Deep Purple

NEC Arena, Birmingham

7 March 1987

(Twenty-Eight Years Later)

My second Deep Purple concert. They only played a handful of UK dates in 1987, and Birmingham seemed like the best choice for me to get to, as I could save a bit of money by staying with my parents.

The NEC Arena is one of those vast, cavernous, soulless sheds that are specifically designed to have a bad acoustic. In those days I didn't know any better, but over the years I have come to hate that kind of venue, and the NEC specifically. It's not only a bad venue, it's also really difficult to get to.

But in 1987, the only thing that mattered was I was going to see Deep Purple again!

On the way in I naturally stopped by the merchandise desk. I already had three concert t-shirts, and reasoning that three t-shirts was more than one person could ever want (ummm ... I currently have over 100), I opted for a rather hideous sweatshirt instead.

Deep Purple sweatshirt front
Deep Purple sweatshirt back

It's become a bit thin and shapeless over the years so I don't wear it much these days. But enough of that, let's get back to the band.

The two years since Knebworth had only increased my love of Deep Purple, and this gig cemented it. The level of musicianship was astonishing, even better than in my memories of Knebworth. Apart from a handful of songs from the new album, the set was almost identical to the Knebworth set (which has also been the core of their set lists ever since). But ... but ...

They played Child in Time. The most incredible song in their repertoire, and one that (after its absence at Knebworth) I assumed I would never hear live. And my main memory of the '87 gig now is the middle part of Child in Time, with Ritchie Blackmore standing in a tunnel of laser light and soloing for endless minutes, so much better than his "noise" solo at Knebworth, playing so well I think I forgot to breathe during it.

And that's really all I can say about this concert. That's all I need to say. Because it was quite obviously the best concert I had ever seen.