Deep Purple – England Tour 2017

December 8, 2017

Some of us wondered for Tim Summer’s sanity when he said he was doing three of the UK shows, but looks like he got the last laugh!  So we nicked (with permission) his tour diary report for the site. Photo : Vince Chong

Roger Glover Manchester 2017 photo Vince Chong

Yes, I know they did a UK tour, but for reasons that had more to do with logistics than xenophobia, I just saw the 3 dates that happened to be in England. Birmingham was the opening night of the tour, followed the next night by Manchester, and then 5 days later there was the London O2 show.
The sound and lighting at the shows was great (the entire backdrop being a giant video screen was cool), and both support bands (Cats in Space and Europe) were worth a look – Cats (featuring one time Ian Gillan guitarist Dean Howard) sort of defy description, whereas Europe are a whole different kettle of fish to that song which they’re so well-known for – they’re big Purple fans too, with singer Joey Tempest eulogising them at all 3 gigs (and at one, confirming that his band is actually named after ‘Made in Europe’).
Purple’s set-list remained largely constant throughout (including the 4 InFinite numbers – yay!) and was pretty well-balanced to my mind – obviously I doubt a set-list exists which would please everybody, with some people grumbling about the amount of new material being played…
New track ‘Time for Bedlam’ opened proceedings, with effects-swathed spoken vocal intro from Ian Gillan sounding much stronger than the rather tentative debut live performances some months back. In fact, it’s a novel (and great) experience for the UK not to be ‘the rehearsal’ shows at the beginning of a world tour (and still to have all the new songs intact).  There was the odd lyrical variation by IG during ‘Bedlam’ performances, but it all rhymed, and t’was ever thus really. A great opening number and there was barely time for the audience to catch their collective breath before Paicey’s flurry of frenzied familiar beats heralded the arrival of ‘Fireball’.  Not an easy song for a man in his 70’s to sing you’d imagine, but Gillan gives it a good go and sounds in mighty fine form where I was standing (all three times).  ‘Bloodsucker’ is next, nice and heavy with every lyric intact and delivered forcefully.  The last verse being sung rather than screamed took nothing away from a great version.  No lyric sheets required either.
Next new track ‘All I Got Is You’ follows on from IG saying hello and apologising for the chairs in the venue (“I ordered sofas and futons”).  The odd reference to his lyric sheets is needed here, and in London Ian G missed his cue at the start, but still managed to dive in at the right place before too long.  The song comes across great live with Don’s space age keyboard solo ringing out loud and clear.  Ian dedicates the next track to “our beloved Jon Lord” to warm applause – ‘Uncommon Man’ is still a beautiful piece, with Steve and Don wringing out the emotion of every note of the extended intro – great that this song at least has survived in the set-list from the ‘Now What?!’ tour. A nice kiss-to-the-rock-n-roll-sky from IG at the end too. ‘The Surprising’ is next, preceded by some different words of introduction from Ian G at each of the 3 shows I saw.  He saved the best until last with a rather hilarious Christmas tale from his childhood before the opening eerie (and loud) notes from Don appear to almost literally knock him sideways.  Great performance, although disappointingly a swathe of the Manchester and London crowds in the floor seats seems to take the slower pace as a cue to sit down… (some of us are getting on a bit Tim. Ed)
