Deep Purple • UK Tour Nov 2011 (update 1)

I can honestly say that the Deep Purple gig tonight in Manchester was not only the best Purple gig that I’ve ever been to but was the best gig I’ve ever been to full stop. Lee Worrall

And that about sums up a lot of the reviews which have been coming in, though older heads have been sounding a note of caution. There are some snippets on the deep-purple.net site and more will be added here as we sift through them. Great to think the band have managed to regain some of the ground lost in recent years. Fingers crossed they can keep this going.

GLASGOW

Returned from the Glasgow gig on Sunday. It was a good job we flew because the ferries were cancelled on the Friday due to the high winds and we wouldn’t have made it! I’m still glowing from the thrill of the concert. I’ve left it a few days to see whether my feelings would mellow but they haven’t. I just loved it and it was fantastic to see the conductor and the orchestra taking part with such enthusiasm. It passed so quickly that I wasn’t able to take it all in and I just wanted to see it all again.
I’m not sure Cheap Trick were a good choice for support and, as far as I was concerned, they outstayed their welcome – my son too thought they played far too long. Our Purple experience wasn’t helped by being sandwiched on both sides and in front by drunks who added to their unsociable behaviour by some needless and ignorant remarks and hollas. Indeed, it’s strange watching a band whose music means so much to you when you are surrounded by punters for whom they are just ‘another gig’.
Still I really enjoyed the concert and thought the orchestra really did bring something special to the event. To be honest, my head is still in a bit of a spin about it all and it’s hard to communicate such a personally uplifting experience.
I’m not sure my fifteen year old son was overly impressed (also he was disappointed not to get to see Alter Bridge and Black Stone Cherry who were playing in Glasgow the following night). All in all though, I’m so glad we went. Vince Budd.

Ian Gillan Deep Purple NEC Arena Birmingham 2011
BIRMINGHAM

It’s the first time I’ve ventured into the Arena for a few years, and the complete revamp since then was impressive; clean, efficient, spacious – yet still utterly soulless! A bit like the crowd too – I only hope an obviously exasperated Rick Neilsen doesn’t think we’re all zombies in Brum and that the muted response to what was a great Cheap Trick set was almost entirely due to the venue cramming in seating up to the front of the stage. There really needs to be a large standing area for people to jig about, dance and be silly, or find a preferred vantage point, otherwise the atmosphere (as tonight) never gets above tepid. And I can’t see anyone ten years from now collecting those awful e-tickets!
Apart from the Lord’s Concerto I’ve never been a big fan of the ‘classical meets rock’ genre. If stuff is written from first principles with an orchestra in mind it’s sometimes worthwhile (as with The Trans Siberian Orchestra) but classic hard rock of Purple’s era needs an uncluttered, aggressive, visceral edge to them to work properly. For me, liberal amounts of brass and strings blur that edge too much, dropping into the contrived cabaret feel of circa 1970’s ‘Pop Proms’ and (ulp!) James Last. For narrow-minded heavy metal philistines like me, a trombone or glockenspiel just isn’t rock ‘n’ roll!
From Highway Star on I personally found it hard simply integrating the two aspects of the performance into a single listening experience. There was too much going on at times – concentrate on the orchestra and you missed those little nuances and impros we all love with Purple, yet concentrate on what the band were doing for more than 5 minutes and the orchestra quickly melted into the background…. or maybe it was just me?
Most of the reviews I’ve read have been positive, unreserved and glowing. That’s fair enough, and as we expect these days Purple were quintessentially Purple, and they delivered a performance well up to the high standards of recent years. But I felt the interface between orchestra and the band only worked sporadically. Rather than proactively improve the flow and feel of the tracks, the accompaniment often either slipped into polite, subservient mode or, at a loss to bring anything extra to the sound, barged in aurally with a string counter-melody or a brass ‘parp’ that added little more than an extra synthesiser player would (or had Don grown a third arm).
People have commented on the sheer power of ‘Perfect Strangers’. I can’t agree; I felt the orchestra bled away that majestic yet essential groove the whole song stands (and falls) on. Yet Contact Lost / When a Blind Man Cries / Well Dressed Guitar’ is where everything did come together excellently, and I loved the manic violin solo in Lazy that breathed some life back into a moribund track.
But enough of my misgivings; I thought the whole show presentation (screens, lighting etc) was top notch (which is unusual for a Purple show!) and after all, the whole enterprise is about fun, and the overriding thing I brought away from the NEC was the sheer sense of fun and enjoyment that emanated from the stage; smiles all round throughout the set, some nice interactions, and it was great to see little moments like the gorgeous blonde cellist gently head-banging to No One Came. And did anyone notice the saxophonist looked like a certain Mr. Robinson? I wonder too if big Ian saw the irony in the fact that even with a professional percussionist giving it a go, you still can’t hear the bongos!!
PS; A friend commented the day after; “Wouldn’t it have been great for Blackmore to have come out for the encore and done ‘Ode to Joy’- just for old time’s sake?” ….ahhh if only!
Roy Davies

