Live Review and Photos credit: Reg Richardson
It was the autumn of 1971, Fireball was one of the first albums I ever bought. So, I hoped the band would play the title track off that album tonight; I wasn’t disappointed, Fireball was the second song on tonight’s setlist.
This show was part of The Long Goodbye tour giving the expectation that it could also be the band’s last. The current band is Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums) from the 1971 line-up, along with Steve Morse (guitar) and Don Airey (keyboards).
Tonight the band spanned the entire discography timeline with songs taken from the new album, Infinite, released in July this year, as well as the band’s first album, Shades of Deep Purple, released in 1968, and several more in between. The earlier material always seems to be the most popular and so with songs taken from Shades of Deep Purple, Deep Purple in Rock, Fireball and Machine Head I was a happy listener. Musically, the band could not be faulted, the guitars were crisp, the bass deep, the drums snappy and the keyboards sublime. Gillan’s distinctive voice came through time after time and if I had one criticism, or perhaps it was more a disappointment, then it was that the vocal power was no longer there. The guitar may have screamed but the vocals didn’t and at times they appeared to be a little strained. I don’t want to take anything away from the performance though because, on balance, it was excellent.
Gillan threw out a few little innuendo’s, which could have been done without given the current focus on things, but the band was superb. Included in the set was Uncommon Man, a track written as a tribute to keyboard maestro Jon Lord who died in 2012, a year before the track was released on Now What? The track has the unmistakable sound of ELP and was based on ELP’s Fanfare for the Common Man.
A Don Airey keyboard solo, which split two songs from 1984’s Perfect Strangers, also paid tribute to local legends Black Sabbath as it included a sample from Iron Man, a very nice touch indeed.
The main set had the audience, who were all seated, on their feet before the end of the first song and they were still standing as the set concluded with Smoke on the Water.
The encore kicked off with the band’s oldest song of the night, Hush, a Joe South cover, taken from Shades of Deep Purple followed by a Roger Glover solo before ending with a song that never made it to a studio album despite it being one of their best songs ever (in my opinion), Black Night.
A fabulous night all around, I just wish I’d managed to see them in the 1970’s – in another life maybe.
Time for Bedlam
All I Got is You
Birds of Prey
Knocking at Your Back Door
Don Airey keyboard solo with Iron Man sample
Smoke on the Water
Roger Glover bass solo