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Manchester Apollo, 10 November 2009
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"?
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
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.
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
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
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
Ian Gillan interview (video)
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