[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]
Well, what a night. I'd heard the rumours of Blackmore quitting on the net before I got to the concert hall, but couldn't quite see this happening, so I wasn't too worried about this.
By Trond J. Strøm
OK, say no more about them. After waiting for about one hour, Deep Purple finally hit the stage at 21:00. There they were, Ian Paice with the weirdest hairdo this side of Elton John (actually, hair transplant struck me more than wig, but I guess the amount of hair rules this out?), and a plain white singlet with the deep, meaningfull inscription Resturante Son Gonxo. Jon Lord, looking rather cool with white hair & moustacho, ponytail and sunglasses (naturally!). Roger Glover with the usual hat, otherwise I seem to remember a purple west + shirt. Ritchie Blackmore luckily had ditched the much dreaded Green Jacket from the 87 tour, and was all in black again. Ian Gillan was wearing a flower-patterened west and one of his baggy trousers.
They charged straight into Highway Star, sounding good, but as others have notice Ian was very low in the mix. Sounded like he did a good job, though, but from where I was standing, the audience was nearly just as audible. Nice solo from Jon, and Ritchie delivered the goods, too. I was starting my struggle towards the stage, having decided that the only way to really enjoy a Purple gig in 1993 was to charge towards the front and go along with it.
Black Night as the second song seemed like a good choice, the crowd singing along to the riff; it seemed like the song lifted the temperature even more from Highway Star. Blackmore started fiddling around a bit towards the end, getting dangerously close to the Long Live Rock'n'Roll riff, but luckily thought better of it before he got there.
"Here's a song about the itch with no name. It's in your trousers, ho-ho", Ian announced in Gillan-French, and they charged into Talk About Love. Both this and the next one, A Twist in the Tale ["A song about the third little piggie. Just the third one." And you wondered why it ended up as "A Twist in the Tail" on the live album? ;-)], sounded ok, but these numbers were a bit anonymous live. Both are faves of mine from the album, though.
Perfect Strangers next, sounding good, but didn't grab me as it did in 1987. Here I must add that this was the absolute highlight of the 1987 gig. Also, I was too close to really enjoy the lasers displayed during the riff.
Then it's into Knocking at your Back Door, sounding good. Long, good soloing from Ritchie, who even trades riffs with Jon during the solo in the middle of the song. No doubt that this is another Ritchie Blackmore than the one I saw in 1987.
Time for the little surprise for most of the crowd, as the band gets together on the left corner of the stage, Ian Paice is introduced as the special guest star on the tambourine, Ritchie sits down on the edge of the drum stand and they start Anyone's Daughter. It's an enjoyable, but a bit sloppy version, probably would have made me go berserk had I not known beforehand that they would be playing it.
Anya next, and what a song this is live. Introduced with a long, quiet interplay between Ritchie and Jon, a bit different to the Romani strumming on the album. Then they charge into the song, and it sounds so much better than on the album. During the solo Ritchie takes the band way down low, and enters a rather long quiet passage again, a bit like in old Rainbow days. Really good, needless to say, and he later even throws in another similiar passage towards the end of the show. He's obviously in a good mood, reacting to the good reception from the crowd. I think he allready had been to the front of the stage shaking hands with people earlier in the show.
The Battle Rages on also sounded good live. Can't remember anything special from this, but I was enjoying myself.
Straight into Lazy, with the usual 80s intro, and still taken at a very fast pace. Into the drum solo after one verse and the harmonica solo, so the reunion lineup never managed to play the secondverse of the song! The drum solo was OK, but didn't leave me with a slack jaw, like the one in 1987 (at the end of The Unwritten Law) did. But that one was bloody marvellous!
"Time for a bit of rock'n'roll. Just a little bit", Ian announced, and the intro to Space Truckin' starts churning out through the PA, with Blackmore crashing in as they play the riff. Sounding good, with Glover taking most of the solo. The song comes to an abrupt end after the solo, and they play a straightforward, short version of Woman From Tokyo, before Paicey starts laying down that impressive drum pattern for Paint it Black. They charge into the song proper, it sounds really good, and Ian sings two or three verses, before it abruptly ends and turns into a keyboard solo. Hang on, wait a second... Hey, that's the good ol' Mandrake Root solo, for chris'sake! Good heavens. And it's a proper solo from Lordy too, not just him playing several well known classics over the "Mandrake Root" beat as it was in the early eighties. Very good, very simillar to the solos he used to do in the early seventies over the same backing. Since I hadn't realized they were doing this, I naturally nearly flipped my lid. They charge into that closing riff from "Mandrake Root", some short soloing from Ritchie, and the show proper is over. Amazing.
I remember at the 1987 show, Ian asked before the last song "Any requests?" Naturally my shouts for "Speed King!" were drowned out in favour of that other one. But this time I was lucky, as Paicey charged straight into it, no announcements, and Big Ian came to the front of the stage singing it as if he'd never had any trouble with this one. "Tutti Frutti was OOOOOH SO ROOTY, rocking to the east and west..." Magic. Ian came across really well on this one of all songs. Into the solo, and Jon starts laying down a piece for Ritchie to reply to, Ritchie turns up from behind the amps and answers him, but then he stops it and goes straight into the Burn riff. Buggers, here was I hoping for a proper trade of solos between the two like on the "Knebworth '85" album! I'm beginning to worry Ritchie is tired of the show, and wants to bring things to an end as soon as possible. He churns out the "Burn" riff for some verses, with the band falling in, and it's straight into the end of the solo and the last verse of the song.
Luckily I was wrong. Ritchie wasn't in a hurry to get off stage at all. It's naturally time for Smoke on the Water. But Ritchie didn't go straight for the classic riff, instead he did a long quiet passage again, before he finally started the song. Naturally all hell was loose in front of the stage by now, and I forgot my reservations towards this song and thought "what the hell?" and joined in the singalong and jumping about. I was a bit surprised when Jon started off the solo, most of it consisting of trading riffs/short solos between him and Ritchie. This also happened in some other songs earlier on, BTW. Well, the usual singalong passage near the end of the song comes, and then back to the riff, except that Ritchie is not playing the riff. He's soloing away and suddenly it's happening. The white Fender flies into the air, and I realize what I'm about to witness... He keeps throwing it upwards a couple of times, catching it, before he finally lets it hit the floor. Plays a little with his feet, then starts pulling the neck against the monitor a couple of meters right in front of me. And finally, yes, he smashes the neck into the side of the PA, giving it a really good bashing before he throws it to the crowds right in front of me. He's off behind the stage, returning to throw a bunch of t-shirts at us, this time they go above me. I think it was the "Deep Purple in Rock" - t-shirts, btw. Then he's gotten another guitar, and the band eventually brings the song to an end.
Except Ritchie, who just won't stop! He continues soloing for a while, I see Ian Gillan standing bewildered in front of the drums wondering what to do, until Ritchie lays the guitar down at the stage front, churning out some sonic sounds as the band says their "thank you"'s, Jon Lord comes to the front of the stage, giving us a deep bow... The band leaves the stage, and the Strat on the monitor just keeps giving us feedback.
Amazing! I understand I'm a lucky man, having gotten to witness my fave band probably doing one of their best performances after the reunion. And now it looks like there won't be any more Mk II shows, with this night's concert in Helsinki (17th November) being the last.
"Sources close to Deep Purple says American guitar hero Joe Satriani is the new replacement", Norwegian papers say today. (The paper continues to say Ritchie's guitar smashing on Monday was a demonstration of how hard he is to work with! How stupid can one get?)
Deep Purple Mark II
June 1969 - 17. November 1993.
Oslo, 17. November 1993.
Trond Jørgen Strøm
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