Any future contract for a get together with Purple and Blackmore should have a clause specifically FORBIDDING this hoary old routine from being performed Roy!

The kind of magical sound produced by these musicians could only be performed by the greatest band ever to walk the planet. I wasn’t around to see Purple in their 1970s pomp, but I’ve seen them many times since the reunion and this was the best. In fact, it gives me hope for another few good years!
I agree with the Glasgow reviews about the sitting / standing dilemma. This is rock music and many  fans want to stand and ‘rock out’ not sit there arms folded. I appreciate some people want to sit (we’re all getting older), but why can’t we have a standing area, surrounded by seats so that people can do what they want?
Ian Janes (thanks for the photographs Ian).

Roger Glover Deep Purple Birmingham Arena 2011
MANCHESTER

Though I considered it a bit of a gimmick on hearing about it, I thought the orchestra did add a little bit to the experience (given that the set list was mostly the same old same old, it was nice to have a little extra colour added here and there especially to things like Contact Lost and so on). The orchestra were certainly an enthusiastic bunch, heads nodding along when not playing. The conductor had a storming joust with Steve when he pulled out his fiddle at one point too, he can’t half play!
None the less having the orchestra must be a tad
restricting in some ways, having to keep in synch and stifle spontaneity. There’s certainly no sense of danger and no edge to performances these days, no real challenge or fight going on. I suppose that’s as much to do with touring an almost unchanged set for years and years. They desperately need some new material to keep us regulars interested I feel. Lets hope these writing sessions finally bear fruit. I know new material quickly gets dropped but if we could catch them live early on after the release of another CD then that might make it all seem a bit more worthwhile.
I enjoyed hearing Hard Lovin’ Man, it left a lot of the audience non-plussed I couldn’t help noticing though, so I can sort of see why the band resist our appeals to vary the set with some more rarities I suppose.
It was good to hear Ian G. crack a joke or two, I’ve been missing that a bit over recent years. I couldn’t help noticing his singing is even more restricted than the last tour though, smearing over the ends of verses at times and running out of range on occasions, but I suppose that’s the inevitable consequence of pushing
it so hard over the years. I chuckled when he walked slowly to the front of the stage carrying a tiny gong and hammer in order to whack it in time with the percussionist’s whollop of the much bigger real thing behind him.
The venue can’t have been more than 1/3rd (of) capacity but it didn’t feel too bad for a barn. I thought the sound – for me at least – was pretty good, certainly a lot better than at many of my outings to see them. It must be a challenge to balance in the orchestra and
there were moments when Steve’s guitar was hurriedly pushed up in volume, having been kept down to let the orchestra be heard, when the sound man finally realised something interesting was going on.
I quite enjoyed Don’s little solo spot. Less of the sonic sound effects this time and making good use of the orchestra to accompany him while showing off with a bit of Rachmaninov (I think) at one point and the inevitable reference to the Coronation Street theme.
Roger’s solo gets more elaborate every time I see him do one, he seemed full of beans all night. Steve managed to
tingle the old spine briefly once or twice too, Glynis rated his performance as her high point of the night, I think I was hoping for just a tad more from him but he had his moments.
A solid performance all in all, no fireworks, no real highs but no terrible lows either. It’s a bit more than “just going through the motions” but not a whole lot.
Couldn’t help noticing the extraordinarily high number of people hobbling about on sticks and crutches round the venue, gosh the crowd looked an ancient lot (and I’m not leaving myself out of that one). Roger and Ian may say in interviews that they’re seeing loads of youngsters in the crowd these days but I certainly saw precious little evidence of that on Tuesday..!
Peter Judd

