17th Oct 2013
Deep Purple have been around in one incarnation or other since 1968. Which let's face it is a lot longer than most bands these days, who seem to split after a few albums. It seems that there is no stopping the Fathers of heavy metal who along with Black Sabbath, just keep on going. Indeed, the Sons of Purple and Sabbath – Iron Maiden and Metallica are more popular now than they have ever been. Perhaps it is something about the energy of the music, but this does seem to be a genre that thankfully gives bands longevity.
After releasing their first album in eight years Now What!? to positive reviews, a tour was perhaps inevitable. Two sell out shows at London's Roundhouse indicates that there has been no waning in their Popularity. Mars, The Bringer Of War shakes the Roundhouse into a rousing battle-cryas the curtain is torn down from the stage, as if an enemy flag was being ripped down. The growl of the guitar, the pummelling of Don Airey's keyboards and the machine gun attack of Ian Paice's drums sound the end of the war. Deep Purple triumphantly take to the stage for Après Vous with Ian Gillan as their victorious leader.
Sure the long hair is long gone as are some of the trademark screams but this is Ian Gillan! Tonight his voice is punchy and his vocals are strong and on form, and he still manages to knock out the tracks with zeal. Moving around the stage with the swagger of somebody who is totally at ease with and is not afraid to have a bit of fun too; ever the showman, he even dons a mask during the heavy Vincent Price.
The set list comprises of old and new songs which blend so seamlessly that they sounded as fresh as they did nearly 40 years ago. New song Uncommon Manand Hell To Pay have a classic Purple feel to them and Above and Beyond is a moving tribute to the late Jon Lord. Don Airey's keyboard work throughout is outstanding and proves that even though Jon Lord is a impossibly hard act to follow, he is a more than worthy successor. Steven Morse is the bands other relative newbie, despite joining nearly ten years ago and being their longest serving guitarist. His gutsy guitar playing is powerful and his solos pack one hell of a punch. It was great to hear tracks such as Hard Loving Man, The Mule which featured a wicked drum solo by Ian Paice. His fellow rhythm stalwart Roger Glover on bass guitar is still as solid as ever and drives the band along with Paice with a formidable bass sound which resonates around the Roundhouse. Even though the new songs are well received it is old favourites like Perfect Strangers and Space Truckin which really get the crowd fired up towards the end of the set.
Smoke On The Water is one the most over played songs in rock. Perhaps we are so used to hearing substandard versions but it is refreshing to hear the song in the hands of the guys who first performed it sounding somehow fresh and new. The encore consisting of a Green Onions,Hush and a stonking version of their biggest hit single Black Night.
Critics may say that they should give it up and sit back in their rocking chairs, they are past their best. To them I say they are stronger than ever because they have accepted the limitations that come with age. They have moved on to develop a Deep Purple for 2013 and beyond which they can grow with. If you want to see endless note for note renditions of Purple's tracks as they were circa 1973 go and see a covers band. To see these guys live is awe inspiring because of their heritage and enduring legacy. The question beacons, what now!?