DVD review: DEEP PURPLE – Perfect Strangers Live

Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers Live (DVD)

Eagle Records – Out Now

Deep Purple have experienced eight main member reshuffles since they first formed in Hertford back in 1968, however, it has been universally accepted that it is the work of the Mark II line up (Gillan/ Glover/Paice/Lord/Blackmore) which has helped shaped them into the legendary outfit that we all know and love.

When said line up disbanded in 1973 amidst tension and animosity, no one expected to find these five top level musicians sharing the same stage ever again. Well miracles, as you know, do happen every now and then like when the band got back together in 1984 and recorded a top quality album entitled “Perfect Strangers” – an album which was followed by a customary extensive world tour.

Though shows of that tour had been recorded, no footage had ever seen the light of day until now, that is, as Eagle Records has decided to put its weight behind a DVD release entitled “Perfect Strangers Live”.

Purple began the tour for the promotion of “Perfect Strangers” in Australia and it was in Melbourne that this fifteen-track show was recorded. Though predictably dated, the quality of the video footage on offer is of a pretty high standard, with numerous cameras, cleverly positioned around the venue, ensuring that all band members are given a fair amount of attention while we are treated to some really interesting angles and perspectives.

Most importantly, however, what this DVD clearly portrays is a very tight band of five strong- willed musicians who are quite relaxed in each other’s company and are actually quite enjoying themselves on stage.

As far as the material on offer is concerned, this is a well balanced mix of songs from the “Perfect Strangers” album, classic 70s material as well as a few interesting surprises. A leather-clad Gillan finds his top form quite early on, hitting all the high notes in the opener “Highway Star” and seems to achieve quite good levels of chemistry with Blackmore in “Strange Kind Of Woman”, a song which the guitar maestro further embellishes by performing part of the main theme from the “Jesus Christ Superstar” Rock Opera.

Relative newbie “Gypsy’s Kiss” is performed at a faster tempo; “Perfect Strangers” finds the late Jon Lord in a truly experimental mood, while “Under The Gun” is all about Roger Glover and his low but relentless bass guitar frequencies. Improvisation has always been the main staple of a Deep Purple show and “Perfect Strangers Live” is no exception to that rule.

It is, in fact, an absolute pleasure to see Blackmore & Paice give their instruments a run for their money on “Lazy”; Gillan head banging during an interesting rendition of Rainbow’s “Difficult to Cure” and Lord kicking the guts out of his keyboard rigs in a mightily impressive solo.

This impressive show concludes with killer renditions of “Space Truckin’”, “Black Night”, “Speed King” and the all-time classic “Smoke on the Water” – the only occasion where you can actually hear to members of the crowd singing along to the band’s tunes.

Let’s face it: “Perfect Strangers Live” would be an absolute necessity for Rock fans even if it had been recorded on a single hand held camera, since it is, at least at this moment in time, the only footage available from the reforming of the MKII era of one of the most influential Rock bands ever to set foot on this earth.

The fact that it is a very professional depiction of a band on fire makes it an absolute must-have. Oh yes, and brace yourselves for a 20 minute bonus tour documentary, the contents of which will certainly raise a few eyebrows.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 February, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

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