Surprising

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

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13 Responses to “Surprising”

  1. John M. Says:

    Glasgow gig was excellent throughout. If that’s their last time here, then they’ve gone out on a high note. I managed to get one of Paicey’s sticks, although I had to pivot over the crash barrier to get it back after I dropped it. I’ll send some pics of the show via email.

  2. Leftin Says:

    Mk.8 playing more Mk.8 songs can only be a good thing. Still think Ted the Mechanic, I Got Your Number, etc., could replace a few of the Mk.2 ’69/’70s standards, but they seem to have found the right sort of balance to keep everyone nearly happy! Really pleased that Ian Paice has recovered so well.

  3. ghcooke Says:

    A rather limp newspaper report on the Manchester gig seemed more concerned about what was not played than what was. I was more than happy with the set (I was delighted) but it seems some wanted just the old material.

    Set me thinking: How about a little game?

    Let’s play, “Let’s make our own set list!”

    Rules are simple. 15 songs (13 + 2 for encore); must include keyboard solo; can’t include anything from Burn / Stormbringer / Come Taste (the present lineup wouldn’t play them anyway); needs to include some from new album; can’t include anything that’s in the set at present; should give everyone on stage a chance to shine.

    Here’s mine (compiled very hastily): Apres Vous; Hard lovin’ man; Strange kinda woman; Paradise Bar; Rapture of the Deep; Sometimes I feel like screaming; Clearly Quite Absurd; Well dressed guitar; Keyboard solo; Pictures of Home; One night in Vegas; Wasted Sunsets; Battle Rages on; (Encore) Woman from Tokyo + Highway Star.

    Granted, takes nothing from the first 3 albums, but includes some of my favourites (Clearly Quite absurd) and some new material (I really liked Paradise Bar)

    • simon robinson Says:

      Sun Goes Down, Almost Human, Anya…

    • dobsonscricket Says:

      Small tour of the City Halls…

      Seventh Heaven, Hip Boots, Demon’s Eye, Vincent Price, Rapture of The Deep, One Night in Vegas, Wasted Sunsets, Solitaire, Living Wreck, Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming, Keyboard Solo, Sun Goes Down, Mitzi Dupree, Place In Line. Encore: Apres Vous (with extended soloing), Highway Star

      All IG albums accounted for.

      • ghcooke Says:

        Thanks for that set list! I’ll have to listen again to some I didn’t include. Glad you’ve included Apres Vous – I thought it was a great live piece when I saw them in Manchester in 2013.

  4. Mark B Says:

    Good morning Simon. I trekked over to Cardiff to see them after initially buying tickets for the O2…….. for the day I am flying out to India. D’Oh! If this is their last hurrah, then the old boys went out with aplomb and their dignity intact. I greatly enjoyed the support acts – Cats In Space, particularly. Europe I had lost touch with over the years but thought they were very entertaining. Their recent material is really heavy and if you can finish your set with The Final Countdown then you can’t really lose, can you? Gillan’s voice travails have been well documented (controversially(?) I would argue his voice has been in decline since the early eighties, when I remember some very horrible hoarse screams at Gillan gigs) but, these days he keeps to a register where he is comfortable. So, save for a few high pitched “yips” what made me wince, he did just fine. Instrumentally, however, there can be no complaints. Glover and Paice are a formidable unit and Airey/Morse are clearly top notch too. Highlights were the new songs, to be honest. Birds of Prey is a fantastic song and Steve Morse did that superb coda absolute justice. After the joy of the main set, it was a little disappointing that the encore of Hush/Black Night was rolled out yet again. They did enliven it with some lovely Morse/Airey exchanges but…… so many splendid songs from the back catalogue could have be played instead. If this is the end, then….. bravo, chaps. I have loved the music for the greater part of my life and I shall miss you.

  5. dobsonscricket Says:

    Having watched the BBC session (and thoroughly enjoyed – suspect because of novelty value – Purple on the TV!), then Birmingham sandwiched in-between making it three shows in three days, I was slightly apprehensive the band may be weary.
    How wrong could I be!!
    They threw themselves into the show with a thumping opening three numbers, then no Strange Kind of Woman. A classic song, but a brave and correct choice to drop out of the set. All I Got Is You followed and comes across well with but IG getting his prompts right plus a bit of swearing at the end. Their intent and desire continued through the next section which included a brilliant Lazy. I love The Surprising and it comes across on stage superbly.
    Not sure my personal favourite from infinite Birds of Prey fully captured similar emotion that it did on record for me, but still a wonderful version. A powerful Knocking At Your Back Door finished the section leading into the keyboard solo. You know what is coming after that as it’s been similar for a decade, but Perfect Strangers (my all-time DP song – being a mere youngster at 44, I appreciate the newer stuff and have been a big supporter of the Morse era – set list gripes aside) was suitably and wonderfully majestic. Space Truckin’ and Smoke followed, with the now ‘regular’ encores to round the night off, although there was a lovely AC/DC tribute by Steve during Black Night.

    All in all it was a great gig and I think the best I have seen from Mk 8. Don and Steve brilliant, Roger and Ian the ultimate rhythm section and still amaze every time. Big Ian generally stuck to his present range and produced an excellent performance. Great sound and a light show fit for the type of venue . The balance of the set seemed appropriate given the name and nature of the tour. An additional 15-20 minutes with a couple more Mk Morse songs would have been ideal for these ears. Both support acts were pretty good – really enjoyed Cats In Space. I only know three Europe songs and they played all of them, although the set was far heavier than I expected.

    The evening was tinged with sadness…

    The fact that this could be the last time I see them (despite my best efforts to convince the Missus to travel to her native Cardiff on Monday!!) but what a tremendous way to go out and a show that will live in the memory. Steve and Don have been brilliant additions to the legacy of our band, although one fan sat behind me obviously felt differently. Health and happiness is paramount to these guys and no one can begrudge them that.

    The other was the venue and you couldn’t help thinking about those horrendous events in May but a huge shout out to the staff on the night. You cannot imagine what some of them have gone and will still be going through, but like the band, they were top class!!

  6. Jeff Breis Says:

    First of all, excellent photos of the guys. Good job!

    I wish the setlist was like this when they played here in the States. It was great to see them, but I wanted to hear more of the newer songs, not Machine Head again.

  7. Graham Cooke Says:

    14th June 1972. My 16th birthday, a blindingly hot day with O level English exams morning and afternoon. My best mate Doug took me into the local town to a record shop a pushed a copy of Machine Head into my hands. “Stop listening to Carole King and James Taylor. Listen to this; it will change your life.” And it did. Fast forward to Friday night and we met up after many years, at Birmingham. Could they still cut it live? The last two albums showed a maturity that I enjoyed greatly. By the end of the Birmingham concert two certain gentlemen of a certain age were in no doubts. We’d been blown away! Great energy, stunning virtuosity and a fine blend of old and new. Great sound and vision. Birds of Prey was my highlight – Steve’s solo was immense. We left with fixed smiles on our faces – they hadn’t let us down – they surpassed expectation. I’m off to Cardiff with my daughter and son tomorrow – bless you Purple!

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