Tag Archives: Deep Purple

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and Sweet at Birmingham Genting Arena 28/6/17

When I was a teenager getting seriously into rock and metal in the early 80s I was lucky enough to see some of the biggest acts around: AC/DC, Sabbath, Quo, Ozzy etc. One band I never got to see, however, was Rainbow and one guitar wizard I never got to see (in any formation) was Ritchie Blackmore. For some inexplicable reason (and I am normally really on the ball with this) I failed to get myself a ticket when Blackmore revived the Rainbow name and announced a tentative return to rock ‘ n’ roll last year. So when a further tour was announced this year I made absolutely sure I was going to be there this time.

The evening was going to be made even more special when I found out the support act would be Sweet, who I have been following for as long as I’ve been following Rainbow. Unlike Rainbow, I have seen The Sweet many times before over the past twenty-odd years – but usually in small rock venues or provincial theatres, never in an arena with a 15,000 strong crowd. In some ways, both Rainbow and The Sweet summed up the music of the mid 70s: the albums-based rock was brilliant and the singles-based pop was brilliant, too. Perfection!

Tonight would give Andy Scott and co the chance to rekindle their relationship with many older rock fans as well as hopefully winning over some newer fans, too. ‘Hellraiser’, ‘Teenage Rampage’, ‘Blockbuster’, ‘Ballroom Blitz’ et al all go down an absolute storm. My only complaint was that the set was heavily weighted towards the old hits, with little time for the harder-edged album-oriented rock of which the band have an impressive, if less well-known, back catalogue. However, we did get stunning versions of ‘Set Me Free’ and ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’ and hopefully Andy Scott’s continuing version of The Sweet has a good few more fans after tonight.

“I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order,” Eric Morecambe once famously said. No-one in their right mind could ever accuse guitar god, Ritchie Blackmore, of that. But funnily enough I was reminded of the old Morecambe & Wise gag when I was thinking about Ritchie Blackmore’s set-list at Birmingham tonight. Pretty much all of the songs that I very much hoped he’d play were in there – but the set order seemed to be in random shuffle mode with little attempt at any sort of thematic approach. We jumped from the polished commercial rock of Joe Lynn Turner-era Rainbow, to Coverdale-era Deep Purple, to the infectious pop-rock of Graham Bonnet, to the heavy prog-tinged majesty of Dio-era Rainbow and so on and so on. I suppose the main message was: “I have been involved with creating some amazing music in different bands with different vocalists and different styles – and whichever order you put them in they are all amazing…” Which is true!

After years away from doing gigs of this type and making albums like this Blackmore’s stunning guitar skills have not dimmed. Never guilty of being flashy for the sake of being flashy or of putting technical prowess ahead of creating beautiful melody, there is an elegance about his playing that is a joy to see live. Ronnie Romero, too, I thought was a good choice of vocalist. Of all the iconic vocalists Blackmore has worked with over the years, Romero probably sounds closest to Joe Lynn Turner in style, but he handled all of the material well from Gillan through to Coverdale, Dio, Bonnet and Turner. Towards the end a keyboard solo seemed to go on forever but that is a minor quibble. At the age of 51, the teenage rock fan in me has finally got see Ritchie Blackmore live on stage and has finally got to attend a Rainbow gig. He is happy.

Set-list – Sweet:

Action
Hellraiser
The Six Teens
Set Me Free
Teenage Rampage
Wig Wam Bam / Little Willy
Love Is Like Oxygen
Fox On The Run
Blockbuster
Ballroom Blitz

http://www.thesweet.com/

Set-list – Rainbow:

Spotlight Kid
I Surrender
Mistreated
Since You Been Gone
Man on the Silver Mountain
Soldier of Fortune
Perfect Strangers
Difficult to Cure
All Night Long
Child in Time
Stargazer
Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
Lazy
Catch the Rainbow
Black Night
Carry On… Jon
Burn
Smoke on the Water

http://www.ritchieblackmore.info/

ritchie-blackmores-rainbow-17

Review: Giants Of Rock Weekend 2017, Minehead

Giants Of Rock took place at Butlins Minehead again this January for the the fourth year running. Apart from the first year (when I was already booked into another Butlins music weekend the week before) I’ve been each time. With three days of music, two main stages and a smaller ‘introducing’ stage there is always plenty to choose from but here are the performances that particularly captured my imagination this year.

Friday

Eschewing both main stages for the first start of the Friday evening programme, we opted instead for The Troy Redfern Band on the introducing stage. I’d seen Troy and co a couple of times before so it was less of an introduction and more of welcome re-acquaintance with the band’s high-octane brand of blues rock. It’s good to see the band go down well.

the-troy-redfern-band-5
Photo credit: Elise Benjamin

http://troyredfern.com/

After Troy we moved to one of the main stages for a gloriously bonkers set by Dutch flute-playing, Hammond-pounding, yodelling prog-rockers, Focus, which gave all of us in the crowd the chance to let ourselves go wild to a suitably deranged version of Hocus Pocus.