A majestic ‘Lazy’ perks the slackers back up again. A massive organ (oo-er) intro with psychedelic lighting effects on the huge screen/backdrop precede a very grand version of the Machine Head classic.  It’s been through a number of permutations over the years when you think about it.  A bit of a centrepiece these days – a worthy inclusion, preceded by an amusing story from Ian degenerates into a staccato vocal noise, which merges seamlessly into Don’s opening flurry of notes.  The last of the new songs follows, ‘Birds of Prey’ – this seems to be the one that Ian Gillan has the most trouble remembering the words to, but his being rooted to the spot, eyes averted (to where the printed lyric sheets are at his feet) kind of suits the serious nature of the lyrics and their delivery.  Steve Morse shines at the end of the song as he builds and builds to a shattering crescendo that is just awesome.  I was a bit worried about Steve even before I saw the Brum show – the BBC footage seemed to show less of the old ever-smiling Steve, and more grimacing that made me fear that the pain in his wrist was getting worse.  I decided in the end that it might just be guitar-hero posturing, but whatever the reason, his playing is thankfully unaffected.  Anyway a favourite from the new album for me, so very happy it’s in the set-list – may it remain so until the death, until the death of T-I-M-E!!
The return of ‘Knocking at Your Back Door’ creates a stir – slowed down a touch which gives the opening something of a grandeur – in fact my first exposure to it (at Birmingham) caused me to think the verses dragged a bit at the new tempo, but by Manchester it had either improved, or I was used to it.  A big solo from Don followed – rather wonderful it was too, with ‘personalised’ touches depending on which city he was in (‘Iron Man’ in Brum, ‘Coronation Street’ in Manchester and ‘Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner’ in…well, you know where). On recent tours (but not this one) Paicey has famously demonstrated his one-handed drum roll; Don goes one better and pulls-off a no-handed keyboard moment.
The inevitable ‘Perfect Strangers’ is next – strands of silver, 1000 illuminated warriors…fabulous stuff.  On paper I’d say that ‘Space Truckin’ had outstayed its welcome in the set-list, and Ian’s over-enthusiastic introduction of it made me fear he wouldn’t have enough voice left to tackle it in any meaningful way, and yet he does and it still manages to pack a punch – very powerful stuff indeed.
Steve is left alone to introduce ‘Smoke’ which he does in a straight forward way – into the riff without preamble.  Except in London that is, when Don Airey can be seen frantically gesturing into the wings for someone to join them on stage; a man in black emerges, carrying a white Strat (or was it cream?), the video screens show him to be a little chubbier than he used to be, yes, it’s …. John Norum of support band Europe, getting to play with his musical heroes (and seeming to love every minute of it).  Steve gracefully urges him to do the solo, which he does in a very respectful way.
The encores began slightly differently at the 3 shows I saw; ‘Goin’ Down’ was the instrumental played as the band returned to the stage at Birmingham, whilst it was ‘Green Onions’ at Manchester and ‘Peter Gunn Theme’ at the London show.  All great, and all curtailed when Paicey’s cymbal beat cued in ‘Hush’.  Great lively version with Don and Steve trading increasingly fast runs part way through.  Roger and Paicey are left on stage at the end for some drum and bass (ha) – essentially Rog’s bass solo briskly backed by the-man-at-the-back, before the rest of the band return for ‘Black Night’ (of course).  An homage to AC/DC is played by Steve at the Manchester show following news of Malcolm Young’s passing, then there’s guitar noodling (including ‘How Many More Times’) before Mr Morse’s call-and-response with the audience which is enthusiastically received at all three of the shows I saw. In London Steve played a snatch of ‘There’s No Place Like Home’, gesturing to the rest of the band.  I’ve heard many gripes over the last few tours about the static nature of the encore numbers, but the fact is that they work, providing a rousing way of bringing the proceedings to an end.
And there we have it – is it the end?  Who knows – the signs are positive that they will carry on a bit longer yet – Ian G even announced from the stage at Birmingham that they might do another studio album.  But as Paicey mentioned in a recent ‘Classic Rock’ Q&A, one of them could keel over and ‘that would be that’. After seeing these shows, I get the impression that it would take something catastrophic like that to stop them.
As always with these road trips, half of the fun is meeting other hardy road warriors along the way, and it was an absolute pleasure to meet quite a few this time out – you know who you are, thank you all.
Until the next time…  Tim Summers

