REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
There is no doubt that Deep Purple are living legends. I know that many people think that the present Deep Purple isn’t as good as the original band once was. Some might think that it’s a latter-day revival outfit, put together by Ian Paice, who is the only remaining member from the very first line-up which existed between 1968 and 1969. This band has survived a seemingly endless series of lineup changes and a dramatic mid-career shift from progressive rock to ear-shattering heavy metal to emerge as a true legend of the current complex rock community, and everyone should respect that fact. The band’s 18’th studio album “Rapture Of Deep” was released last November, and the band started their current world tour 17’th of January from London.
It was great to see that the Icefall of Helsinki was practically sold out again, and there were several people, about 7500 present here tonight. The band played here last time in 2003, but in the past summer, they did a show at a festival called Miljoonarock, located about 400 kilometers north of Helsinki, so this was their third show in Finland within three years. Originally it was announced that Scottish band Nazareth would be the opening act on this show, but unfortunately, things had changed. Instead of the good old Nazareth, we now had a Finnish support band called Crazy World of Mika Järvinen. During the past years, I have seen Mr. Järvinen playing in many different places with different line ups but to be honest, and I still don’t like too much about his “Zeppelin” look and sound alike style and music. Though there is nothing wrong with him, I don’t care about stuff like that too much. After listening to the first two or three songs, I decided to go back into the backstage area and wait for the headliner to begin.
Deep Purple showtime started at 08:00 PM. At first, Ian Paice appeared behind the drum kit, and soon the rest of the band walked on stage ready to go. The set started surprisingly with “Pictures of Home” (Machine Head 1973), a great song from the band’s biggest classic album, but it’s also a fantastic choice as an opening track? Well… of course, things like “which song is an opening track” are about a matter of taste, but in my ears, it sounded a little bit odd at first, but on the other hand song sounded good, so what’s the matter? Great start for the great evening!
The next song was “Things I Never Said,” and it’s from the new “Rapture Of The Deep” album, or is it…? Well, sometimes things in the music business are weird and unfair for us who are the ones who keep on buying records and then also pay the salary of those people who are working in record companies. The band recorded this song for “Rapture of the Deep,” but if you want to have that song, you have to buy and then download it, or then you have to buy a Japanese edition of the album (which includes that song). Usually, so-called bonus tracks are not worth too much, but in this case, it does have some sense because this song is one of the best “new tracks” what this band has released in years. Excellent stuff and fine live version, we thank and bow! “Wrong Man” was played next, and it continued the sequence of new album tracks. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the band’s latest album, but this one is clearly one of the better tracks on it, and that worked out well. Nothing more to say at this point.
I remember when the “Purpendicular” album came out back in 1996. I liked that album. That album contained all the positive elements that had been more or less missing from bands’ previous releases, and what was more important, it was fully booked with great songs. I don’t know if we can call “Ted the Mechanic” an absolute classic a ‘la “Smoke on the Water” or “Child in Time,” but at least it’s a true classic from bands “Steve Morse’s era” It’s a great song and tonight band played a great version of it. I don’t know if it was just in my imagination, but Steve seemed to be enjoying playing this one? Following the track “Living Wreck” (In Rock 1970) was a real pleasant surprise, at least for me, because I have never heard this song live before. It’s more than great when bands like Deep Purple, which have such a long and comprehensive history, sometimes pick up “forgotten jewels from the past” and are then able to surprise people like me. Well, to honest… “Living Wreck” is not the best song of “In Rock,” Although Gillan had some trouble in his vocals during this one, this was still one of the evening highlights.
What we heard next was two more tracks from the new album, and the first one was the title track, “Rapture of the Deep.” Since the very first listen, I haven’t cared about that song too much, and I didn’t like it any more now, so at this point, I decided to have a little break, and I went to the bar to have a pint of beer. When I returned, the band had already started another new track, “Before Time Began,” which is another somehow tiresome and boring and unnecessary song to play live. Of course, when the band has so much material to choose from, why do they waste time and play songs like “Before Time Began”? Fortunately, things got much better when the band did the following “Mary Long” (Who Do We Think We Are 1973). I’m not sure if this song has been played live since the “Purpendicular” -tour back in 1996 (?), but anyway, it was great to hear this underrated classic again. I have to mention here that although the band did a total of six tracks from the new “Rapture of the Deep,” they only a handful of songs from other “Steve Morse” albums. There was nothing from “Abandon,” and there was just one track from brilliant “Purpendicular” when “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” was recently dropped off from the setlist and replaced with “Mary Long.” Also, it was surprising that the band did only one “Bananas” song, which was an instrumental “Contact Lost.”
