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!).
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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