I had a lucky opportunity to see Deep Purple's US tour. My wife booked a holiday to LA to see her family and lo and behold they were playing less than three miles from our hotel. I decided to pay up front for a ticket (lucky I did as they were sold out) and that set me back $67.
The Wiltern is a good venue similar in size to the smaller venues that Purple used for the Purpendicular tour. Very few people bought tee-shirts, not surprising at that prices_ $32 for a Bananas one, $45 for Machine Head.
Thin Lizzy were disappointing. Sykes kept demanding the audience to cheer louder with a few colourful expletives - err... no Mr Sykes you have to earn the cheering. However, Deep Purple were storming. I won't list the playlist as that has been done (and besides I can't remember!) but there were a few numbers from Bananas. All of them went down well, but the majority of the audience were there for the old stuff and they got their money's worth.
Strange Kind Of Woman had a slightly different arrangement which I liked, and Knocking at Your Back Door was good to hear after so long (19 years for me!). Steve Morse and Ian Gillan were playing off each other all night , Ian even did the tap on the opposite shoulder trick as he passed behind Steve and Steve actually fell for it! Musically, they were in fine form. Don was louder in the mix that Jon usually was but still could have been a tad louder. Roger's sound to start off with was crap with a lot of unwanted distortion. He changed guitars after the first number and the distortion went, although whether this was the problem or not I don't know. Overall, I was not impressed with the sound and it should have been better (I had heard it better at the Birmingham NEC!). I was disappointed that Haunted wasn't played, but they did play House Of Pain (and were joined on stage for it by Michael Bradford). I am not a great fan off guest musicians (especially after seeing Iron Maiden prancing about during Smoke On The Water at the Hammersmith Apollo show in 2003 ), but it was fantastic to see Michael jamming along with Purple. Beth Hart also appeared for the backing vocals and did a fine job.
The Machine Head section was a nice touch. They showed a video counting down from 2004 to 1972 (shouldn't it have been 1971?) and as it approached the end they started Highway Star. Absolutely brilliant! The first side of Machine Head was played in track order and was a pure joy, especially Never Before which I have never heard live (unsurprisingly). I think When A Blind Man Cries was next followed by Side 2 in reverse order. Space Truckin' was similar to the album version but the intro was far too short. It was good to hear Don play the album version of the Lazy intro. In fact Don had done his homework and based a lot of his solos around Jon's, so every now and again I recognised little bits of familiar organ solos - a great touch - well done Don!
The encores were Speed King and Hush. Michael Bradford appeared again for Hush and played wah-wah guitar throughout. Although lower in the mix Michael was great and the wah-wah does fit in so well with Hush. Both Michael and Steve tackled the solo, taking alternate bits, awesome!
The video screen showed clips of events which I presume date around 1972 (eg. Vietnam) but then went further back, with a picture of The Beatles circa 1964, Marilyn Monroe etc. Each of the songs was introduced by showing the album label and having the text of the particular song lifted off and displayed full screen, followed by more clips. Unfortunately the disc had the crappy Warner Brothers label one, but that was to be expected for the US. If they do this sort of thing in the UK I hope they use the open ear / Purple Records label and use events from the UK.
All in all a great gig and well worth going. The highlights were too many to mention but Don playing the Machine Head solos and the band jamming with Michael Bradford are just two! Although not a fan of the 'let's play the whole album' thing (I criticised Pink Floyd when they did Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety) it did work well for Purple. Musically, my main gripe was that there was no material from Purplendicular which is in my opinion by far their best reunion album, but they are promoting Bananas and with Machine Head in its entirety there wasn't much time left for anything else. How about all of Purpendicular followed by all of Fireball!
review: Matthew Burbridge, set list: Steve Hunt