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DEEP PURPLE/Cheap Trick, Manchester MEN
29 November 2011

Deep Purple, photo by Lee Millward

As a lifetime fan of Deep Purple, it is often difficult to stay objective. And yet, as a fan of Everton FC too, I have similarly rejoiced at the tradition but also baulked when things went wrong.

I was there in 1976 when Mark Four finally capitulated. In 2002 I saw them gainfully battle against flu. We've all seen 'Come Hell and High Water' and the tensions on board. Yet I have also witnessed some of the greatest ever rock songs written and performed.

Would this be triumph or adversity?

Cheap Trick, photo by Lee Millward

The resurgent Cheap Trick opened for Purple. An excellent rock n' pop band, these guys' songs don't need an introduction either.

Cheap Trick, photo by Lee Millward

The infectious 'Surrender' was the highlight of the evening, but it brought it home to us the rich vein of creativity which permeated from Cheap Trick in the late 70s and early 80's with a string of international hits. Robin Zander is an amazing singer still. They overran though and had the plugs pulled during the encore, 'Dream Police.'

Deep Purple, photo by Lee Millward

The irony is that Deep Purple, in the words of Roger Glover, are a 'hard working band' and this of course denies them access to the Hall of Fame which incidentally seems to be reserved for those who have retired, deceased or been able to mothball their achievements in a hiatus. The Clash? Come on. A decent five year career of decent hits and then zilch. And if you are doing Zep and the Sabs, you can't exclude Purple.

Anyway off my soap box and back to reality. (I doubt if the founding fathers lose sleep over the issue). This is a 40 year back catalogue to die for. 'Songs that Built Rock' is a justifiable strap line. Ably assisted by the impressive New Philharmonic Orchestra of Frankfurt, the band entered the arena energised and ready for some serious action. We even witnessed a violin solo during 'Lazy.' Founder Jon Lord would approve.

Guitarist, Steve Morse has finally shaken off the badge of "replacement" and provides his own orchestral sound that was at times in breathtaking synergy with the orchestra.

Essentially this is a rejuvenated band with renewed purpose. Guitarist, Steve Morse has finally shaken off the badge of "replacement" and provides his own orchestral sound that was at times in breathtaking synergy with the orchestra. In particular, 'When a Blind Man Cries' was a highly emotional rendition which was preceded with a haunting melodic interlude.

Deep Purple, photo by Lee Millward

Don Airey has come into his own in a big way. I originally got the impression c.2003 that Airey was almost in apology for stepping into Jon Lord's shoes and using the Hammond bequeathed by the founder member. Now the integration is complete. Happy to echo Lordy's unmistakeable genius though in song like 'Lazy' his energy is a true dimension to Purple in 2011.

Deep Purple, photo by Lee Millward

Ian Gillan was in fine form throughout this two hour set. It goes without saying that he isn't 22 anymore. Let's not impose HG Wells on the scenario we have before us.. But the voice that built ten thousand gigs has adapted well to the years. Dressed down in unassuming black, Gillan often cuts an awkward figure on stage but we enjoy his presence, delivery warmth and yes energy.


Paice not Peart is the live master. Purity over pomp.

For 40 years Paice has provided the nuance. What distinguishes Purple songs from also rans in pubs and clubs up and down the country is Paice and Glover's engine room.

Deep Purple, photo by Lee Millward

'Smoke on the Water' is built around a riff and yet the unusual rhythmical marching that we now take for granted takes what could have been a mere album track to legendary status. Tonight it was heartening to see him in industrious mood. Paice not Peart is the live master. Purity over pomp.

Deep Purple, photo by Lee Millward

My own favourite of the evening was 'No One Came' from the Blackmore maligned "Fireball.' album. This was the first song an impressionable 11 year old ever learned the lyrics to. Perceptive, Gillan's satire on the mimic industry in the early 70's pre-dated Floyd's similarly themed 'Have A Cigar,' but the words seem as relevant now as then.

It shows how strong Purple's household favourites are if you can afford to leave out a hit single and track! Shame but, as the man said "leave them wanting more."

'Hush' and 'Black Knight' ended the history masterclass and the 6,000 crowd went home with yet more memories of a great band in immaculate form. This ain't 1972, but it's not Vaudeville either.

"Now where's my Robin Hood outfit?"

Set list and original studio release

Highway Star (Machine Head)/ Hard Lovin' Man (In Rock)/
Maybe I'm a Leo (Machine Head)/ Strange Kinda Woman (single and In Rock bonus track)/ Rapture of the Deep (Rapture of the Deep)/ Woman from Tokyo (Who Do We Think We Are)/ Steve Morse and orchestra 'symphony'/
When a Blind Man Cries (single b side)/ Well Dressed Guitar (Bananas)/ Knocking on Your Back Door (Perfect Strangers and single)/ Lazy (Machine Head)/ No One Came (Fireball)/ Don Airey and orchestra 'symphony'/ Perfect Strangers (Perfect Strangers)/ Space Truckin' (Machine Head)/ Smoke on the Water (Machine Head and single)/ Hush (single)/ Black Night (single)

Review by Keith Thompson

Photos by Lee Millward

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