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Tour dates updated

December 6, 2017

Deep Purple’s 2018 schedule continues to grow, so we’ve fully updated the tour diary. It looks as if they’ll be in Europe for much of July, with gigs in Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Czech Republic now announced, plus the previously listed shows in Russia and Ukraine and a festival in Mexico. Big thanks to Lutz Reinert for the extra info.

On the road

December 4, 2017

“The Deep Purple are ready to return on the road in 2018…” according to my web translator. Two new July dates in Italy go on sale on Tuesday: July 9 Verona, Verona Arena , 11 July Nichelino (To), Stupinigi Hunting House.

Do we think the software is working on that last bit? Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi if you’re a native.

Guest stars

December 1, 2017

We missed this during all the DP tour excitement; it’s a Bowie cover tour masterminded by his former pianist Vin Diesel, sorry, Mike Garson. Gillian Glover is one of the musicians involved and persuaded Roger to join in on a version of Jean Genie just at the Brum concert. Oh and a few bars of Black Night! Thanks to Stephen Clare for the flyer.

It’s Chriiiiiistmaaaas

November 27, 2017

Which means Blackmore’s Night are issuing their annual Christmas CD once again.  As well as the tracks from before (perhaps a stronger person than me is keeping tally) you get a few new bonus tracks and cover versions across what is now a double CD set.  Tom Dixon has been keeping up: “The song ‘Wish You Were Here’, which is being promoted as their Christmas single, is a cover version of the Rednex song, plus three brand new bonus tracks: ‘Deck The Halls’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ and ‘Oh Christmas Tree’.”

Christmas in Victorian Era

Here is an announcement

November 24, 2017

I do like this sort of ad hoc stuff which brightens all our lives; no idea who did it (twitter and instagram? No thanks, Facebook is bad enough!) but Danny Fox enjoyed it too and sent us the snap; last night before the O2 Deep Purple show.

Deep Purple tube sign

Surprising

November 19, 2017

Roger Glover, Manchester Arena, November 2017. Photo Vince Chong

Some early DTB jottings on the shows so far [warning – UK set list spoiler at the end.]
Well Manchester for us certainly served to make the fast fading BBC show [incidentally the red button version has now been re-edited to around 15 minutes with an Ian Gillan interview between songs… but better audio] seem even more subdued and muted, and it was a treat to properly experience the group again. Those people who were able to resist watching the TV slot so as not to spoil the actual shows probably made the right call. Every tour we worry it’ll disappoint, but so far they’ve managed to largely over-ride those concerns. There is no doubt Paice’s illness brought the group down for a time and, back on European soil after the disappointment of the later US shows, with a revamped set, they do seem to have bounced back, and as Ian Gillan reportedly said at the first show in Birmingham (that’s IN Birmingham, for all the lost souls who ended up at the Little Mix show by mistake) they’re hoping to eek this Farewell Tour out a little longer.
And on the form they showed at Manchester it would be hard to begrudge them. The opening triple blast is designed to set the scene and by the fourth number in they were really beginning to motor. Curiously it was the double reunion blast of Perfect Strangers and Knocking At Your Back Door which really seemed to hit the nail for me; expected highlight Birds Of prey appeared to falter a touch, though the hard core suggest it was more epic at Birmingham.
In short we thoroughly enjoyed the show even from our eerie up in the gods, and from what people say it was even more in your face on the arena floor. And while it wasn’t a total sell out, it was pretty packed – this mob would have filled the old Ardwick Apollo twice over. So while I used to merrily moan about them not doing the smaller venues, these days we all need a bit more give and take. And the show was also clear proof that doing new tracks isn’t necessarily the kiss of death here; most of the audience knew what was what and just confirms that there is life after 1972 (and it doesn’t have to be Contact Lost!).

Deep Purple

My only real disappointment was the band could not find a moment to thank the staff; after Birds of Prey perhaps? I’m no fan of arenas and avoid them as much as possible, often skipping bands rather than use them. But it takes organisation to run a place like this smoothly, and as we wandered around outside and inside before the show, we couldn’t help think many of the staff here would have been on duty back in May and have to cope with that memory every time they go to work. We had a number of issues finding the right entrance to collect our tickets, and at the security where our friend Vince, who’d just flow in from Canada, kept setting off the alarm, which we eventually realised was steel in his yomping boots! Every member of staff we approached was polite and helpful. Credit where it’s due.
And another star docked for not doing Hip Boots. It’s a bee. And it’s in my bonnet. I’ll just have to crank up the album again, and isn’t that the best response to a show?
Hello to everyone who said hello and good to catch up with so many people (and a big thanks for the photos from Manchester supplied by Vince Chong.) Special thanks to Roger Glover who gave up two hours of his afternoon to be pushed hard on Machine Head (John Humphrey style) for the upcoming book; some things we couldn’t get to the bottom of, other stories emerged which more than made up!
Simon Robinson

