Deep Purple
'Monsters Of Rock', Milton Keynes Bowl
June 3rd 2006

Pictures of Home / Things I Never Said / Hush / Rapture Of The Deep / Strange Kind of Woman / Fireball / When A Blind Man Cries / Lazy / Perfect Strangers / Space Truckin' / Steve, Roger jam ~ Highway Star / Smoke On The Water. Encore Black Night. [set list: Rob Walton]

Purple struck it lucky with fantastic weather and an appreciative crowd. Taking the stage at sunset they stormed through an hour and half (too short as is usual nowadays) of high energy rock - 13 songs by my count and solo spots were kept to a minimum. Bearing in mind the diverse nature of the audience I suppose it was not surprising that they played such a predictable set, but I don’t see how they can complain about being tagged as a ‘Classic Rock’ act when 80%+ of the set included songs recorded over 30 years ago.

Consequently, there was no room for Rapture highlights such as ‘Wrong Man’, ‘Clearly Quite Absurd’ and ‘Junkyard Blues’ although, bizarrely, they did play ‘Things I Never Said’. That said, the band played well, a couple of surprisingly missed cues apart, and the Paice/Glover axis was on top form. A highlight was the extended and revamped ‘Highway Star’, which breathed new life into the classic. Another was a more sparse ‘When a Blind Man Cries’ and a great ‘Rapture of the Deep’.
review: Andy B

Oh boy, what a night and what a performance. Topping the bill and on the back of some decent performances, especially from Thunder, the boys took to the stage and let rip. In playful mood, with Gillan unusually these days appearing in jeans rather than his usual flowing whites and blacks (although remaining bare footed) they launched into Pictures of Home, bringing rapture to a group of Purpleheads near me who gave every impression of not realising the band has been touring over the last many years.

The set was clearly designed to appeal to the masses who might not have been as familiar with the Morse-era band as the rest of us. It certainly did the job with the audience reaction absolutely tip-top. I got the feeling the band were quite overcome with just how good their reception was. And that no doubt influenced the performance because they went from strength to strength. Strange Kind of Woman rocked and Rapture Of The Deep was surprisingly well received considering it will have been unfamiliar to most there. Fireball was interesting not least because Ian, in classic Gillan style, mangled the lyrics but got away with it with a raised eyebrow and a smile! Hush, appearing quite early in the set, was absolutely stonking as were the performances of Lazy and Highway Star. When A Blind Man Cries is one of my all time favourites, and though I have never quite got used to Steve's rather fidlly solos, it was played as well as I have heard this line up play it.

The obligatory Smoke On The Water was roared along to by the by crowd who by now, if they had begun with any doubts, had been fully won over and Black Night was equally well received. They seemed to have fun and so did the massed ranks at the Bowl. To sum up: the following comment from someone to whom I have been "selling" the chaps for years says it all - "Never having seen Deep Purple live before, I just have to say that I think they are one of the best live acts ever. What a performance!" review: Charles Ashmore

And so it began, a 1000+ mile round trip to the resurrected Monsters Of Rock, just like the old days. And as such we decided to do it the hard way. No luxuries for us, it was overnight coach trips and poor personal hygeine all the way.

So, a bright and early arrival in London saw us heading for Paddington for an 8.30am connection to the Milton Keynes Bowl. It seemed ludicrously early, but at least we found the bus and, surprise, surprise, arrived long before the gates were due to open. It was nice to see that some things hadn't changed since the glory days of MoR, with the over zealous mini Hitlers working the gates refusing entry to an array of deadly sandwiches and soft drinks. Heaven forbid I should hurl a chicken sandwich at Ian Gillan! But soon enough we were in, spot claimed on the hill, arrangements made to meet fat friends, so let the rock begin!

Roadstar suffered the usual 'punish the opening act' sound problems, but won over a substantial number of the early arrivers with their old fashioned good time rock and dodgy fake American accents, but the real start was, obviously, the Motor City Madman, the Great Gonzo, Mr Ted Nugent! And he didn't disappoint, beginning with some severe roadie baiting for the bass tech - "I'm gonna skin you and make a dress out of you" - being the star turn. But once the music began it was good. He churned out everything you could want - "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang", "Stranglehold", "Free For All" (hurrah), "Cat Scratch Fever" and more. He was in fine audience rapport fettle, and MoR 2006 was officially underway.

Of course you can always rely on Queensryche to ruin a good party, and by starting with their one good song, "Revolution Calling", it gave me some valuable sleeping / sunburning / admiring the view time before the arrival of Thunder. Now we all know why they were so far up the bill, but they were a real revelation. I've seen them a fair few times over the years, good, bad and indifferent, but they pulled out all the stops, working the audience in tremendous style, getting the party going after the yawnfest that had went before. Now I could tell you how good Journey were, but you probably wouldn't believe me. With only an hour to kick it large, they rattled through more hits than you could shake a very big stick at. Opening with "Separate Ways" and running through "Wheel In The Sky", "Lights", "Any Way You Want It", "Faithfully", "Open Arms" and more. I'm feeling quite faint just thinking about it. A near perfect performance, only marred by Steve Augeris mustard coloured strides. Please! Nothing is worth 25 years for, but seeing Journey now completes my musical mission to see the best bands ever created - and they deserve to be in that pantheon.

