[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]
Encore: Highway Star/Smoke On the Water
This was a small (2,000-seat) hall. My friend remarked that it looked like his high-school auditorium. We were in the tenth row with perfect visibility of the band.
General impressions: This was an exceptional performance. The sound was good, but a little muddy with bass and drums. A fair amount of the keyboard and guitar work got a little lost in the mix. But the sound quality was great, just mixed a little funny. The band was energetic, happy, quite obviously having a great time. Their playing was right on and many of the songs were presented in the most powerful renditions I'd heard of them.
I fully expected the band to open with "Highway Star." They did the first note of Fireball while flashing the bright bank of lights on the audience it was very much like "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." They then played Fireball faithfully to the studio version, but with added power and energy. "Woman from Tokyo" was the full version, with the quiet bit in the middle, and it was executed beautifully. "When a Blind Man Cries:" Gillan's vocals were, to use a cliche, breathtaking. "Pictures of Home" a highlight because I'd never heard it live before. "Knocking at Your Back Door" was the first song that got the entire audience jumping, running toward the stage and generally behaving with the mayhem of a good Purple crowd. "Anya" was outstanding.
Most of the live recordings I've heard Ian's voice sounds quite a bit different than in the studio. Whether that's equipment, road fatigue or my imagination, it's still the case. But the smooth-but- strong quality of, say, his voice on the studio version of Knocking at Your Back Door was what we heard Friday night. He missed a few lyrics and had a little trouble getting the screams going the first time through on "Child In Time." Other than that, he was outstanding. He ran all around the stage, played the congas, the harmonica. He interacted with the audience quite a bit, even jumping into the security pit to shake hands and accept hugs. He joked with every other member of the band, with the audience. He even accepted a fan's camera to take a picture of him with his friends in the front row. After they played "Anyone's Daughter" he quipped (to paraphrase) "We used to bring Ian out front with a tambourine for this one, but it disturbed too many people so we stopped doing it. He's better back there."
A very happy, ebullient Roger Glover. Skinny as anything. But smiling, laughing, dancing, going right up to the audience and leaning over the crowd as he played. His playing was excellent and he was fun to watch because he was having so much fun.
Yes, folks, he looks older, a lot different. But the poise and the grace are still there. He gave his Hammond a break and didn't rock it at all. His solo kicked ass. The highlight was Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" played faster that I would have thought humanly possible. He spent more time trying not to laugh at Gillan's antics than laughing or smiling, but ended up doing both of those as well. His playing was as good as I've ever heard it.
What can I say? His timing was great, some of his breaks made me wonder how he managed them. He was smiling, laughing at Gillan (we were all laughing at Gillan), and his solo was short enough (I generally hate drum solos) but also very good.
Die-hard Blackmore fans might want to skip this paragraph. I love Ritchie's playing and songwriting ideas as much as anyone. But from all I've heard about the difficulties working with him, and the seemingly deliberate bad behavior, I think the band might actually be better off without him. We'll see when the album comes out. Steve Morse is a smaller guy, unassuming and apparently without attitude or arrogance. And he's good. He played Ritchie's stuff like Ritchie. And everyone in the band seems to like him so much -- I don't give him the credit for energizing the band. Rather, I believe that if they've had this much of a weight lifted from their shoulders -- that their performance and mindset was so improved by Ritchie's leaving, then long live Morse. Killer guitarist, cooperative colleague. He might not be the Man in Black, but he's definitely an asset to this band.
Overall, just a fantastic, energized show by the best in the business. What a night...
Date: Mon, 6 Mar 1995 14:55 EDT
From: Brad <BDEMORANVILL@atcsd.ess.harris.com>
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