Deep Purple - The Brighton Centre, 19th Feb.2002

With the room still humming from the previous night's nu-metal shenanigans of Slipknot, the rafters were in for another pounding from a band who were once named loudest of all time. That was in the early Seventies. What would they be like with modern technology that goes all the way to 11 and beyond?

But the truth is the band deny being a heavy metal act and, certainly, they are more than just a musical juggernaut: Lead singer Ian Gillan's soaring, crying, bluesy voice alone is testimony to that, particularly on the stunning When A Blind Man Cries. When on form, he hits and holds notes singers half his age would struggle to reach. As rock dinosaurs go, Deep Purple have the ability to evolve and are using the current tour, one of their longest in some years, to showcase some new material too. While it was predominantly an audience of 40-somethings, bikers and computer programmers, there were more than a few Limp Bizkit T-shirts to suggest a new generation is discovering one of the major influences on rock music. And they were treated to a roaring display of classics including Speed King, Hush and Perfect Strangers, all of which reminded us of the band's former pre-eminence.

The line-up is as close to the original Deep Purple as egomania will allow: It is the classic Seventies Purple excepting Ritchie Blackmore - but Steve Morse, still known as the 'new boy' after eight years in the band, is mercurial. He also adds a harder edge to the classics, especially Fools and Smoke On The Water, the latter benefiting from an 'evolution of riffs' introduction. Ever-present is the keyboard wizardry of Jon Lord, whose exchanges with Morse, melodies and solos fill out the band's overall sound with their baroque splendour. Underlining proceedings is the thundering rhythm section of Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums), who have been playing together so long they can read each other's minds.

Liberace encouraged Elvis to dress to please an audience so The King took to wearing pink suits and rhinestones. Judging by last night's effort, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen must have done the same for Gillan. From the loudest rock band in the world to the loudest shirts in the world in just 30 short years.

review: Paul Keith

Many thanks to Paul, who has very kindly adapted his original review from the Brighton Evening Argus (Thursday 21st February) especially for the DPAS. Not everyone who read the review agreed with Paul's appraisal of Gillan's performance, but he reckons that 'Ian Gillan sounded fine to me!'

On the same day The Argus also carried a story concerning Ian Gillan, headlined 'Inspirational.' Back in 1982 Ian paid a hospital visit to a critically ill fan, Paul Newman, who had been left in a coma following a car crash. Paul's subsequent recovery was attributed by his family to the music of Deep Purple. He met up with Ian on the day of the 2002 Brighton show for a moving reunion, clutching his copy of the 'Child in Time' autobiography, which mentions the hospital visit.

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