Deep Purple

Hammersmith Odeon

15 March 1991

(Thirty-One Years Later)

I've got to be careful talking about this, because three decades of commentary on the Internet has taught me that this particular line-up of Deep Purple wasn't very good and this tour was a bit embarrassing. But I'm going to trust what I remember thirty-one years after the gig, not what the Internet tells me I ought to remember.

The thing is, I didn't have the Internet in 1991, and nobody had told me I wasn't supposed to approve of Deep Purple replacing Ian Gillan with Joe Lynn Turner. And though Gillan will be unequalled as Purple's singer, Turner sang just fine; after all, he'd been in Rainbow, and they were pretty good. Of course the style of the music changed when the line-up did, but that's a good thing: my seven years of collecting their music had shown me that they changed line-up and style constantly, and that variety was one of the great things about the band.

So despite what my peers now tell me, I liked the Slaves and Masters album, and I was really looking forward to this tour. So I happily travelled down to London (the furthest I'd yet been for a concert) and stepped inside the legendary Hammersmith Odeon for the first time to see the Mk V line-up of Deep Purple for the first (and, as it turned out, the only) time.

And was I disappointed? No, my memory tells me I wasn't. I had waited four years to see Deep Purple again, and this concert was everything I had waited for.

The started with Burn, a song Ian Gillan would never have sung, and as far as I was concerned at the time Joe Lynn Turner did a great job, and the instrumentalists were every bit as polished, and exciting, and innovative, as I had come to expect.

Burn wasn't the only surprise in the set. I think they teased Child in Time, but then I think they wisely didn't attempt all of it. And I think they may have snuck in a Rainbow medley: Long Live Rock'n'Roll? Which I wouldn't have minded at all, because you know, I liked Rainbow. And of course they will have played a handful of songs from the new album. The only one I can clearly remember is Fire in the Basement, but I'm pretty sure they must have played King of Dreams, and a couple of others. And, as mentioned, I thought the new album was good, so I had nothing to complain about.

I remember Jon Lord taking the microphone to introduce Joe to us, which I thought was a very cool thing to do (I've since learned he did the same when Coverdale and Hughes joined the band). Something like, "We hope you'll love him the same way we do," and basically if Jon Lord asks me to do something then I'm going to do it.

There was a bass solo, which I hadn't heard from Deep Purple before.

The lights were beautiful.

Honestly, it had every ingredient I want from a rock concert, and Deep Purple were still the greatest band in the world. I don't remember a single moment of wishing Ian Gillan was also there.

No, I know my fellow fans will be shaking their heads pityingly, but I don't care, because I knew for a fact on that night in 1991 that I witnessing the best concert I had ever seen.

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