After Steve’s overlong, somewhat boring guitar solo and another instrumental “Well Dressed Guitar” track, the whole band returned on stage and started to play classic “Lazy” (Machine Head 1972). I have always preferred the live version of “Lazy” much more than the original recording, and now it sounded as good as ever. Next, it was the time of Don Airey’s keyboard solo. As many of us know, Don already has a long and comprehensive career in various well-known hard rock/metal bands like Ozzy Osbourne, M.S.G, Gary Moore, and Deep Purple-related Whitesnake and Rainbow. It was funny when Don played a kind of assembly that consisted of some recognizable parts from his past career, like when he did the intro, which real name I can’t remember, what Ozzy used to use on his concerts. He also played some parts of Sibelius’s “Finlandia,” which attracted noisy applause before hitting the next song, a title track of the band’s 1984 comeback album “Perfect Strangers.” This song seems to be an absolute crowd favorite, and in my opinion, it’s an annoyance that the band doesn’t play more songs from their 80’s/early 90’s albums. How about doing “Knocking at Your Back Door,” “Bad Attitude,” “Call of the Wild,” “Anya,” or one of my onetime Deep Purple favorite, “Wasted Sunsets”? Well… hopefully someday?
When Gillan introduced another new track, “Junkyard Blues,” I was then ready to leave towards the bar area again but decided to stay, and it was a good choice. “Junkyard Blues” worked a way better on live than how it does on the record, so it was a kind of positive surprise, whereas the next new track, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” didn’t work at all. Read the phrase that I used for “Before Time Began” and… next song, please. As guessed, the best bellowing was still to come. Gillan and mates closed out the fetid festivities with a classic song for (Machine Head 1972), “Space Truckin,” which started the hit parade of old classics. It was funny to notice that the audience, who mainly was in half sleep at one point, suddenly literally woke up and started to have a great time. “Space Truckin’” sounded great, and then, like a right cross to the teeth, “Highway Star” (Machine Head 1972) followed and exploded the whole place in pieces. There is no doubt that “Smoke on the Water” (Machine Head 1972) is one of the songs which Deep Purple must play at every concert, or a significant part of the audience would be dissatisfied. Fortunately, this time band didn’t stretch the song too much, and Gillan was content with just two sings along refrain. That was a positive thing because I’ve often heard versions that are over ten minutes long …
“Speed King” (In Rock 1971) was a little bit surprising encore because, on this tour, the band has usually played “Hush” at this place, but in my opinion, this was a way better choice. Although sometimes Gillan was in trouble when he tried to reach the highest notes, the song sounded fresh and energetic. Following was Ian Paice’s brief drum solo. It’s always a pleasure to watch his drumming style and technique. This time, it was even more interesting because there were two close-up cameras attached to the drum kit and everyone in the audience was able to see via screens what was going on behind the kit. The very final encore was “Black Night,” which was … let’s say that it was a perfect finish for this concert.
Maybe this wasn’t the best show I’ve seen from them, but it was still good. A very few things have changed from what I have seen before, but it was clear that this current lineup has become much tighter and more confident than before. Though barefooted Ian Gillan is already in his mid 50’s he proved that he’s still one of the best singers in the rock world. Ian Paice was still superb on drums. Roger Glover was great, and he’s one of the most underrated bassists in the world. Guitarist Steve Morse is a way more difficult case to analyze. There is no doubt that his playing is very technical and solid, and he’s a great performer. However, something important is still missing, mainly when the band does older material from the “Blackmore period.” The newest member, keyboardist Don Airey stayed mostly in the background, but he did a decent job. He doesn’t have the kind of charisma that his predecessor Jon Lord used to have, but he’s an excellent player and perfect replacement for retired Mr.Lord. Deep Purple does not need smoke machines, laser beams, or giant stage construction. Just give them light, electricity, drums, amplifiers, and a set of instruments, and the band will do what they do best, play great music.
COMPLETE SETLIST IN ORDER:
Pictures Of Home
Things I Never Said
Ted The Mechanic
Rapture Of The Deep
Before Time Began
Steve Morse –solo-
Well Dressed Guitar
Don Airey -solo-
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
Smoke On The Water
Ian Paice –solo-
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