Deep Purple - Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham,
7th February 2002

It took 'til Mary Long before things really kicked in for me THEN I remembered just why I was there. The cohesion and sheer power that these old geezers (woops, sorry Steve) achieve really hit the spot.

I was apprehensive about hearing Child In Time again after all these years, it was the M.I.J. version that probably cemented Purple into top slot of my musical affections all those years ago so I've high expectations.. I had no reason to fear. Fireball being my favorite Mk II album, Fools was a particular joy. I see what people mean about the slightly uncomfortable choice of The Aviator, loved it on the Album but doesn't really work here.

So there I was, sat front row centre of the 1st Balcony directly above the mixing desk. "Can't complain about the view from here and the sound should be good" I thought. Right on point 1 but not so sure about point 2. Jon is certainly more prominent in the mix than last UK tour but I still had difficulty picking both Jon AND Steve out at times when Little Ian and Roger were thundering away. But then perhaps my old abused ears aren't up to picking out the upper octaves from this kind of volume anymore. (We both felt the keyboard sound was breaking up at the top end which is a shame after finally getting him audible again, Simon). From my high vantage point I couldn't help noticing how a significant portion of the crowd directly in-front of centre stage remained seated (and seemingly un-engaged) for most of the set, which seemed strange. However I was also struck by the reasonably high proportion of women in the audience, I've got used to the idea of Heavy acts having a predominantly male following but it's a pleasant surprise to see that isn't as strong a bias as I thought.

Big Ian was in real Motor Mouth mode here, almost seemed like the music was squeezed in around his banter at times, and all the more fun for that! Poor old Jon left unable to follow one devastating bit of classic Gillan humour (where we learnt what Ian finds under his duvet of a morning) without a few minutes recovery time.

I enjoyed Well Dressed Guitar on what was my first hearing. It took a minute or two to get the hang of Up the Wall but it was worth it. "Relieved" to hear it's not related to Ian's Caramba Web tail of the "Pissing Contest"! Jon's intro to Perfect Strangers and work in When A Blind Man Cries was wonderful and I don't remember Roger taking such a long (and interesting) solo spot in my limited hearing before either. The humour and sheer sense of fun really haven't worn off for this line up and that has proved a real surprise for me. I'd fully expected this to die away as the years passed and things take on a more mechanical look but if anything they appear to have more enthusiasm for playing together than ever.

Was that Bruce P. with the digital camera (or was it a vid.) pointed right up Jon's nose for most of the 1st half? Who ever they were they eventually got the rude hand signal they deserved.

The only change to the set I noticed was the insertion of Black Night "especially for Ian P." toward the end. Still wish they had the courage and confidence to mix in more newer material though. Found myself noticing the economy of Ian P.'s playing at times, his drum solo was stunning with just the right sense of humour especially the on handed roll.... Amazing. Well over a two hour set I think, but another early start. Highlights? Probably Mary Long and Perfect Strangers I think but a thoroughly good night all round, can't wait for my next at Sheffield.

review: Peter Judd.

My most enjoyable Purple show ever (so far) on sheer musical content - A blinder. The shudder down my spine at the end of When A Blindman Cries had the hairs all over my body standing on end (hence the Don King on acid look after the show), Well Dressed Guitar worked for me tonight despite the majority of the sound from Roger's SWR Goliath speakers being aimed straight at me. The whole thing just had me standing (when people behind weren't telling me to sit down ) awestruck. Smoke.. was again a revelation. I'm actually starting to enjoy it again (wish they'd cut the greatest hits of rock bit and just play it totally straight though) and it finally roused people to their feet. Speed King was a blast, Big Ian stuffing up the setlist by trying to slip Speed King in before Smoke. Oh and another drumstick and a couple of plectrums for my efforts! Smasher. Roll on Harrogate!

review: Martin Ashberry
pics: James Spackman (click the ones with the orange borders to enlarge)

Highlights: an improved performance! The second half of 'Child In Time' worked well, the groove of 'No One Came' was spot on, and Ian's closing vocal on 'Blind Man Cries' was spellbinding. 'Fools' has bucked itself up too. Ian Gillan corpsing Jon Lord just before he was about to do a serious keyboard intro. 'Perfect Strangers' (best of the show for me). Also, surprisingly, the three encore numbers were very powerful and Steve's solo in 'Black Night' (added to the set list) was a treat. Lowlights: the chain run Edwards bar/restaurant opposite the hall - which, as Ian Prentice put it, was noisier than an Ian Paice solo but with none of the finesse; the Wellington Hotel car-park which doesn't bother to sign pedestrian exits; The unadventuous set-list; the flatulent fan a row in front who kept a wide circle of stalls ticket holders aneasthetised; 'Woman From Tokyo' and 'Aviator' which still aren't hitting the spot; the sad sight of Nottingham's Rock City, now Rock City Disco.   Simon, pic: Michael Richards.

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