Steve Morse 5527

Excellent show (at Birmingham), though they did footle about a bit too much during the encore. Gillan sounded fine when pushed through a massive PA – he gets by on studio recordings, and live in the flesh. Live recordings with him sound… not so good (BBC In concert the night before).
It was all a bit of an adventure for us, we booked hotels at the NEC, and had a look around the complex during the afternoon of the show. Not many Purple fans in evidence though, oddly, quite a few girls with glittery make-up and pink hair extensions. And crowds of people in costume arriving for Comic Con the next day (middle-aged Wonder Woman is not a sight I’ll easily forget…)
At around 5.30 I wandered into the Genting Arena box-office to ask about timings for the evening. A very helpful girl said: “Little Mix will be on stage at 8.30.” Can’t remember my exact reply, after a shocked silence it was something stupid like “Oh… what about Deep Purple?”
Turns out they were at Birmingham Arena, 45 minutes away, somewhere in the city centre. I’d never heard of the venue before. The Arena is NOT well signposted, even when you’re standing outside it on the steps. Apparently it was the Barclaycard Arena until recently, until some clever tit decided it would be less confusing to call it “Arena Birmingham.”
Dave Browne

If it’s any consolation David, we would have done just the same (gone to the NEC Arena that is, not ogled aged female superhero lookalikes!) Seriously, we just go round Birmingham these days, the signage and over complex road system is so inept it’s not worth arguing with them any more.

Ian Gillan, Manchester Arena, November 2017. Photo Vince Chong

Set my expectations (at Manchester) sensibly beforehand (caught a bit of the red button show on TV that morning, so that helped set the dial).
But what a surprise! I thought they were pretty good all-in-all, rather enjoyed it from our vantage point and, much to my surprise, really good sound.
Both me and Mrs. Judd thought the new stuff sounded pretty good live and a big thumbs up to the band for sticking so much into this show from the last two CDs. IG came across more animated and sounding a bit better (to my old ears) than on the beeb, with plenty of between-songs ramblings.
I thought Steve M. took a little while to properly warm up but was playing well later in the set. Where does Rog. get his stamina from? He had to be the most energetic of the lot of them with two or three bass solo type spots, and it is hard to believe Ian P. ever had his health scare of a wee while back, yes his playing isn’t quite as exuberant as yesteryear (and no solo spot), but very sharp.
Don is still all blizzard of notes at the keys (do wish he’d try a bit of less-is-more sometimes) but I thought the organ tone he used was a tad better than at times in the past (not so overly bright but maybe that was just the feed we were getting stage-left).
The massive stage-wide screen behind the band and two side screens where used pretty well (unlike the beeb who seemed to be pointing cameras at the wrong band member quite a lot, here you could see the important detail up there, if you wanted to).
Always enjoy a bit of keyboard/guitar lick trading, we had to wait until Hush for that but still quite fun.
So if that’s my lot for live DP (who knows when/if they’ll be around this neck of the woods again) then, for me, that wasn’t a bad gig to end with. My post-gig smile even survived the seemingly endless wait to get out of the car park.
Peter Judd

Travel tip; never use the M/c Arena car park for a gig. We put ours in the Lowry car park five mins walk away; a tenner for the whole day; security so tight, cars so posh nobody would give our crate a second glance, and no queues out!

Time for Bedlam / Fireball / Bloodsucker / All I Got Is You / Uncommon Man / The Surprising / Lazy / Birds of Prey / Knocking at Your Back Door / Keyboard Solo / Perfect Strangers / Space Truckin’ / Smoke on the Water – Hush / Black Night

