Deep Purple Rock Glasgow for the Last Time ever!
Opening Deep Purple’s last ever Scottish show at the Hydro in Glasgow to a less than half full auditorium are a band amusingly called Cats In Space, a name vaguely reminiscent of a long past Muppets sketch about Pigs. Fortunately there are no obvious comparisons as they take to a somewhat cluttered stage, it looks at first glance like all the boxes the gear came in have just been piled up around the band. Helpfully, they have pop up signs behind them to constantly remind me of their joke name.
Things begin fairly promisingly as the band can obviously play with a bit of dual lead guitar work early in the proceedings. The tunes are somewhat cliched 70s rock style but delivered with what I can only describe as ELO meets Joseph’s coat. They work pretty hard to engage the room which is predominantly older rockers, like me and older. The top-hatted keyboard player injects some wizardry into the intro of one of their tracks but this not a great start.
As the hall begins to get up to capacity the lights go out and there’s the sound of thunder rumbling overhead giving way to some Mordor inspired music then the screen to the rear of the stage lights with the logo and name of the main support, Europe. I sort of wasn’t expecting much from what I considered, prior to this evening, a one hit wonder. Albeit that one hit was the first ever single I purchased aged 10.
The Swedish rockers exceeded all my expectations, their live show was epic, from the thunderous entry and atmospheric keys to the singers strong vocal and stage movement and Kee Marcello’s shredding guitar lines. They exuded 80s hard rock and still had a strong presence. When they played The Final Countdown as their last song I felt I wasn’t the only person in the Hydro who would be drawn to see them again, if the chance arose.
Europe seemed a tough act to follow and as the rear screen lit to show a picture depicting an iceberg carved, Mount Rushmore style, with the faces of the current line up of the main act, I wondered what to hope for from a band in their late 60s and early 70s.
Again the lights go out on what seems like a sell out, all seated Hydro and the mighty Deep Purple come out on stage straight into opening number Time For Bedlam with the monotonic spoken word intro. Lead singer, Ian Gillan’s vocal not really cutting through though once the song starts in earnest, at points drowned out by the band, who are pretty pre-historically loud. Steve Morse is squealing harmonics from his Music Man guitar and to be fair he is a fantastic player who through the course of the show seems to showcase a remarkably wide varied of styles.
They fire on through the next track Fireball, and then Bloodsucker, I can see some head banging in the stalls and there are some people who have left their seats to squeeze up to the barrier. An ethereal guitar intro to Uncommon Man which Gillan dedicates to former Deep Purple band mate Jon Lord. The light show really seems to come alive at this point, it had been pretty static for the first 4 or 5 songs.
Some of the songs indulgent, prog rock interludes seemed a little dated but the musicianship and the tightness of the band was quite phenomenal and some of the riffs have real industrial feeling power..
Don Airey takes a Keyboard solo after the band finish Knocking At Your Back Door and he puts in some Scottish touches for the Glasgow crowd with Skye Boat Song and Loch Lomond themes evident. This virtuosity leads into Perfect Strangers and then they seem to really hit their stride with Space Trucking, the light show steps up too. The tune is great and the technicality of the band is really showcased.
To close out the set what else than possibly the most recognisable guitar riff in history Smoke On The Water, with fire on the screen behind them and the crowd in fine voice it had all the power I expected it to have live, Bravo.
The Glasgow crowd chant them back out for an encore and they open with a rendition of Green Onions by Booker T and the MG’s which takes them into the fabulous Hush, their best song in my opinion. Roger Glover then takes a Bass solo, I’ve never liked these and this one didn’t change that, and it seemed like a strange point in the show to slot one in. They then closed out the show with Black Night another classic riff and a good one to end on.
Overall a great evenings entertainment, Deep Purple’s sound was powerful and what you would expect from a band who have been doing it as long as them, although Ian Gillan’s vocal could have been higher in the mix. I did feel the light show could have been better co-ordinated as it didn’t seem to have any continuity or purpose. They are still Deep Purple though and they delivered a Rock show befitting on e of the best Hard Rock Band of their era.
REVIEW BY: LORNE RALSTON