On the 22nd June 1985 I made a very long trip south, on the oldest bus known to man to stand in a flooded field near Stevenage, to witness the return of Deep Purple mark 2 at Knebworth. It was a day to remember for many things, Meat Loaf being bottled off stage, the Scorpions human pyramid and Ritchie Blackmore in a fetching pair of wellies.
That was the return but now the guys are playing their Long Farewell tour heralding the end of one of rock’s giants. Blackmore may have left long ago and Jon Lord is now the organist for the heavenly choir but the remaining mark 2 trio of Ian Gillan, Roger Glover and Ian Paice have kept Purple alive ably abetted by Steve Morse on guitar and Don Airey on keyboards.
Opening tonight’s proceedings were one of the best up and coming bands in the UK. Cats In Space have just released album number two ‘Scarecrow’ which has received huge critical acclaim since its release and rightly so. The mix of great melodies, perfect harmonies and clever lyrics helps to create the guys’ unique sound which is retro but bang up to date at the same time.
The band only had time for five songs tonight but that was enough to win them more fans in Glasgow. ‘Too Many Gods’ opened the short set with frontman Paul Manzi at ease in the large hall and sounding great. ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ and ‘Timebomb’ from the new album went down well as did the epic ‘Greatest Story Never Told’. ‘Five Minute Celebrity’ brought things to a close with an appreciative cheer from the growing crowd and another few CD sales guaranteed.
With Brexit being a hot topic at the moment the question did cross my mind as to whether Europe will still be allowed to tour the UK? I am joking of course and it would be a travesty if we were denied another excellent set from Joey and the guys. Tonight the band were in full on rocking mode and delivered a very heavy set which may have surprised a few in the crowd who only know the band for ‘The Final Countdown’.
Just to prove their intent the band kicked off with the title track of the new album ‘Walk The Earth’ which is a heavy track with prog overtones. The heavy theme then continued with ‘The Siege’ before the guys dipped into the hits with ‘Rock The Night’ no doubt to the relief of some expecting some old style synth led pomp rock.
Joey Tempest is a old school showman who twirled his mic stand and pulled the regulation rockstar shapes throughout the set, cheesy yes but fun none the less. The unsung hero in the band is guitarist John Norum who lays down the driving riffs with aplomb as demonstrated on ‘Last Look At Eden’ and ‘War Of Kings’.
The ballad ‘Carrie’ went down a storm as did ‘Days Of Rock n Roll’ before the intro kicked in to ‘that’ song. The intro to ‘The Final Countdown’ is one of the most recognisable sounds of the 80’s and brought the crowd to their feet. Europe proved again tonight that they are a class act with more to offer than the hits that brought them their early success.
Deep Purple are another band who have continued to create and develop their sound over the years. The addition of Steve Morse on guitar afforded the band a whole new musical range, in fact Morse is now the longest serving DP guitarist which may surprise some. The set opened with ‘Time For Bedlam’ from the band’s latest album ‘Infinite’ with Ian Gillan bathed in a hellish red light adding menace to the song. Gillan is now 72 but his vocal delivery is still spot on although his onstage dance moves are a sight to behold!
‘Fireball’ and ‘Bloodsucker’ then transported us back to the early 70’s in fine style with Ian Paice driving things on with some fantastic drumming. ‘All I Got Is You’ brought things back up to date before Gillan introduced ‘Uncommon Man’ the band’s tribute to the late John Lord which features some intricate keyboard work from Don Airey.
Airey also excelled on the extended intro to ‘Lazy’ with his fingers flying on the Hammond organ. Steve Morse then stepped forward with some fretboard magic on ‘Bird Of Prey’ which is another new track with prog rock leanings. I was then transported back to the muddy grounds of Knebworth when the guys launched into ‘Knocking At Your Back Door’, ah, the memories of the trenchfoot came flooding back.
Airey then stepped up again for a keyboard solo which featured the opening gambit of Ozzy’s ‘Mr Crowley’, a blast of ‘Loch Lomond’ and a rousing version of ‘I Belong To Glasgow’, the man really knows how to win over a crowd. The solo then morphed into ‘Perfect Strangers’ before we were invited by Gillan to go ‘Space Truckin’ with Roger Glover rattling out the intro stage front.
There is only one song which could round off the set and as Morse cranked out the opening chords to ‘Smoke On The Water’ the crowd once again took to their feet. Gillan led the Glasgow choir in a mass singalong whilst the huge video screen backdrop showed footage and news reports of the fateful day in Montreux.
Following a brief break the band reappeared and went into a cover of ‘Green Onions’ which then led into the old classic ‘Hush’. ‘Black Night’ then brought the evening to a close with the band taking the well deserved applause.
If this does prove to be Deep Purple’s final tour then they are bowing out on a high. Tonight we were treated to a musical feast from all the bands that, in an age dominated by X Factor wannabees, restores your faith in music. Thanks for the slightly damp memories guys.
Review and Photos by Dave Wilson
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