Purple plays Zappa

Ian Gillan montreux

Chatting – in broken French and English – with the owner of a small Italian restaurant, who was asking if we were in town for Santana, we had to reply that it was Deep Purple which had brought us here. He suddenly and unexpectedly went all misty eyed, and quietly proclaimed that Montreux was their spiritual home.
He might just have a point.  And last night there was something more than a little special about Smoke On The Water roaring off the stage of the Stravinsky auditorium, literally a stone’s throw from the small roller skating rink it was first laid down in 45 years ago.
And with Frank Zappa’s lad on guitar as well.
We haven’t travelled abroad for a Deep Purple show in almost twenty years, but a combination of circumstances made us push the boat out to do this one. I’d missed the last two UK visits, so it had been a while in any case, and as another fan (hello Sue) said backstage “it’s something you just feel you should do once.”
The set is more or less as the rest of this European tour, and the first third really steamed along for me, with a particularly down and dirty version of Hard Lovin’ Man which I properly enjoyed, and an edgy Bloodsucker too. After this blitz of opening songs, Ian apologised to the sold out crowd. “I’m sorry, that’s all the jazz we know!”
The show lost focus and pace for me a little around Uncommon Man, not a track I felt worked properly live (I’d much rather have the album opener myself), and Hell To Pay still sounds somewhat forced as a song. Which just left Vincent Price as the third of the current album cuts to save the day, which it did.
Ian Gillan coped well and was back to his rambling and often lengthy song introductions which always amaze and amuse in equal measure, while the band overall were a lot looser than when I last saw them, with plenty of little moments of them having fun musically and doodling around which always mark the group out and make life interesting. Perhaps they were not worrying about curfews for once (they didn’t come on until around 10pm) so could please themselves.
Nice version of Lazy and after Don’s keyboard break the group took the set to a conclusion starting with Perfect Strangers, which was good to hear after the rather under-rehearsed version we got from Blackmore just a few weeks back, a tight and powerful Space Truckin’ and – a Frank Zappa instrumental, which took them a little while to get started (Dweezil and Steve sort of taught each other the riff for a couple of minutes, while a roadie wheeled the music on a stand for Don to follow). “A poignant moment for us” was all Ian Gillan had to say, and it was.  In my head was the recollection too that it was the fourth anniversary of Jon Lord’s death.
The encores of Hush and Black Night seemed to go on forever, with Ian Paice and Roger Glover slogging it out for ages, and while some of the trendier members of the audience had long since called it a day, the rest of the Montreux faithful would have been happy for it to go on even longer.
I think this is the first time I’ve been to a rock show with the whole thing relayed via two screens at the side of the stage, a slightly unsettling experience, and I assume the gig will be issued on DVD at some stage as part of what seems to be a full blwon industry which has grown up around the Jazz Festival judging from the large shop in the venue.
But overall it was just great to be back in front of that unique and mostly wonderful racket which is Deep Purple on stage, and we’re glad we made the effort. What our bank manager will say next week is less clear!
It’s 7.00am in the morning as I type this, and I’m not the only one who couldn’t sleep much – a bunch of lads are strolling down the lake front yelling the Smoke lyrics out at the top of their voices…  Looks like that restaurant owner was absolutely right, so we’re off up to the Grand Hote-e-el after breakfast.

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19 Responses to “Purple plays Zappa”

  1. Matti Alakulju Says:

    If I can dig really deep, one more detail here: There’s a box called The Soundboard Series, Australasian Tour 2001, including six shows. In every show during Smoke On The Water, after Ian sings the line ‘Frank Zappa and The Mothers’, Steve plays the main theme of Peaches En Regalia. Just a little snippet, but enough to make me smile big time.

  2. Matti Alakulju Says:

    A little bit of trivia here: Zappa tune Peaches en Regalia was also included on a Dixie Dregs album called California Screamin’ and Dweezil Zappa plays guitar on that track, recorded in 1999. Conceptual continuity for us Zappa freaks.

    • simon robinson Says:

      That’s a nice link Matti; it was great watching the pair of them tuning up together on a few Zappa-esque riffs before they went into it.

  3. AODAN CUNNINGHAM Says:

    Trevor, the Zappa song was Peaches En Regalia, originally released on the Hot Rats album, but several great live versions have been released. Dweezil, not Drexil, Zappa picked up a Grammy award for it a couple of years ago.

  4. IanG Says:

    The Zappa tune is Peaches En Regalia

  5. Leftin Says:

    Simon: Did you happen to see Santana as well as Purple? At school, we always thought Samba Pa Ti was a Purple number! Maybe the guitar/Hammond interplay had something to do with it. Deep Purple and Santana on same bill…

    • simon robinson Says:

      We arrived on the day of their show but were politely informed that it too was totally sold out. Mike Wiklund popped down but said the touts were wanting astronomical prices for tickets.

      • Leftin Says:

        Those blasted touts. Didn’t they lose out with the Rainbow shows? Hope so. Santana, post-Supernatural, have become a real arena act.

      • simon robinson Says:

        Because the touts make so much on the tickets they do sell I guess they can afford to be left with some on their hands. I’ve never seen Carlos, so it would have been good to do so just the once.

  6. Mark Maddock Says:

    When Blackers goes on the radio and admits he couldn’t be arsed to “do much rehearsal” for the his 3-gig world tour, I can’t see how that is preferable to Morse’s approach…of knowing the tunes. Meanwhile another 70 year old is touring Europe and has (up to now) played 64 different songs; Uncle Neil showing them all how it’s done – 3 hours 10 minutes in Helsinki and 3.5 hours in Amsterdam…

  7. Andrew Howard Says:

    What is very obvious is that this was very much a DP gig …but no Blackmore no surprise there. But….a straw poll would surely show Blackers over Morse…look at the numbers played… Say no more!

  8. Trevor Medhurst Says:

    It was superb! But what was the Zappa track played before smoke on the Water? You missed RG telling the crowd to talk amongst themselves whilst Drexel’s amp was set up.

  9. jean-paul marquis Says:

    Thank you Simon… I was very happy to meet you in Montreux!
    The gig was fantastic, and the “after” was crazy!

  10. Mr P Says:

    Great to hear the band rocked the place . I Thank You

  11. davidstoddard55deeppurple6 Says:

    I love the town and must admit with the couple of visits we have made we had no noise at night what so ever, in fact it was ‘spot the night life’!. Enjoy the Grand, I’ve never listened to MH the same way since visiting the place – a blue plaque is required there me thinks.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Hi David. We used some of your pioneering research in planning all this! But part of the reason for the visit was to meet with the people in charge of planning to try and move the idea of marking the building officially. You will laugh if I tell you the ‘other’ Grand Hotel have now admitted that they kept the idea alive that the band played there so they can fleece Japanese tourists!

  12. Rune Olsen Says:

    Nice review as always, Simon, but how it is possible to prefer SM treatment (mistreatment?) of Perfect Strangers with his screaming guitars above RBs less is more approach to the song remains a mystery. To me this is SM’s worst adaption to any RB song by a landslide…

    • simon robinson Says:

      If you want to take me back to 1985,6 in your time machine to see DP do this live, then THOSE were the best versions ever. But the recent Rainbow take was just lacking in majesty. Also on Saturday I noticed Steve has seemed to change his style quite a lot since I last saw him, and it was a great version for me.

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