Deep Purple
Lecabettus Theatre, Athens,Greece.
24th & 25th September 2002

24th September

At 9.35pm Deep Purple hit the stage with a cracking Fireball. Gillan was in excellent form from the off and the band sounded great! Woman from Tokyo was very good, but the first real highlight for me was Mary Long; Steveís solo in the middle was just brilliant. My second highlight was Lazy, I was floored by Glover 's bass work throughout the track. In When A Blind Man Cries it was time for Messrs Gillan and Morse to shine, both conjured up stunning performances. Not letting up, Steve turning out another memorable break after the little drum intro in Space Truckin' It was the first time that I'd heard this song performed live, and it was yet another highlight of the show. Don had already proved during The Well Dressed Guitar that he's absolutely the right person to replace Jon, and his solo spot restated the point, including snatches of Difficult To Cure, (sorry, Beethovenís Ninth).... some well known Greek songs and finally the opening chords of Perfect Strangers. Great stuff. This song is a big favorite with Greek audiences, and caused virtual pandemonium in the arena!

At the end of the song two guys walked on stage, one of whom was Stathis Panagitopoulos (from the Greek DPAS). He apologised for interrupting the show, telling us that his companion's girlfriend was in the audience. And then, eventually, the guy asked her to marry him!!!! She said yes (this is surreal...)and the band played some wedding music before hammering into Speed King!

Gloverís solo was amazing, Paiceís too (in fact little Ian was terrific throughout the gig.) Speed King also included old rock'n roll tunes such as High School Hop and Itís Now Or Never. Steveís pre Smoke On The Water 'riff-raff' showcase was a lengthy one, including snatches of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Animals and The Rolling Stonesí Honky Tonk Women, which Ian Gillan emerged to sing along with! The band encored with Hush & Black Night, finally closing the set with Highway Star. The performance was very good, better than last year's Athens date. It seems that they have become a better team and Airey looks more comfortable. After the concert I met Glover backstage, shame the others weren't there, but it was a wonderful experience.

Now to complain! First of all the set list was not adventurous enough.. from last year the only differences were Space Truckin' and Fireball instead of Fools and No One Came. Anyway, after the new album (Gillan said that they will be recording it this winter) things will hopefully change. And where was the crowd?? Only 4000 people to see Deep Purple? Last year the same venue was sold out!! I think that two clashing gigs in the same city were the reason, as well as the fact that they played here last year! I canít say that this was the best Deep Purple gig I have ever witnessed, that would be one from the 2000 tour.....but it was still a great show.

review: Panos Papapanagou  All photos on page: Nikos Angelopoulos, 25th September.

25th September

It rained heavily in the morning, leading us all to believe that the second gig would eventually be cancelled! Fortunately it stopped at noon, the sun appeared and the show went ahead.

Once again, at 9.35pm Deep Purple hit the stage with an excellent rendition of Fireball. Gillanís voice was once again was sounding brilliant, and a few sound problems were put right by the end of the song.

The set list was basically the same as yesterdayís, though Black Night and Hush were played in reverse order. All the highlights were repeated; including Steveís superb solo in Mary Long, and Gillanís improvisation in Space Truckin'. Before Speed King Gillan made a reference to last night's event at the same point in the show, and asked Roger to marry him!

Little Ianís drum solo was outstanding, even better than yesterdayís one. Don Airey played Weiss Heim in his solo spot , as well as clips of Greek songs . The Star Wars theme was there too and his performance throughout the gig was really good. Morse was a little better (just how good can he get???) and in the riff-raff section before Smoke On The Water he bashed out Beatles, Zeppelin, Animals, AC/DC, and Rolling Stones riffs, with Gillan joining in to sing along with the latter. Glover once again astounded me, what a bass player! Before leaving stage Ian Gillan announced that this was the end of a very big tour and proceeded to thank the road crew one by one.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Roger and so enjoyed my evening a little more, but really tonight's gig was if anything a little better! Sadly fo rme these two Deep Purple-filled days are over, and with them the never-ending world tour has finally ended! I canít wait for the new album and to see them play live again!

review: Panos Papapanagou. All photos on page: Nikos Angelopoulos, 25th September.

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