Deep Purple

Glasgow Clyde Auditorium

October 17, 1998

Ah... Scotland. I love the train journey north. This was my first visit to Glasgow. It's a nice city, not what I expected at all. The SEC (Clyde Auditorium) is not easy to find. Though it's close to the city centre, it's not pedestrian-friendly. But you don't want a travelogue, you want to hear that


I couldn't get to my computer to post a review yesterday, but here are some notes I wrote in my hotel room while the concert was still fresh in my mind:

The Clyde Auditorium, a huge, space-age, metal monstrosity, was floodlit in Purple! I'm sure this is normal, but I like to think it was done in honour of the band!

Got another T-Shirt (I'm running out of designs, I may have to get a hideously expensive polo shirt tomorrow) and finally picked up a tour program. This is actually a wonderful item. All words and pictures are by Roger Glover (I wonder how he took the photographs of himself?) and it is a day-by-day account of the recording of Abandon. It contains such wonderful facts as "Whatsername"'s working title was "F# Trudge". Cool.

My seat tonight was at the back of the balcony, the furthest back of the tour so far. If this keeps up I'll be sitting in the car park in Manchester. Still, the hall isn't really that big, though wide in proportion to its length, so the seat wasn't as bad as I had feared. And due to the extreme slope of the balcony, I saw everything perfectly. I can't even guess how full the hall was as I couldn't see all the seating from my position. But I saw very few empty seats.

The support band (Orphic Soup — I promise to post a review of them soon) had a very messy sound, worse than at the NEC, and I was afraid that Deep Purple would suffer the same problems.

Deep Purple. The sound mix wasn't brilliant. Worse than the last two venues. Jon was very low in the mix, though Roger sounded much more prominent and every bass note was crystal clear. My ears are buzzing a bit right now, though I didn't think it was too loud at the time.

The set lasted just a little over two hours (it just keeps getting longer). It was the same set as Wembley (Black Night as the first encore instead of Seventh Heaven). And the performances... well what can I say that I haven't said already? Unbelievable. Perfect. The best ever. The language doesn't contain enough words to describe how good Deep Purple are.

Some comments on individual performances:

Ian Gillan: Maybe held back a little in comparison with other nights, but what he did he did perfectly. I don't need to say how good Ian's voice is. It's simply the best. His harmonica on Fingers to the Bone is hauntingly beautiful.

Jon Lord (mega-genius of the universe) seemed to have some sound problems (and appeared to be discussing it with someone off-stage) and was sometimes smothered by the rest of the band. Jon's solo is actually more clever than I had realised. It's variations on the the Smoke on the Water theme, played in the styles of about 20 different composers. He throws in snatches of some Scottish anthems (you know which ones I mean, not Scotland the Brave, the other ones, ok?) which please the crowd immensely. When he starts to play Lazy he gets a huge cheer, but he isn't finished yet and he continues to play variations on and around the theme until Steve comes back on stage and starts the song properly.

Steve Morse has become the second man to reduce me to tears just by playing the guitar.

His solo is different again tonight, less of the odd sounds and clever effects, just a string of beautiful melodies running into each other and over each other. Then he starts into Cascades and the rest of the band joins in, but it's still Steve's song and he takes over the stage, running all over it and just totally filling it and he's just so good, if you've never seen him I don't know how I can describe it to you.

Ian Paice: It's funny, someone was telling me last night that big band swing was making a come back. Well, I don't know about that, but I don't think anyone ever told Ian Paice that it had gone away. When he plays the lengthy cymbal introductions to Woman From Tokyo or Smoke on the Water, you just have to get up and dance. Then he switches effortlessly into pounding, bass-driven rock and roll. I don't know how he can fit so many drumming styles into one concert. One song, even.

Roger Glover: I haven't said nearly enough about Roger in these reviews. Tonight his sound was crystal clear and it's amazing how much he actually plays and how much he fills out the songs, adding to the melody as well as the rhythm. His odd solo spots, though always short, are simply perfect.

Some general notes on the songs:

Still not much audience reaction to the new songs, which is a shame.

The more I hear Watching the Skies, the more I like it.

The first encore begins with an extended bluesy instrumental and I thought they would turn it into the slow opening passage of Seventh Heaven, then half the audience starts singing Black Night and I guess that decided it.

Any Fule Kno That confused most of the crowd. Much grinning and shaking of heads. Deep Purple playing rap? Listen: if anyone tells you that Deep Purple is a hard rock band, don't believe them. Deep Purple defy categorisation. Fingers to the Bone is a folk song. Watching the Skies is Floyd-like psychedelia, Speed King is a traditional jazz song, with all the instruments passing the tune around in proper jazz fashion, and Johann Sebastian Bach (mega-genius of the 18th century) would have been proud to write Highway Star.

Highway Star begins with Steve messing about. First his guitar is a rumbling engine, then it's a police siren, then it's a guitar again... how do you get so many sounds out of one instrument?

And Speed King is once again simply the best version of the best Deep Purple song I have ever heard performed on stage.

Utterly, utterly perfect.

Beyond perfect.