Ian Paice, Manchester Arena, November 2017. Photo Vince Chong

In Concert 2017

November 17, 2017

deeppurple

Well that was a fairly good, grownup, “elder statesmen of rock” type performance. [Update – a couple of lucky folk who were there have posted stories in the comments section below]. I do wonder if people tuning in who didn’t know the band thought they’d found a new prog rock outfit at times, and the BBC audio (as least on the red button) was pretty flat and unbalanced which dulled the edge, but the filming was more complex than I expected; the last In Concert I watched (Blondie) was a few years back and most of the cameras were static. This was much more professional. Very strange to actually be watching live as it happens Deep Purple on a UK TV too, I struggle to recall the last time, possibly 1968 when they did the David Frost Show? Lovely looking venue too, all art deco, really worked well with the lighting.
That parpy ELP sound in Uncommon Man still drives me to distraction and All I Got Is You off the new album  is no substitute for Hip Boots, but other than that it was good to have an hour set with so much reunion material (and kicking off with Time For Bedlam from Infinite), and a small but dedicated audience which understood and appreciated it all. The two strongest tracks off Infinite sounded good and it’ll be great to hear these in a concert venue (I guess this show acts as a sort of amuse bouche for the UK tour.) A few bum notes here and there, but mostly they came across pretty well. I liked the way Steve got grungier as the set wore on too. Indeed it was all zipping along and I was quite surprised when they suddenly kicked in to Smoke and realised it was coming to an end! [Update, I checked and it was scheduled for two hours, even the band were confused.] The encore of Hush probably over-ran the radio slot, but otherwise the timing was spot on.  Ian Gillan looked a bit nervy at times – hardly surprising if so –  but his new lyric stand was a smart addition and kept him up to speed. Other rock singers have been doing this lately and wonder if it might become a permanent option?
As far as we can work these things out the show will be viewable now via the BBC iPlayer app for 30 days. Quite why the BBC don’t show these on BBC4 TV in HD is beyond me, seeing as how most nights it’s all repeats!

Sorry Bruce…

November 16, 2017

Deep Purple were a no-show for Ken Bruce this morning and all mention of it on the BBC website vanished. Apparently rather than a special session, the routine is for Ken to go across live to the morning sound check for the In Concert performance, have a quick chat and hear a live track.  Nobody at the BBC had realised Deep Purple don’t do early morning sound checks!  Instead he played ‘Black Night’ studio version and plugged the concert for tonight (and IG’s appearance on Simon Mayo’s ‘Drivetime’ before it), see below.  Jeremy Vine popped up to plug his own show and did a little ‘Smoke on the Water’ gag as well… Radio 2 blasted out Speed King last night at the request of Bruce Dickinson. It sounded stunning, especially compared to much of what they were airing. Certainly didn’t sound 47 years old! Thanks to Tim Summers, our man in the radio car.

Deep Purple take over the BBC!

November 10, 2017

BBC Deep Purple In Concert

BBC Radio 2 have announced a Deep Purple Day on November 16th! Radio 2 is part of the BBC’s national radio network but is now streamed worldwide (and also available on the BBC iPlayer Radio catch-up service.) The highlight of the day is the BBC In Concert appearance which we mentioned before (see post below), but as predicted this LIVE broadcast will also be filmed and available to view via the BBC’s digital Red Button service at the same time as the radio broadcast. However the Red Button service is only available to U.K. audiences who pay for the BBC via a license fee. The footage will then be on the iPlayer for 30 days afterwards, again in the U.K. only.
My thanks to Mark Jones who has been studying his copy of Radio Times magazine and sent us the details. The links are to the programme pages if you want to read a bit more:

Live Deep Purple session in the Ken Bruce show : 09.30-12.00
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09dymwn

Ian Gillan is the guest on Simon Mayo’s drivetime show : 1700-1900
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09dwcdc

Deep Purple live in concert, hosted by Jo Whiley : 2000-2200
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09dwcdf

Also in vision via the BBC Red Button, and available on BBC iPlayer for thirty days after for UK audiences.

Ian Paice says on the BBC website: “Deep Purple are really looking forward to performing for the BBC Radio 2’s In Concert programme. It’s been many years since we did something like this. But through all those years one thing has never changed. Playing live is the only way to capture the spirit of Rock n Roll music, because even 60 years after it reared its wonderful rebellious head that’s what it still is! There is no safety net of the recording machine to ‘fix things later’, you get it right or get it wrong. For the musicians it’s an adrenaline rush, concentration and invention, but most of all fun. That’s why we started doing it when we were kids. We hope you have fun being on the receiving end.”

Full Radio 2 schedule for the day
https://www.bbc.co.uk/schedules/p00fzl8v/2017/11/16

The current European set list is available as a spoiler on the post below.

Deep Purple BBC transcription