Deep Purple, M.E.N. Arena, 29.11.11

Deep Purple 2011A few minutes to 9.00 pm,  and the 38 piece orchestra troop on, take their places and give us a brief Purple medley instrumental tease. Then the boys come on and straight into ‘Highway Star’. Now I will admit to not being the world’s No.1 Deep Purple fan (that may well be Lady A!), but I do reckon ‘Highway Star’ is one of the best ever openings to an LP, namely ‘Machine Head’.

Talking of which, any fans of said LP won’t have been disappointed, with much of it in evidence tonight..even one-time B-side ‘When A Blind Man Cries’. There were a couple of songs from the mid-80s reformed Mk2 era, but seemingly not much from the current millennium.

I have to say, though, by 10 o’ clock I was getting a bit fidgetty. Yet another Don Airey keyboard solo was coupled with an orchestral section which, to me, would have sounded like a Mantovani LP if I’d been in the toilets. And talking of solos, we had a couple from Steve Morse, the obligatory drum solo  (is it still 1970!?), and just when I was going to congratulate Roger Glover, a bass solo.I was wondering when the Samosa seller from downstairs was going to do one.

To be fair to the ‘new’ boys, Morse has a similar jazzy feel to Blackmore , and Airey has a Lord-esque style (but without the wonderful Hammond organ). Gillan has protected his pipes pretty well, but it was quite telling that when the encore ‘Black Night’ came up, I realised there had been nothing from ‘In Rock’. I think Gillan has sensibly come to realise that eg ‘Child in Time’ and ‘Into The Fire’ require a 20 year old larynx, not a 60 year old one!

The orchestra? I have to say, it was only a sax solo in ‘Strange Kind of Woman’ after 20 minutes that they made me aware of them. (Other than putting about £20 on the ticket price). I reckon if you gave the DP fans the option of no orchestra but a free T-shirt when you came in?

Good professional show though. Like Cheap Trick, they don’t sell shed loads of records nowadays, so this is their main source of income. And full marks to them for still treading the boards.

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