Deep Purple
CIA Arena, Cardiff, April 25th 2007

Well the night started with me not being able to find the four tickets I had purchased back in November for three friends and myself. After much pleading with the lady at Ticketmaster it was apparent that the only way we were going to see Purple that evening was if I bought four more! So after forking out ANOTHER £140 it was a short hop to the cash point and then on our way to Cardiff. As we crossed the bridge I then realised that the £60 I had withdrawn was left at the cash machine……..nice. (sorry dude..)

We got into the gig at around 7:15, and sadly only caught the last 3 songs from Thin Lizzy. I know it is easy to write them of as some sort of glorified tribute act, but being able to see the gentleman that is Scot Gorham play on stage again is reason enough to catch them live. John Sykes does a very able job of vocals and there is no escaping his fantastic ability on guitar. It was also nice to see Tommy Aldridge on drums this time. All in all they sounded great, although I must admit that I wish they would go out as just ‘Lizzy’ or something, as a nod of respect to all past members.

Then onto REO-Styx-Toto….sorry Styx. Well I guess this is a classic example of a marmite band. You either love them, as some clearly did, or you hate them…as I, and it appeared a large section of the crowd did. So if you are in the former camp, best turn away now. How this band could even get onto the bill, let alone appear above Lizzy is beyond me. They epitomise all that is phoney and cliched in American AOR soft rock. The whole show could have come straight out of a Spinal Tap movie, with a bloke on revolving keyboards, hand stands and lots of cries of ‘YOU ARE OOOORRRSUME’. God they were bloody awful. Sorry for the slagging as I know some of the audience seemed to like them. Each to his own.

Now onto the highlight of the evening.

So given I was now down £200 on the night and had just been subjected to an hour of Stinks, sorry Styx, I was ready to be entertained. Deep Purple burst onto the stage, and from the off it was obvious I was not going to be disappointed. This will have been the fifth time I have seen them over the years and I can honestly say I think this was the best (I must also admit to being a huge Blackmore fan, and have seen him twice with the band previously). The whole band played with a confidence and style that can only come with outstanding talent and a sense of true enjoyment. The stage show was extremely well thought out, and I for one really enjoyed the discretely placed cameras giving birds-eye views of Don and Little Ian at times during the set. This made a really exciting visual to accompany the stunning performance coming from the stage. They were also fu’king loud! As my ear drums still remind me this morning.

All in all, a fantastic show from the Purps. Shame about Lizzy being on first and Stumps being on at all.

review: Pete Lewis, photo & scan: Tonny Steenhagen

Can I just say thank you to all the band members for what was a truly outstanding show in Cardiff, the set was brilliant and faultless. True professionals. The support from Thin Lizzy was also brilliant and Styx were awesome. A package not be missed.

I would however, on behalf of all the sensible people in the audience, like to express my apologies to the true gentleman Steve Morse. As in all areas there were a very, very small minority who still call for Richie Blackmore. God knows why. Having seen Purple with both guitarists I can honestly say I have never seen the band look more relaxed and really enjoying themselves, especially Steve who smiled the entire night. There was no animosity and no tantrums, just five brilliant musicians having a good time and doing what they do best, entertaining the fans. As a Deep Purple fan since 1970 I can honestly say that Steve Morse is the best thing to happen to Purple. Blackmore was and still is a wonderful guitarist but he has moved on and so should the so called Purple fans who still call for him. Purple with Richie made some of the best songs ever written but this is a new age for Purple so give the (new) guy and the new music a chance. Whilst I still have immense respect and admiration for Richie and his work, the minority should grow up and give Steve Morse the respect he deserves. If at all possible please pass on my comments to Steve to show we do appreciate him.

