Live in Newcastle 2001
Deep Purple has readied a brand new album for 2020, apparently. So, either beware or be excited. At any rate, to get us to that date the band has started to pour out a few archival sound-desk recordings; you know the thing – “authorised bootlegs” – a clearing of the vaults. Deep Purple love the live album format – in many ways made their name on it with Made in Japan for sure, and ahead of that even with Concerto For Group And Orchestra.
They are good at live albums, good at gigs – even seeing the late-period version of the band, MK 27 or whatever it is they’re up to now, and Gillan was in strong-enough voice, the rest of the band giving heft in behind. Sure, Steve Morse is a thin proxy for Blackmore but he’s not shit. And nor is this – a gig from 2001, the Newcastle being the one in Aussie rather than England.
So this is 2001, Jon Lord is still with us and so still with the band and the focus was on the old hits with a few lesser-known deep album cuts appearing too (Fools and No One Came from Fireball, Mary Long from Who Do We Think We Are). There are three ‘new’ songs from 1996’s Purpendicular which wasn’t the most recent new release at the time of this tour but that album did seem to represent a decent comeback of sorts, with Ted The Mechanic slotting straight into the set and mostly staying there over the last two decades. And Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming is a better example of what Morse can do as a guitarist when allowed to voice in his own way rather than aping the legendary work Blackmore created in the past.
But to those monumental hits, eh. Sure, they’re on every Purple live recording and in every set but many of them are majestic and they’re what matters most. This gig opens with Woman From Tokyo sounded fabulous and Lazy of course is anything but tired, always a vital blues-jam with a song buried somewhere inside.
Perfect Strangers the title track from when Mk II buried its baggage and created a stonker of a record every bit as good as the 70s masterpieces has an emotional weight to it that allows it to carry the mid-set, avoiding slump. Lord really stretches the intro too – delighting in everything from neo-classical piano and rock’n’roll to those slashing stabs at the organ.
Smoke On The Water, like the Stones’ Satisfaction, never sounds as good live as on record but still you can’t imagine a Deep Purple set without it. Morse picks at the riff in a way that references Blackmore’s medieval nonsense before running through a history of great guitar riffs from Zeppelin to AC/DC (going over particularly well with this audience) and Hendrix before eventually comping down hard on the staple pattern that launched 10,000 bedroom hacks.
This version has something about it – one of the better live renditions of it, there’s a pulse that’s palpable. No mere museum-piece.
But Speed King really bursts. And in a 17-minute medley interpolating Good Times and featuring local heroes Ian Moss and Jimmy Barnes it’s a real scene-stealing set-piece.
We also get Hush and When A Blind Man Cries before Moss and Barnesy are back to help hurtle through Highway Star. Only Gillan having an oddly timed tuneless wail in the middle of Black Night gets a black mark.
The rest of this is as good as you could ever expect this version of Purple in 2001 to be. And maybe it’s far better than that even.
Do you need it? Fuck no. Did I need to tell you that or even write this? Not at fucking all.
When was music ever about needing? If you want this you’re the type of fan that deserves it and won’t at all be disappointed.
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