So finally, I get to see Deep Purple, 45 years after buying the seminal ‘Made in Japan’. Life got in the way, timings were bad etc. but I’m glad I managed to get to see them – albeit there are some reservations, read on.
Next year it will be 50 years since they started and as of today their average age is 69, combined age 344 (don’t you just love Microsoft Excel) with Glover and Gillan in their early 70’s. As it happens Ian Paice is the only member who has been in every incarnation of Purple.
So, given their ages, we are treated to songs (lots of classics omitted) that give members their spot in the limelight whilst the others ‘have a rest’ and also nothing too strenuous on Ian Gillan’s vocal chords – he ain’t gonna hit the high notes on ‘Child in Time’ any more for example. That said his voice is still rather good. Ian also gave us some small talk in-between songs – nothing too enlightening – Ian joking about the floor seats “I’m sorry they’re not sofas or futons”, which got a bit of a laugh.
The stage itself was a simple affair with a bank of speakers/amps in a straight line with Ian Paice and Don Airey in the middle and loads of room in front. All that room was a bit too much for Steve Morse as he rarely left his spot with the foot pedals whilst Roger and Ian were a bit more active! There were two medium sized video screens at either side of the stage and a huge screen backdrop behind the band which showed intermittent live band images, videos e.g. newspaper/TV images of the Montreux fire during ‘Smoke on the Water’ and some rather simple graphics. In the twilight of their careers Deep Purple have updated their classic Mount Rushmore ‘In Rock’ LP cover with the band members’ faces etched into a giant iceberg (let’s hope it’s not melting!). Nice – next live LP cover anyone?
It might be their ‘Long Goodbye’ tour but it’s also an excuse to plug their new LP ‘inFinite’ quite a lot. From where I was up in the gods, you could clearly see Ian looking down at the floor when singing the newer numbers (zooming in you could see a bunch of sheets of paper stuck to the floor presumably with the lyrics on them). He might be getting old but his eyesight is ok!
The core mainstays of Roger (resplendent in his time-honoured bandana), and both Ian’s actually look pretty good for their ages and looked like they were enjoying themselves in front of a 90% full O2 crowd (top tier at the back was curtained off). This year I also saw Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow, which was pretty crap – see my review, and Purple were infinitely better!
They play together instinctively, tight or loose with clever interplay. After all these years on the road I wouldn’t expect anything different. Riff here, riff there on a pretty good mix of new and old classics for the hardcore fans. Everyone was singing once those famous chords were hit – all together now “we all went out to Montreux…”
Now I know these guys are all virtuoso musicians but in my humble opinion I didn’t need to have a damn extended guitar/keyboard/bass/drum solo quite so frequently. To me it didn’t enhance the show, it was too self-indulgent ‘hey look how good I am’ and in the end got really annoying and boring. Don Airey was the chief protagonist of this and from where I was sat in Row A of the gods all I could see on the video screens were his stubby arthritic fingers pounding away on the ivory’s. He has no change of ever removing his wedding ring!
If they had just stuck to the songs as per the LP versions, they could have probably included at least another 3 iconic songs on the night. It was billed as the Long Goodbye tour so I was expecting more of their classics – the songs were good but they were not the songs I wanted to hear! Don’t get me wrong, they were exceedingly good e.g. ‘Fireball, Space Truckin’, Smoke’ on a number of songs. When they decided to be clever and jam or solo that’s when it got irritating.
Setlist (click on link to watch the video)
- Time for Bedlam – [inFinite, 2017]
- Fireball – [Fireball, 1971]
- Bloodsucker – [Deep Purple in Rock, 1970]
- All I Got Is You – [inFinite, 2017]
- Uncommon Man (for Jon Lord) – [Now What?!, 2013]
- The Surprising – [inFinite, 2017]
- Lazy – [Machine Head, 1972]
- Birds of Prey – [inFinite, 2017]
- Knocking at Your Back Door – [Perfect Strangers, 1984]
- Perfect Strangers – [Perfect Strangers, 1984]
- Space Truckin’ – [Machine Head, 1972]
- Smoke on the Water – [Machine Head, 1972]*
- Peter Gunn (cover)
- Hush – [Shades of Deep Purple, 1968]
- Black Night – [7” Single, 1970]
*copyright Maria D’Innocenzo
The demographic of the audience was hard core fans and their offspring. Call me old fashioned but having seats on the floor is just not R’n’R. However, most people seemed to be standing throughout, so what’s the point?
It would be less of a long goodbye if they didn’t want to show off!
The support band were Europe, not my bag or other people’s either as they played to a half full crowd doing their best to get them going. They had a few hard-core fans at the front who cheered and sang along throughout. The Swedish rockers played a tight set of their well known stuff and newer tracks from their ‘Walk The Earth’ LP and finished with their most iconic track ‘The Final Countdown’. Alas, the damn song is still imprinted on my brain – will this torment ever stop!
Merchandising was hidden away on the first floor. Funnily enough I saw a picture of the merch stand at the B’ham gig on the internet. One of the many goodies was a limited-edition drum skin autographed by all band members selling at £60. In London it was priced at £80!. That really is taking the piss guys – not got enough money already? I bought nothing in silent protest!
Marko – 25 Nov 2017
4 thoughts on “Gig Review: Deep Purple – London O2 [23 Nov 2017]”
I’ve seen them 45 years ago in Amsterdam in the Heineken Hall , they played very well, it’s not realy my cup of thea .. but it was high standerd quality what they brought👌
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Hi, as usually great article. You should really go pro. I am surprised that they missed highway star for example. Probably there was no time due to their improvisations, wasting time. Waiting for the next review, in the meantime i will put on machine head, for sunday morning
I can’t comment specifically on the o2 show but I did go to the one in Birmingham 6 days earlier.
I’m slightly bemused at the criticism of the solos/jams etc as this in part is what defines DP. Furthermore, it was hardly like the “good old days” when Space Truckin was a 22 minute live track! Actually, the solos these days are really melodic and really quite short. Whilst, each to their, own I’m surprised you didn’t like them. Don Airey’s 5 minute solo (max) – which is always a mash up of a range of tunes – is always a highlight for me and always seems to go down well at every DP show I attend
Highway Star is my favourite DP track but its omission was a price worth paying to have 5 songs in this sett written in the last 4 years
I was there for all bands, thoroughly enjoyed the show, met some great people, had a couple of my friends there but they were up in the gods, I was the kid in flare jeans, Machine Head album shirt and a shitty battle jacket.