It's a good job I've been off work this week as I've been to 3 gigs and 1 sport event in the last four days and it's really starting to tell on my haggard look. Still I really had to give Deep Purple a shot at impressing me with their brand of classic rock. The O2 is a great venue for a gig but obviously way too ambitious a place to book for Purple. This gig should have probably been held at the 12,000 capacity Wembley Arena. The top sections of the O2 were mostly curtained off and the top section where I was sat, was pretty empty. I would guess the audience to be around 10,000 maximum. Although I must admit I'm glad they booked the O2 as it's a nice venue even though you need a head for heights if your sitting in the upper circle!
California's Rival Sons were the support act and they came on promptly at 7.30 sharp. These guys were pretty much a perfect support for DP in every way shape and form. I know their name quite well but haven't paid too much attention to the music but judging by their performance last night I should be giving them more of a chance. The only thing is I'm not sure ow much I'd enjoy in the studio compared to their live performance which was flawless. They had a perfect sound and it was even pretty quiet, so may they weren't given the full power of the O2 PA system. Any how the band was totally cool throughout their 45 minute set. They have big heavy riffs that remind you of Sabbath and then they have these moody melodic bluesy passages to juxtapose the heaviness.
The singer truly has a wonderful voice and showcased it throughout their set. His soulful flair was really nice to hear and he added such an emotional depth to the songs. Even though I don't really know their material the songs were so easy on the ear with melodies sweeping by you and caressing your ear, yet they could also be quite groovy and heavy when they wanted. Very impressed with these hard rocking Cali boys!
Finally the stage was readied and I actually moved to a better seat than my allotted one as I could barely see Rival Sons from my allocated one. Deep Purple came on to rapturous applause from the all seated old fogey crowd, yes, I actually felt young at a gig! The intro played out and the band launched into the speedy and energetic Highway Star. They sounded in tip top form it must be said with a crystal clear sound mix as well. I felt that Gillan was struggling a little with the higher notes and he was tending to over-scream them in the first song but his band mates were on fire especially Don Airey on keys and Steve Morse on guitar but more on them in a sec.
Bloodsucker was next and it's not a song I recognised. Is it new? I don't know but Gillan was starting to warm up now and his vocals were starting to show their undoubted power. He does look a bit like grandad let loose on the karaoke when you see him up on stage but that's just his look perhaps. The guy still has power to spare although he does have a tendency to over-sing some lines and some of the melody maybe gets lost.
Not being a Purple aficionado apart from the hits, the songs that followed I either haven't heard for years or have never even heard of at all. Vincent Price was great, and interesting tune. Can you believe I've never ever heard that song? After that song followed a super guitar solo from Morse. The guy is a super tasteful guitar wizard. Every note is well crafted and drips with clarity. He's not a 1000 notes a second guy at all. His solo captivated the crowd and soon enough it was time for Don on keys to show his massed ranks of keys to great effect in the song Uncommon Man. Keyboard wizards everywhere take note Don is your master!
The next few songs I didn't really know but they all featured either stellar musicianship from all members including an amazing drum solo from Mr Paice during the end of one song which the set list doesn't indicate, but as drum solos go it was one of the more memorable ones I've witness from the legendary skinbasher. A further keyboard solo followed from Don after his keyboard acrobatics in Uncommon Man his own solo was even more over the top than before. He brought the place down nearly his fingers were ripping here there and everywhere.
From here on in until the end I knew every song thankfully. Perfect Strangers was awesome and I'm glad they played it as I'm not sure it's a live staple or not. It was one of the best received songs of the night from the packed floor that's for sure. Space Truckin' was a grooving sped up tune that got a few people off their feet and dancing down below. An extended intro with a guitar between Morse and Scott Holiday led into the most famous riff in the world and everyone was air guitaring around me and standing up down on the floor beow. The band goes quiet in the middle to allow Gillan to orchestrate the crowd during the chorus and the whole of the O2 was singing of course. A pretty cool site to be a part of and of course my first time hearing Smoke live.
The band waved and said thank yous and left but of course the night was not over as the two song encore of Hush and Black Night followed. Hush is a tune I've never really been that much of a fan of but it's one of their most popular. I don't think they could leave the Arena without playing it. They'd get lynched!
And finally we had a bass solo from Mr. Glover. Everyone else in the band had extended solo sections so we can hardly begrudge the legendary 4 stringer his moment in the spotlight which he took with much aplomb. He had a very nice clean bass tone I must say and had some fancy grooves and bass licks before the full band joins in and Morse plays the iconic riff to Black Night and Gillan joins and everyone is rocking out one last time. The band left to huge cheers and Ian thanked the crowd profusely for turning out and waved the fans goodbye.
For a first time Purple show I must admit I was surprised at how good and vital they sound. I'm not a huge fan of the band or anything but their status as legends is fully cemented and not in any way dented when they put on performances such as these. I hope they keep going for a while yet and maybe I will see them again who knows. Anyone who has doubts about Deep Purple rest assured that they still know how to rock pretty damn hard!
Mars, the Bringer of War
(Gustav Holst song)
Hard Lovin' Man
Strange Kind of Woman
The Well-Dressed Guitar
(with Stephen Bentley-Klein)
Hell to Pay
Smoke on the Water
(with Scott Holiday)
(Joe South cover) (with "Green Onions" by Booker… more )