous generosity and friendliness towards us. It's the reason I return to his music often, and the reason I still love rock n' roll.
I wish you could have been there. But from what I have read and heard over the years, my experience was a typical one from a band that continues to care about, and delight, its fans.
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