Deep Purple
Drøbak Festivalen, Norway. 11 August 2001

The second date on DP’s short 2001 European tour was also the second with Don Airey deputizing for the indisposed Jon Lord. Purple headlined a three band line-up in this small Norwegian coastal resort which billed the weekend as “Europe’s Most Picturesque Festival”…watching the sun set over the fjord as DP arrived by luxury powerboat it was hard to disagree!

Given the somewhat unusual situation I think it important to remember that the proportion of folk in the audience who were either aware of or bothered by Jon’s no-show was minimal…the vast majority of people were content to enjoy a superb location and a great band performance. About 5000 folk were concentrated in a football field sized area of grass on the waterfront when Purple took the stage at 10pm for 90 minutes of fun.

Opening with 'Woman From Tokyo' it was clear they were confident in the musical situation they found themselves in. Given that Don was using Jon’s gear (hint of a fresh coat of paint to hide any distinguishing stencils?!) the actual sound of the band was remarkably similar to a show including Jon…it was immediately apparent that Don would have to be judged on technique and presentation…and he looked and sounded remarkably poised given the situation. Rumour has it that he had three weeks' notice that his services may be required plus three days of rehearsal with the band…given the calibre of all parties it isn’t surprising that they carried it off with such success.

'Ted The Mechanic' followed 'Tokyo' and, yes, it was the newest song they did! Soundwise the most noticeable difference I detected was the greater presence of the keyboards…I have felt on previous tours that Steve’s guitar was too loud in the mix, masking Jon’s rhythm work.

A brief statement from Ian to let us know it was Don not Jon and why, then off we went into 'Mary Long' which romped along in much healthier vein than the somewhat hesitant versions tried out on the 1996 Purpendicular tour of the UK…if 'Rat Bat Blue' could be similarly revisited chaps…?

'Lazy' was Don’s first real solo exposure and its was amusing to hear him quote directly from MIJ in his introductory piece. 'No One Came' and 'Fools' zoomed by too fast but sounding fresh, lively and tight…lots of smiles and encouragement for each other...good camaraderie evident. Steve’s 'Well Dressed Guitar' worked well…such is the musicianship available in DP these days it almost seems wasteful to have individual solo spots…far better to keep ‘em all on stage feeding off each other.

Woman From Tokyo / Ted The Mechanic / Mary Long / Lazy / No One Came / Fools / The Well Dressed Guitar / Perfect Strangers / When A Blind Man Cries / Smoke On The Water / Speed King, with encores of Hush and Highway Star.
'Perfect Strangers' exposed Don for a second time and he handled the song very well…it is one that depends on the keyboards so much that any faults would have sent the spirits plummeting…no worries. To close the main set we had 'Speed King', complete with bass and drum solos plus guitar / keyboard duel…Steve giving Don a good workout which he handled very well…once more the impression of enjoyment and fun carries all before it…you can’t help but smile. Encores of 'Hush' and 'Highway Star' finished the evening off in grand style and left them wanting more. Nice to hear 'Hush' restored to former glory …see, Ian, the words weren’t that hard to remember!!! I was sad not to see and hear Jon but I was impressed that our band had risen to the adversity and come out winners…
review, Mark Maddock
photos, Ian Parry-Jones

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