Deep Purple
La Cubierta bullring, LeganÚs, Madrid
January 21st 2006

This was a really brilliant concert by a bunch of phenomenal musicians. Unlike last time I caught their show (summer '04) they were all very animated this time around and seemed to be enjoying themselves, a feeling which translated well to the crowd. There was constant joking among themselves which, when added to their improvisations and interplay, gives off the impression that this band is alive, and not just doing their job.

I really enjoyed the fact that they have a new light show and video screens. I was fairly close to the stage but it made it much more enjoyable being able to watch Morse, Paice and Airey in action so up close. This was especially true for Don, his hands always hidden from the audience by the keyboards, now we all could see him burn on that Hammond!

The way the show started was perfect. They had our attention on the video screens, where we'd seen the band appearing backstage one by one making their way to the stage, when all of a sudden the screens went black leaving us in complete darkness, and in a split second the spotlights were revolving all around Paice who furiously blasted the frantic drum intro to "Pictures Of Home". It was exciting as hell and made us all in the crowd roar in approval. Before we knew it, the whole light system went on and there they were, playing the start melody. We sang along with big Ian and it was like a celebration, smiles all round in the band and the audience.

The setlist consisted mostly of songs from their Rapture Of The Deep CD ("Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" was really powerful and "Before Time Began" was simply awesome, worked better than on the CD and the lights job only enhanced it. "Rapture Of The Deep" flloored us.), with a couple from Purpendicular ("Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" and "Ted The Mechanic", both minor classics which I for one am glad to see back in the set). I loved it that they played so much new stuff, I hope they continue this trend. A little visit to the better bits of Bananas or Abandon wouldn't hurt either.

Then of course we had a few oldies: "Black Night", "Smoke On The Water", "Highway Star" (this one's always good, but am I the only one who thinks they could play it a little faster?)... Special mention for a lively "Lazy" and an awesome and thunderous "Space Trucking": it rocked. And extra-special mention goes for the surprise of the evening. As soon as Paice started the intro I started wondering what song could that be. It sounded familiar but I couldn't quite place it, until the image of the cover of In Rock came into my mind. Could it be that they were going to play one of my absolute favourites?? Nah, it can't be... But then the organ screamed and the riff started and bloody hell! It was "Living Wreck" alright!! What a welcome surprise! And they pulled it off brilliantly. Gillan sung it immaculately, I thought he'd avoid a few of the high notes but he didn't and it was a joy. He even screamed along with the organ after each chorus and made it all the more a highlight of the show. I just wish they'd have decided to play it not so early on in the show but hey, it was GREAT anyway!!

As I already said, the band all seemed to be enjoying themselves a good deal throughout the performance, but I was especially pleased with both Morse and Airey. The sound was LOUD and clear and whenever they riffed in unison their sound was abrasive, scorching. A real delight. You could hear everything Steve was doing so clearly it was like he was playing in your living room, which made for a wonderful opportunity for me to marvel at his tone, I loved it. His solo is usually the time when I get a bit bored at the concert (NOT when I watch the DVDs at home, mind you!), but this time the sound he produced had me completely spellbound. I wish I could relive that moment. As for Don, I used to like him before but now he's finally convinced me. He seemed to be very much into it and it was a joy hearing and seeing him play, and how he made the organ growl and scream. The way I see it, he's changed a bit from the Bananas days and I think he's come up with the sounds and style that fits DP like a glove. His playing and choice of sounds on DP's latest CD make me forget I'm not listening to Jon Lord there, and that's saying a lot. Thumbs-up all the way for Don, I loved his playing and his attitude and I do hope he remains in the band a long, long time. I also think big Ian gave one hell of a performance. He was in high spirits and his voice was in great shape, he wasn't shy of the high notes and threw in quite a few screams. He'd encourage the crowd to play "air-organ" when Don solo'd, and looked to be enjoying the concert as much as anyone in the audience was.

One slight disappointment in the show for me was the absence of Paice's solo. To me it is such a joy to just watch the way he plays, such a classy drummer. I thought it would have been a real treat to be able to enjoy his solo up close thanks to the video screens, but no such luck. But all in all, it was an excellent concert and one that I would attend right now and without hesitation if I could. Having listened to their latest CD quite a good few times over the past few months, and having witnessed their performance last Saturday, I think I can say all's well with this band now. They're producing great new material, and they play like the masters they are. Deep Purple are in a good moment now and I would recommend everyone to go see them if you have the chance.

review: Javier De Las Heras