Deep Purple - Oxford Apollo,
10th February 2002

Set list near enough the same as published for Dublin as far as I remember but a few tweaks in the order (Perfect Strangers after Fools, No One Came earlier) - a slight disappointment that it runs so close to the Australasian box list from early last year.

Gillan endeared himself from the off, by powering on stage and launching into the wrong verse of Woman From Tokyo, and generally for the spontaneity and joy in his performance. Highlights? Well, seeing Child in Time close up and so well performed gave shivers up the spine, I just wish Steve hadn't cut his solo short to return to the main tune; Jon's keyboard solo during When A Blind Man Cries was stunning and drew spontaneous applause in the middle of the song and approval from Mr G, making up for the somewhat brief and uninteresting segment at the end of Fools.

Elsewhere, the unusual arangement of The Aviator worked for me, though the guitar sound was poor (Steve kept having trouble with his pedals during the show), especially the unaccompanied vocals which are a departure for Purple - start rehearsing Reynard The Fox boys; Fools is a personal fave, though I still wish Ian would refrain from joining in the solo, when they crash back in I can forgive him though; an extra long guitar parade before Smoke.., including a vocal version of the Kinks' You Really Got Me.

Thumbs up for the encores as well (though more would be nice), first time I've actually seen them doing Hush, and to finish a superb Highway Star, where Steve's guitar has evolved from a dragster to some enormous articulated lorry bearing down on you. The new song needs a few listens to get the head around, coming over a bit like Seventh Heaven on first listen, or like Slow Train the Fireball outtake. Introduction of the night, for The Well Dressed Guitar, "This is a song which Steve wrote while playing that last one, so I haven't had time to do the words."

Downsides, mainly the lack of recent songs, what about Soon Forgotten or Seventh Heaven or Rosa's Cantina? Only five songs which weren't written in the 70s. The bass tended to overwhelm at times, and was generally too loud, though we were sitting in the third row and in line with the amps. It needs taking down a notch or two compared to the others. Paice didn't drive the band in the way he has before; but then he really seems to rally around when the chips are down (1976, 1993), and this is currently a very happy band.

review: Matthew Kean, pics: Nigel Young
(click the ticket to see a larger version)

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