Alice Cooper was also in good form, but as the set was nearly identical to his recent tour I didn't pay particularly close attention. Just a truncated mid section differed for the shorter set, but he is a consummate showman, and well deserved the adoring audience reaction. And then it was the headliners. Twilight had arrived, the big screens were switched on, and Deep Purple blasted into "Pictures Of Home". I wandered back up the hill to savour the full effect of the band, crowd and lights, and it was a sight to behold. Then to the strains of "Black Night" it was off to the coach park, only to find out the coach wasn't there, misdirections from the mini Hitlers, hooky t-shirts for a fiver, 20 minutes in the countryside before finding the coach in a layby near the exit - bastard, road works on the M1, the driver getting lost in London, taxi drivers refusing to stop for the dishevelled maniacs leaping at them, getting to the hotel at 2.30am for the shortest stay in a hotel ever, before getting on another coach for the 500 miles home!

Was it worth it? Oh, yes. Of course the glorious weather helped, catching up with old friends, making new ones and once you got past the evil stormtroopers, everything had a feel good, friendly vibe. Here's hoping it was successful enough to warrant a regular return, and special thanks to the two girls (brunette and bluehead - you know who you are) who made the return leg to Edinburgh a much more pleasurable experience. See you next year, at MoR 2007 and SwedenRock 2007!

review: Stuart A Hamilton

A short sharp run-through of the greatest hits. Everyone in great form and looking happy but Gillan struggled with a lot of the songs and was coughing again. The same set list as current tour except cut down to the basics to please a mixed crowd. Only Things I Never Said and Rapture Of The Deep from the Morse era. To me it was a shame that they didn't show off some more non-Blackmore stuff to let everyone know that they are not just rehashing the past. Having said that the crowd loved what they did,even the thick b******ds who kept calling out for Child in Time or Smoke On The Water in-between songs.

review: David May

"Sorry about the all the rain!" says Big Ian! Very funny. I think rain of Knebworth proportions would have been less of a trial than the blazing sunshine we had a the MK Bowl - too damned hot, I didn't see it coming and am sunburnt! Damn, there goes the "pale and interesting" look!

On the bright side (groan) MoR proved to be a mostly very enjoyable day. Roadstar, Thunder and Journey were all impressive and Alice Cooper was as much fun as only Alice Cooper can be. I wish Ted Nugent and Queensryche hadn't bothered though - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

First thoughts when Purple hit the stage were how happy and relaxed they're all looking, especially Gillan. I hope I'm that lively when I'm 60! He was also in very good voice throughout the show although his patter with the crowd seemed unusually forced. Maybe a hint of nerves at such a big, high-profile show? If that was the case then he needn't have worried, Purple were very good and as far as I could tell, very well received by the crowd. Walking out after the show I heard two guys in front of me discussing it: Guy #1 (obviously a fan): So would you go and see Purple again? Guy #2 (obviously not): I would if they're going to be that good! so they've made at least one convert on the day!

Highlights for me were Fireball, which really raced along and the crowd went wild for it, When A Blind Man Cries, which was a pleasant surprise and Space Truckin'. Although it's really hard to pick highlights as everything was very good. Even Black Night sounded a lot less laboured than I remember from the last time I saw them although I think I'd rather have heard Speed King. Two songs from the new album retained, although I think something like Wrong Man would have gone down better than Things I Never Said which, by being a complete unknown to fair proportion of the crowd kind of stalled the show a little from a crowd perspective. No major complaints, though. A great vibe throughout the crowd, which happily mingled kids with pensioners, bikers with goths. A success, I feel!     review: Greg Harrop

WOW!!!!!!!! Didn't think much of the first three bands, but Thunder as usual didn't let us down with an excellent performance, such a great band. Journey, in my opinion a truly underrated band, gave a solid performance. The penultimate act was the legendary Alice Cooper, the crowd going crazy for School's Out and Poison. Then the main event and Purple hit the stage at approx 9.15pm. The sound was really spot on, as it had been all day. They did all the usual numbers which given the age of the audience was only fitting; my feeling was that the audience kind of expected and wanted it at this gig and Purple delivered to perfection. Lazy got the crowd really going, while Perfect Strangers, Highway Star, Space Truckin' and Smoke On The Water got the crowd really hyper. Black Night was the encore. Personally I think Smoke On The Water should have been the encore, but that's only my personal view. A really superb day and the organisers did a great job, a big " I Thankkkkkkkkkk you!" to all those concerned. review: Ashley Cobb - Gloucester, UK.

photos: Andy Worthington

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