I enjoyed da Purps at the Manchester Arena a lot more than I though I might on Tuesday night. A swathe of covered up seating as we made our way down to the floor (or ‘stalls’ – they had seats put in for the occasion) didn’t bode well (there were a lot covered up for Peter Kay the other week too, so maybe more policy than to do with sales). My fears that having an orchestra in tow might slow tempos or make for a ‘rigid’ performance proved unfounded. A very powerful performance with quite a few ‘jammy’ moments too. Band looked happy and relaxed (although Don was intently watching the conductor at some point). Audience were on their feet from the start. Funny to hear Ian chastise a bloke in the crowd for facing the wrong way (“Oi mate, we’re up here you bloody idiot”… that made Paicey laugh a lot).
Hard Lovin’ Man was short on the original lyrics – new ones included “Fell off a cliff, I leaned over, that’s my dog, he’s called Rover”… hmmm, maybe Gillan is feeling that having a man of pensionable age singing about breaking his back with hard lovin’ is a bit like farting in a lift – wrong on many levels.
Most enjoyable Purple show since (at least) the Astoria one at the start of the Rapture tour.
Support Cheap Trick seemed to get the plug pulled on them for playing too many encores (unless this was a nightly ‘ploy’).
Tim Summers

A very enjoyable experience, despite knowing what to expect, which stifles the excitement somewhat – releasing a DVD midtour might not be the best idea? As I entered the arena it was obvious it hadn’t sold out, so the back half sat empty, seats covered with black cloth. The floor crowd stood up as Purple strolled on so no issues with anyone sat down tonight, Gillan even mentioned this, suggesting who needs seats! Everyone performed well, Gillan in good voice, Morse sounding awesome although a bit too down in the mix for my liking; we even had a drum solo!  Stand out for me was Hard Lovin’ Man but then any ‘new’ track would be a standout these days! Morse did no improv prior to Smoke, which I missed, but his solo spot made up with some sublime playing. Overall it was excellent, faultless, running like a well oiled machine, the orchestra giving the ‘old’ songs a big lift!
I bought the tour t-shirt and a mug (yes, they saw me coming), actually same design as 2009 tour with type in silver rather than outlined. Real shame they don’t do programmes, surely this tour justified it? Would have been nice to read up on the story behind the tour and some insight into the orchestra, apart from that I always considered them a nice souvenir.
Amusingly Cheap Trick had time for an extra song and tried for two which ended up with them having the power cut! Not sure if that was a joke or not.
Richard Taylor

LONDON 02 ARENA

So the Purp’s finally got to play the 02.  My first time at this venue.  The sound was good and I could hear all instruments very clearly.  The set was a good one with some excellent playing.  It started with the usual 1-4 tracks including a crackin’ Hard Lovin’ Man, clearly Don has listened to Jon’s advice and played it loud.  It went along at a good pace.  My only concern was Ian Gillan was singing a different song altogether as he rarely sang the original lyrics.  Spoilt what to me was almost the highlight of the evening.
That said Gillan’s voice was in good shape than of recent outings when I’ve seen them.  He seems to have stopped the attempts at screaming and got on with the job in hand, although he did look tired on occasions.  Don was doing lots of tinkering and clearly enjoying more of the spotlight as his stature in the band seems to grow.  Steve was his usual excellent self but shared the lead role with the orchestra.  They really added some good fills and I enjoyed their input.  It was Roger’s birthday and the orchestra duly obliged with an impromptu ‘Happy Birthday’.
They did rattle through the numbers and there was little engagement with the audience, everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves but to me I have to say the spark is fading quickly, I think its time to bow out guys.  I enjoyed it but that’s my lot.  I seem to recall I said that back in early 2000, but here I am; this time though I mean it.  It really is a parody of what Deep Purple should be.  They are still tight but the trouble is they don’t deliver the excitement of the purple shows of past, the chemistry is too safe now, mind you so will I be when I reach my mid late sixties.
Contact Lost… maybe. Danny Fox

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