Date one of the tour starts of badly on a personal note, Man U. only managing a draw with Middlesborough and not the best way to kick-start the evening of your first wedding anniversary. I digress (already) (less digressin', more reviewin' please..)
They take the stage to the pummeling intro to "Fireball". Before we know it, we're into "Things I Never Said", a song which never fails to make me grin and sing along. I still can not understand why this was missed off the original release of "Rapture Of The Deep" but stuff like "Girls Like That" made the cut.
Applause is cut short as the band powers into "Into The Fire", screams reaching (and nearly raising) the roof. Standing right in front of the sound desk towards the back of the hall both this and next cut "Strange Kind Of Woman" are faultless, Ian Paice in particular standing out with his frills and fills fleshing out his otherwise economical use of energy. Less is often more in that area, though tonight that's not Steve's intention as he triplets his way up the neck for the solo, echoing wildly of the acoustically horrible venue with a noticeable ambient reverb making me cup my ears at times. There's a reason why the old venues (Apollos, Gaumonts etc) were built the way they were. (I digress again).
The first Gillan between song chat is preceded by much audience appreciation before we are into "Rapture Of The Deep", followed swiftly by "the freshly manicured, newly laundered Steve Morse" for a jaw dropping solo spot and "Well Dressed Guitar". As the house lights dim and the date rolls from 2007 back to 1972, things take a turn for the....well, I don't know. As a collection of songs, Machine Head is faultless. Played back to back, however, they lose something of their impact. "Highway Star" is first up, pretty close to the original and followed by "Maybe I'm A Leo", nice to hear after all this time but this coupling would maybe have worked better to open the whole set. "Pictures Of Home" and then "Never Before" are over and done, followed by "When A Blind Man Cries" dealt with in almost perfunctory style. Something is missing as they plough through "Smoke On The Water", "Lazy" and "Space Truckin".
House lights up, then down again for "Hush" and "Black Night" but, despite them being rip-roaring versions, I'm already thinking about off-loading tickets for later dates in the tour. "Bored" and "disappointed" are two words I didn't think I'd use again in context to a Purple show, just goes to show how important not just the choice of the song but it's place in the set as to how you come away feeling after a show. Hopefully tomorrow in Manchester will change things for me.........
review: Martin Ashberry, photos: Michael Richards
uk tour reviews