Eagle Rock [Release date 26.08.16]
In September 2002 Deep Purple took to the stage at the Birmingham NEC to bid a fond farewell to legendary keyboard player Jon Lord, who had earlier that year retired for health reasons. Having previously only been available as part of the “Around The World Live” box set, this is the first time that the show has been available as a single disc.
The concert lasts nearly two hours and places live classics like “Hush”, “Black Night”, “Highway Star” and “Smoke On The Water” alongside deeper cuts such as “Mary Long”, “Lazy” and “Ted The Mechanic”.
However, the night is stolen by a stunning rendition of, coincidentally my favourite Deep Purple song, “Perfect Strangers”- because it is at this point that Jon Lord takes over from current ivory tinkler Don Airey and lifts the set a notch. He then stays in situ for the remainder of the show sharing keyboard duties throughout some of the bands biggest hits.
Lord himself said on the night that it was emotional playing songs that he knew he’d never perform again and you can almost feel the emotion whilst he is on stage.
The band are on form and, although at times you feel Gillan’s voice isn’t what it once was he then blows it out the water – with a great rock n roll medley in ‘Speed King’. Guitarist Steve Morse is as solid and dependable as ever and during his solo plays a medley of some of the best known riffs in the history of popular music before launching into a rousing “Smoke On The Water”.
“Live At The NEC” is a good gig and a great reminder of the genius of the one and only Jon Lord. Deep Purple don’t seem to show any sign of slowing down even now, and Ian Gillan put it best when he said “We are not on the rock n roll highway anymore, but taking the scenic route”. *****
Review by Nikk Gunns
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