1976

March 1976

March 12 / 13 1976 • Empire Pool, Wembley.
Support Strapps

Set : Burn / Lady Luck / Getting’ Tighter / Love Child / Smoke On The Water / Lazy / Homeward Strut / This Time Around / Owed To G / Stormbringer – Highway Star

Deep Purple’s Wembley shows appear to have been a nadir for the group and management. Originally the group were to have gone into a summer break agreed on for solo projects, following their lengthy Far East and American tours. British dates were to have happened towards the end of the year. Plans were changed to try and boost the new album and keep fans happy.
The tour was not great, with Glenn and Tommy largely to blame (though in some reviews his performance was singled out for praise). Coverdale decided to leave. What we don’t really know is if the shows hadn’t happened, might the group have stayed together longer.
The Wembley shows were attended by the still powerful music press, who savaged the band in reviews which along with the already mixed reaction to the new line-up from fans would have needed a huge effort to turn around. Glenn and Tommy’s problems were such that this was unlikely to work. Coverdale’s actions were brave in career terms and the summer holiday allowed him, Lord and Paice to prepare for life after Purple. “They all merely go through the motions of a formula which becomes increasingly boring as the set continues. No, they’re not finished. Not quite.” NME reviewer.
Excuses including pleas of jet lag (there were seven days between their last US show and the start of the UK tour) were put out. The NME suggested Tommy had to be carried on stage, though didn’t go into details. Even the stalwarts at Sounds were resigned. “Bitterly disappointing. By the end of the evening we were sorely disillusioned.” Sounds reviewer.
Most opinion has it that the second show was considerably better. Originally they had planned just one concert, but added an extra show due to ticket demand.
Audiences tapes of the second night survive. It’s possible mixer desk cassette tapes also exist. Details of the tour programme are on the DPAS website here.
If you were there and have any comments, or took photos, do get in touch.

Deep Purple Wembley 1976

March 15 1976 • Liverpool Empire Theatre
Support : Strapps.

Set : Burn / Lady Luck / Getting’ Tighter / Love Child / Smoke On The Water / Lazy / Homeward Strut / This Time Around / Owed To G / Stormbringer – Highway Star

This was the infamous final concert of the original line-ups. The band had received some rough reviews for their London shows and faced an uphill struggle. Tommy Bolin didn’t win the fans over and at the end of the concert David Coverdale decided to quit. The concert had sold out by the time I applied for tickets, but luckily I knew the girl doing the press for the tour and she was able to help out. We saw the band arrive direct from Scotland in a couple of hired Ford Granadas. Tommy had fallen asleep and in the dark when the roadie opened the door he fell onto the pavement!

Deep Purple Liverpool Empire Theatre 1976

“Probably the worst concert I ever had the misfortune to see. I had really enjoyed ‘Come Taste The Band’ and whilst the absence of Blackmore was a disappointment for my first Purple gig, I was hopeful of a cracking show. Unfortunately, Hughes’ extended funk diatribe and Bolin’s disastrous solo spot saw the concert plumb the absolute depths. It was brought into further focus with the exhilarating Rainbow Liverpool Empire gig later that year. Felt sorry for Coverdale (who gave it his best shot), Lord and Paice, but the other two members just seemed to be on a different planet. A big, big disappointment.” Gerard Fox

Deep Purple Liverpool 1976

To see more images on the DPAS website from the concert, click here. For details of a poster of live photos from the show click here.

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