Feb 2, 2012
St.John’s, NL, Canada
Live Review and Photos by Celtic Bob
Deep Purple kicked off their ‘Smoke On The Nation’ 2012 Canadian Tour in St. John’s, NL. This was the groups first time ever performing in the Province so the hype for this show was massive. Could the aging band live up to the expectations? The answer is a qualified YES. From the first note of “Highway Star” to the last chord of “Black Night” the band was on fire and never disappointed.
The stage was simple with just the amps and instruments. You knew from the beginning that this was going to be a show where the music did the talking. Everyone in the band was in fine form with the exception of singer Ian Gillan who was clearly suffering and in a great deal of pain and discomfort. Sporting a walking cast on his right foot you could easily tell he was not up to par but it never kept him from giving it the best he could. His range isn’t the same as it was on the albums that came out 30-odd years ago, but he can still put many singers out there to shame.
Roger Glover was solid on bass, never missing a note and seemed to be really enjoying the show. His tone was perfect and well mixed. It wasn’t too loud or hidden behind the other instruments. For many the star of the show was Steve Morse with his amazing guitar playing. You couldn’t have found a better replacement for Ritchie Blackmore who departed many years ago. Steve’s style is different from Blackmore’s but he does fit in quite well. His solo’s and playing were flawless and people were raving about his playing after the show. The other ‘New’ guy in the band so to speak is Don Airey on keyboards. Don is an excellent player and did a really great solo in the latter part of the show which contained a snippet of Ozzy’s “Mr. Crowley”. While Don is quite good he just lacks that certain sound that Jon Lord had. Lord’s Hammond was crucial to the Deep Purple signature sound. Airey comes close but he just can’t quite fill those shoes.
The star of the show was drummer Ian Paice. Never in my life have I ever heard such an amazing drum sound. This is how drums should sound. They were full, heavy and in your face. Watching the show from the front row I could see how he was playing and the little ways he hit the drum.s He was hitting the drums with force and precision but made it look so easy. It is no wonder he is so highly regarded as a drummer. I have a new respect for him after this show. The nearly 2 hour show was filled with hits, instrumental solo’s and the scatter obscure song which made for an enjoyable evening of music. Some said there was a little too much instrumental jamming but for those of us that are Purple fans know the songs and how they are arranged. After being a fan since I saw the videos for “Perfect Strangers” and “Knocking At Your Back Door” back in the 80’s it was satisfying to finally get to see them live. I will go see them again every time they play in this neck of the woods.