Deep Purple

Manchester Apollo
November 10th 2009

"For me the new rule of thumb for the current Deep Purple line up is to miss every other tour. This was the first time since The Astoria show for me, and I indeed did enjoy this gig, much to my surprise. I’m not a guru on set lists but it certainly seemed pretty interesting in comparison to some recent gigs they’ve played. Wasted Sunsets? When was that last played? (by Deep Purple, umm, never. Though they did jam bits of it in 1985)

So what about the issue of “Cabaret” shortened versions of the songs which they are employing a lot? Well apart from missing dearly the end of Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming I thought they worked pretty well. It seems like the band work hard to please lots of different fan elements including the casual fan who is just there to hear the two or three famous tunes, and strange people like me who would like them to play an all Morse set.

They manage to maintain interest in the old songs by interjecting a few different bits into them, even Black Night appears to have gained a syncopation that I’ve never heard before. Don Airey managed to remember to play the Coronation Street theme just like Jon did with Whitesnake in 1979 and always thereafter when in Manchester.

I was looking forward to hearing Wring that Neck but found it a bit berserk in comparison to the 1970’s version – lots of fancy jazz and strange chordal progressions rather than the raw Lord / Blackmore version, but it looked like they were enjoying themselves even if Roger hadn’t a clue what key they were supposed to be playing in (I guess it didn’t matter until the main theme returned).

The band got a great reception – better than I can remember for some years. The Apollo is a really good cosy venue for them to play."

review: John Blackburn

Set list: Highway Star / Things I Never Said / Wrong Man / Strange Kind of Woman / Wasted Sunsets / Rapture Of The Deep / Fireball / Contact Lost / Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming / Well Dressed Guitar / Wring That Neck / No One Came / Don's solo ~ The Battle Rages On / Space Truckin' / Smoke On The Water. Encore : Speed King / Hush / Black Night.

"Great gig from from start to finish, no Perfect Strangers (only the second time I've not seen Purple play it since 1985) . This is not the Deep Purple of old, far from it .This is Deep Purple of the here and now!"

review and set-list: Ian Clements

"I couldn’t work up a whole lot of enthusiasm for the gig in advance, my last two Deep Purple gigs hadn’t exactly filled me with joy. However with ten minutes to go I got an echo of those old feelings of anticipation and excitement. It’s many years since I last visited the Apollo in Manchester and, having suffered the horror that is Sheffield Arena on the previous two tours, it was a delight to discover my stage-left front circle seat gave access to both an excellent view and good clear sound. Here at last was the intimacy and sense of involvement so lacking in those soulless concrete sheds. What a difference it makes to the whole experience.

Even before the band came on I was struck by the absence of drum and keyboard risers, flat on the deck all round tonight then. During the second number I noticed Roger disappeared into the wings twice, startling his technicians and causing much scrabbling about, in search of a solution to some instrument problem or other.

Sitting facing stage-left meant I got to hear Steve clearly for a change, he certainly sent the shivers coursing up my spine with his playing on one occasion early in the set and put in some excellent work, I particularly liked his contribution to Strange Kind of Woman. Remembering the vicious security staff at this venue in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s it was nice to see the bouncers handing out glasses of water to those crushed up against the barriers at the front. Ian G. spotted this and, with some persistence, managed to get security to pass him one too!

Don no longer seems to be using Jon’s “beast”, his present Hammond is missing the base of it’s cabinet sitting instead on an open frame. The organ’s sound is rather too bright for my tastes, almost honky-tonk at times, seemingly lacking the deep growl of previous instruments – or maybe that’s just my old ears. Although I’m not always a fan of Don’s blizzard of notes approach, I loved Don’s and Steve’s interplay during Wring That Neck in particular. Don acknowledged the city he was playing in too as I think I noticed a brief reference the Coronation Street theme during his solo.

Well Dressed Guitar is clearly a huge crowd pleaser, I saw almost as many bouncing fans downstairs as during Smoke, I always think it sits rather oddly in the Purple set but thoroughly enjoy it none the less. I particularly enjoyed Speed King with Ian singing his way through a wonderful medley of old standards in the middle reminding me of tours long gone. He’d scampered round his band mates beforehand whispering in their ears so maybe the old those standards were and extra?

The Battle Rages On sounds incredible, dark, menacing and hugely powerful. I was rather surprised to hear Wasted Sunsets, rather short, they could have made more of that I thought? Ian seemed relieved to have got through the lyrics to reach the end too. I enjoyed the wide spread of material in the set, I was especially pleased to hear something from Purpendicular too, still my favourite Morse era album and I was also surprised to hear so many tracks from Rapture, three I think, I though I’d heard they’d already dropped the lot!

I couldn’t help noticing how thin Ian Gillan. looks. Maybe it’s just those loose fitting cloths he wears on stage these days? He’s still hugely energetic and cheerful, I thought he might actually bounce off the “trampoline in the sky” (a big circular lighting reflector rigged high above his head) at one point as he jumped around. His vocal range seems even more restricted than I recall from previous tours, straining in places to little effect and he seems to wander off and miss the odd note here and there too. I did wonder if he was holding back a bit in order to look after his voice early in this latest batch of gigs as his range seemed to extend as the concert wore on.

Ian P’s playing is very spare these days, again pacing himself (no pun intended) perhaps? No solo but powerful and as precise as ever. Overall I enjoyed it! I came away much happier than I did after gigs on the last two tours. Maybe I’ll pass on future Arena only tours and only trundle along when they stick in the smaller venues in future! Mind you, maybe I shouldn’t take it for granted that there will be many more tours."

review: Peter Judd

"The concert was excellent! I had not seen them since London last year and they sounded fresh and exciting.... old numbers were played with a with a twist and it worked....... Ian's voice held. Good luck to him for the rest of the tour. Roger played with a new venom, Steve's solos were superb, the drums shook your body throughout the set, and finally Don has come of age with the band. He was louder in the mix and sounded fantastic.....even throwing in the Coronation Street theme. Yessss..." r

review: Rob Dykes

"I traveled to the concert with a very positive outlook, having read the reviews of their performances in the summer, especially as a late replacement for Oasis. This is in complete contrast to the last couple of performances I had seen, with the band seeming weary and playing an uninspiring set list.

So, managing to get to the front of the stage there was a palpable feeling of expectation. And the great thing is, the band delivered, big time. From the outset the crowd was very lively and it was clear that the band were feeding off this. Roger Glover and Steve Morse spent most of the night with a look of genuine pleasure on their faces. Ian Gillan also seemed to be in a very good mood, not too much between song banter, but plenty of great singing. His voice was the strongest I have heard it live for some time, and, while he cant reach the really high notes, he performed admirably. And yes, he did manage to forget some of the lyrics, but thats nothing new anyway!

The band opened with a powerful Highway Star, with really pounding bass from Roger. This segued into an excellent rendition of Things I Never Said. The set list was especially pleasing, veering away from the early 70's songs that have been the mainstay of the set for so long. It included a superb rendition of Wasted Sunsets. Gillan claimed that it was the first time it had ever been played live, and afterwards confessed to have been nervous about singing it. He also said it was time to get back into the studio, hopefully in the New Year. Don Airey's solo was not to my taste but did lead into another nice surprise, a very heavy version of The Battle Rages On.

There was a very brief break before the encore of Speed King, Black Night and Hush. As the show closed, they all seemed very pleased with the performance and the crowd reaction. There was no drum solo from Ian Paice, and if anything he was the one performer who was a little understated. So all in all, for me, a welcome return to form. A great set list, the band happy and a full house!"

review: Andy Parr

Deep Purple live reviews, UK 2009