Deep Purple

OVO Hydro, Glasgow

22 October 2022

I like the Hydro much better than the O2. It's easy to get to, well laid out, well organised, and sounds great.

Well, backpedalling on the well-organised part, there were a couple of problems tonight. The show starts 15 minutes earlier than advertised, leading to many people stuck queuing when Blue Oyster Cult started playing, then groping their way to their seats in pitch blackness.

The other problem was the slightly too obtrusive security. Is it really that important to keep people in their places? We're Deep Purple fans, we're not going to invade the stage or kill each other in a mosh pit.

Maybe this is why large sections of the audience remained seated. I know we're all getting on a bit and we can't all stand, but this is Deep Purple, and I will stand for Deep Purple as long as I am physically able. But then there's a problem, because I recognise that not everybody wants to stand—and I understand, there are many concerts where I prefer to sit—and those people can't see if some of us do stand. So whichever way you have it, somebody is going to be upset. I don't know why arenas don't recognise this and designate separate seating and standing areas. They've got the space to do it and make sure everybody can still see.

But all this is distracting me from telling you about the best concert I have ever seen. Last time, I was too overwhelmed to dissect the set list properly, so let's see if I can do it now. It's the same set on paper, but with Deep Purple you never hear a song the same way twice.

Having said that, I think the first two songs, Highway Star and Pictures of Home, are both played pretty straight. Don Airey and Simon McBride throw in unique flourishes of course, but the bass solo in Pictures of Home is as expected, and the drums keep the traditional structure. It's all about what a song must have to capture its essential nature, and what you can add to embellish this, and Deep Purple have this balance down to a fine art.

Ian Gillan is struggling in Highway Star, though better than in London. Not just missing the notes, but in Pictures of Home he's skipping words, which makes it seem like he's running out of breath.

But the third song is, surprisingly, a new one, No Need to Shout. It's one of the less interesting tracks on Whoosh!—which means of course that it's a superbly crafted rock song—but what a difference in Ian Gillan. Singing a song written for his current voice, he sounds fantastic. And, remarkably, this persists for the rest of the night, where he sounds ... well, we'll get to his highlights shortly.

Another new song, Nothing at All, and it's not just the best song on Whoosh!, it's their best song for years.

Simon opens it; and his tone isn't quite the same as Steve Morse's, but it's still perfect for the song. But it's the organ that makes the song, and a bonus from the big screens is that we can watch Don's fingers and see exactly how he plays the Bach counterpoint that runs through it. It's simply beautiful. Best song of the night.

The third (and sadly last) new song is Uncommon Man, and this is Simon's first moment to really shine as he takes a long solo before it. Starts off in a manner not a million miles from Steve, and gradually his own style takes over. His technique is a marvel to watch and his tone is beautiful, and his extended bent notes (Gary Moore style) are exquisite.

Don takes a solo before the next song, so you know it's going to be Perfect Strangers or Lazy, but he stays on organ so it's going to be Lazy ... yes, there's the riff. Ian Paice thinks it's the riff so he starts the drum pattern ... no, Don's still soloing. But Paice keeps playing with him anyway ... yes, it's Lazy, there's the guitar and the mouth organ ... it's Lazy, a dazzlingly fast version.

And it's into another surprise, Anya. Is it 30 years since I heard it? The best song from The Battle Rages On, it's a crowd pleaser, but honestly doesn't really stand out for me among the other marvels tonight.

Another solo for Don to show off the sounds he can make with a synth, then his dazzling piano skills, then building the anticipation (we know what's coming) until with a massive CRASH of sound it's Perfect Strangers, Deep Purple's best song, and Gillan nails the lyric, and I don't have time to praise it because ...

When a Blind Man Cries. And Simon fits it beautifully, it shows another side of his playing and he can fill any shoes you care to point at, and I can't even appreciate it because Oh My God Ian Gillan. Ian Gillan. He's singing with 200% passion, meaning every word and holding every note longer than is humanly possible and oh my God I love this so much.

Space Truckin' is almost an anti-climax at this point, though it's predictably a crowd pleaser that finally gets the other half of the crowd on their feet.

Then Roger basically orders Simon to the front of the stage to play the greatest riff in the universe.

And that's it, I'm done.

Except for the encores. Hush, and Don and Simon were born to play together, and a bass solo, and Black Night, and that's it, I stay until the last moment when Roger finally leaves that stage because I need to compose myself before I meet my friends outside, and I need memorise every detail to write a review later, which is now, and I don't even know when I am any more.

And that's it, I'm really done.