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Manchester Apollo, 10 November 2009

Photos by Noel Buckley

Ian Gillan, photo by Noel Buckley

With no new product to promote, a "current" album that is four years old (but with the promise of a new album in 2010) were Purple going to rest on former laurels?  Judging by historical set-lists, the element of surprise can sometimes be lacking. 

Opening their European tour with a stinging "Highway Star", the band quickly got into their stride with Ian Gillan's vocals a consistent highpoint throughout as they whipped through 'Things I Never Said' and 'Wrong Man' (both tracks featured on the special tour edition of 'Rapture'). But as they eased into 'Strange Kind Of Woman' and 'Fireball' the old faithfuls only served to emphasise that the post-1993 albums have been patchy. Does anyone remember any tracks off 'Abandon' or 'Bananas"?

Steve Morse, Ian Gillan, photo by Noel Buckley

I am sure that in the fifteen or so years he's been with the band Steve Morse has endeared himself to the fans but for me he was never an obvious choice as Ritchie Blackmore's replacement.

Difficult shoes to fill, maybe, but here I think lies the essence of Purple's problem. Morse is a very competent but seemingly risk-averse player and, I think, Purple still need the edginess that Blackmore supplied in oodles.

A solo spot by Morse perfectly illustrated this frustration, a technically proficient tune that went nowhere although it segued into 'Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming' (from 1996's 'Purpendicular') where he redeemed himself with some typically robust playing. But Morse's playing never moved me emotionally or dazzled with unpredictability. Given that Purple generally end up playing 50 per cent of classic MkII material, it merely underlines Blackmore's absence.

Don Airey, photo by Noel Buckley

Don Airey supplied excellent keyboard support throughout and a solo that fittingly (for the home crowd) referenced "Coronation Street", whilst Roger Glover surprised with a meaty bass solo during the encore that would have befitted a player half his age. Strangely, Ian Paice didn't get a drum solo.

Ian Paice, photo by Noel Buckley

The inclusion of 'Wasted Sunsets' (from 'Perfect Strangers') and 'No One Came' (from 'Fireball') no doubt pleased the hardcore. With more guitar histrionics in "Wring That Neck" and a dip into 1993's 'Battle Rages On' we were jettisoned headlong into a finale that scooped up "Space Truckin'' before a strange, countrified, Morse interlude morphed into "that riff" and again it was the old chestnut "Smoke On The Water" the inevitable set highlight.

Roger Glover, photo by Noel Buckley

An excellent first encore, "Hush" was followed by "Speed King" although I felt the rock n roll medley unnecessary given the band had eschewed the delights of "Child In Time". "Black Night" - enhanced by that Glover solo and some impressive "call and response" interplay from Airey and Morse - brought matters to a close.

A competent performance all round but perhaps a little too safe in the guitar department and lacking the focus (and freshness) of a new album.


Highway Star/ Things I Never Said / Wrong Man / Strange Kind Of Woman / Wasted Sunsets / Rapture Of The Deep / Fireball / Contact Lost (Steve Morse solo)/ Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming / The Well-Dressed Guitar / Wring That Neck / No One Came / Don Airey solo / The Battle Rages On / Space Truckin' / Smoke On The Water / Speed King (incl. Roger Glover solo and rock n roll medley) / Hush / Black Night

Review by David Randall

Photos by Noel Buckley

Deep Purple, photo by Noel Buckley

Review (London)

Ian Gillan interview (video)

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