The gig itself was excellent, I have no complaints at all, five excellent musicians at the top of their craft. I just hope the band enjoyed the show as much as the audience and that they come back to Cardiff, preferably with a new album to promote but so long as they come back. You guys are the best.

review: Steve Jones, a very happy Rock fan, photo: Asa Spriggs

Wow. What can I say. Faith restored. After seeing two lacklustre performances on previous tours this effort was full of passion and aggression and (because I’m not too old - honestly doctor) it was bloody loud.

I’ve always taken with a pinch of salt people who write reviews and say Gillan was as good as ever but, by crikey, he was spot on tonight. Space Truckin’ has always filled me with dread because I’ve felt it needs the big fellow screaming the last verse and tonight he nailed it (and got the plaudits from the rest of the band for doing so). Other highlights were a 1972 vintage Lazy. Like a vintage car its being lovingly restored to its former glory and now purrs effortlessly and powerfully along.

Don was also a star tonight. Thankfully much higher in the mix than before, he played with real aggression tonight giving the whole set a much beefier sound.

Minor quibbles (and its all they are) are much as everyone else. Why have three bands? Styx have never been across my radar and I would have happily stood through an extra 20 minutes of the excellent Thin Lizzy covers band they’d employed (who were those chaps-they looked awfully familier!!) and 20-30 minutes of Purple. Especially as I can’t see that Styx are pulling in too many extra punters.

And the end of the set didn’t sustain the energy. Smoke On The Water was taken a tad too slowly and only picked up during Steve’s solo and the encores don’t do it for me. Ok guys they were the two hits for a trillion years ago but they’re not the best songs. I’d rather have had Perfect Strangers and Speed King. But hey ho a top night and no mistake.

By the way, took a mate of mine whose first ever gig was Purple at the Albert Hall in 1971 (he’s since turned to the dark side and is a massive Stones fan) who was approaching the gig with trepidation thinking it was going to be a bunch of old men going through the motions (ironic really), and he was blown away. Thought they were fantastic and that Gillan was superb and now he can’t wait for the next tour!

review: Dave Black,
photo : Asa Spriggs

We arrived as Sykes' and Gorham's Thin Lizzy were Back in Town, the last number. We have to realize that those 2 gentlemen would ALSO much prefer Phil to still be there. Lizzy with Lynott were, to me, the only live act to rival Purple and family. So the present line-up is a very authentic tribute to PL, and they sounded great on that one song. John Sykes seemed very impressed with the reception they'd had.

A few words in support of Styx. Yes, I'm one of the pro-Styx punters that night. The first 4 Styx albums were great hard rock showcases, with definite shades of Purple (and Yes). Cornerstone remains the perfect marriage of muscle and melody. The band is nowwithout Dennis de Young, pretty much their Blackmore figure. The presentation was, indeed (as at their headlining show in Bristol 2 years ago), slick ('slyck'?) and corny, but that's showbiz! Kudos to Chuck Panozzo, bassist; he is HIV-positive, so only guests nowadays, but he's got grit aplenty - his twin brother, John, was drummer with Styx until he died from alcohol addiction. Anyway, I think they were great, spoilt only by the very unnecessary inclusion of I am the Walrus. Aaaaaarrrgh! No more Beatles covers, PLEASE! Renegade rocked.

Glad to see Purple went down well with all of us. Yes, Gillan's vocals were superb. Child... would've been a doddle! What can one say about Paice? Just this - he's the best drummer in hard rock, with only Downey (not with Lizzy now, incidentally) on a par. My friend Mike, a fellow left-handed drummer, muttered "Bloody show-off!" during the Hush drum-solo - the ultimate drummer's compliment, he assures me! I fall into the same school as Roger Glover - I'd love a set of pure Mark 7 and 8 numbers - but you don't mind so much when your Highway Nights and Lazy Smokes are played with such verve. Things I Never Said was cracking. (I Got Your Number would get the same sort of response, methinks). Overall - 10/10 for the performance; 8/10 for the setlist. But we're still talking about the greatest band of all-time.

review: Anthony Joel, scan: Tonny Steenhagen

UK tour reviews