Focus #5.JPG
Photo credit: Elise Benjamin

http://www.focustheband.com/

Former Gillan guitar legend, Bernie Tormé, is on next and delivers a blistering set as always. Consistently original, the self-styled glam punk shredmeister has been enjoying a real career renaissance of late with two very well-received solo albums and a third on the way. With drummer, Ian Harris, and bass-player, Chris Heilmann, these three make a classic power trio which is the perfect showcase for Torme’s  guitar wizardry. Not only are the Minehead crowd treated to a great selection of some of the more recent material we also get some Gillan-era classics, too, like No Easy Way and New Orleans and a stonking Smoke On The Water as an encore (the first but not the last time we would be hearing that particular song over the weekend). It was a fantastic end to the first night.

bernie-minehead
Photo credit: Lisa Valder

http://www.bernietorme.co.uk/

Saturday

Live Dead 69 are a reincarnation of The Grateful Dead with original keyboard player, Tom Constanten, currently touring the UK performing the band’s classic Live/Dead album in full. The Grateful Dead are not a band I’m hugely familiar with, although I’ve long been aware of the epic jams which the band are renowned for. A brilliant bunch of musicians, I was finding the initial part of their set perhaps a little too jazzy for my tastes. But then more of a blues rock vibe kicked in and I found myself more and more drawn in. Certainly, I’m pleased to have tasted a little of what this legendary band were all about.

Living Dead 69 #20.JPG
Photo credit: Elise Benjamin

http://www.tomconstanten.com/

To kick things off on the Saturday night, Bernie Marsden was an obvious choice for me. I’ve seen him solo several times before (plus, of course, I saw him with the classic Whitesnake line-up back in the day) but this is a completely solo set – just Bernie and an acoustic guitar. He completely holds the audience for the full hour: some solo blues material, some Peter Green material and, of course, some Whitesnake material, the latter turning into a beautifully intimate communal sing-along to the likes of Ain’t Gonna Cry No More and Here I Go Again. Superb.

bernie-marsden-8
Photo credit: Elise Benjamin

http://www.berniemarsden.co.uk/

With a quick change of venue we were ready for Ian Paice with Purpendicular. OK, Giants of Rock is not supposed to be about tribute bands but here you’ve got the legendary Deep Purple drummer himself, together with a cracking bunch of musicians. They absolutely nail the Mark 2-era Deep Purple sound, from the chugging bass lines, to the majestic Hammond organ, to the blinding guitar solos, to the Gillan-esque screams.

dscn9686
Photo credit: Elise Benjamin

http://purpendicular.eu/

To round off Saturday we had a non-stop run-through of Saxon classics by Oliver Dawson Saxon. Original Saxon members, Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson, have been touring their alternative version of the Barnsley NWOBHM heroes for twenty years now and, impressed as I am with Biff Byford’s continuing version of the original Saxon, Oliver and Dawson do also offer something brilliantly entertaining. Lead singer, Bri Shaughnessy is a powerful vocalist and a charismatic front-man in his own right and he has absolutely made what might have been a difficult role his own. And as you can never really have too many crowd sing-alongs to classics like Denim And Leather, 747 (Strangers In The Night) and Wheels Of Steel, the fact that there is not just one but two bands out on the road doing this is a bonus in my view.

dscn9714
Photo credit: Elise Benjamin

http://www.oliverdawsonsaxon.co.uk/odsroot/

Sunday

In spite of a love 60s R&B bands, I’d never actually managed to see The Pretty Things live until now or even listened to one of their albums in full. But front-man Phil May and guitarist Dick Taylor still cut it live after more than half a century together. The two original members are joined by second guitarist/harmonica player, Frank Holland, who has been playing with them since the late eighties, together with a fantastically energetic young rhythm section in Jack Greenwood and George Woosey. Obviously, a band that’s been around since 1963 is going to have a hefty back catalogue to choose from and, while I enjoyed the whole set, I found they had more to offer when they concentrated on their mid 60s R&B period rather than their later stoner rock phase. Fortunately, the former makes up a significant part of the set and anyone who is currently enjoying the Rolling Stones new back-to-basics Blue & Lonesome album and wants an authentic slice of 60s rhythm and blues should certainly try and get to see The Pretty Things live.

dscn9805
Photo credit: Elise Benjamin

http://www.theprettythings.com/

Still in the mood for more music after The Pretty Things, we headed off to the introducing stage and arrived just in time to see an awesome performance from the band KilliT. Great vocals. Great musicianship. Great guitar solos. Great stage presence. And, importantly, great songs, too. Instantly memorable numbers like Calm Before The Storm and Shut It Down from their debut album meant that this classic-sounding heavy metal band could wow the audience with some classic-sounding heavy metal songs. The best new hard rock band I’ve heard in ages, I was genuinely delighted for them when they were officially voted top act on the introducing stage that day. That means they will be back at Giants Of Rock to perform on the main stage next year. KilliT are a new band that have clearly arrived fully formed and deserve to go far.

killit-mineheadPhoto credit: Sally Newhouse

http://www.killitband.com/

That pretty much wraps up a brilliant weekend of music for me. There were more bands on the Sunday evening and for head-liners that night punters had a choice between Steve Hackett doing Genesis or Ian Anderson doing Jethro Tull. I looked in on both but it was all getting a bit proggy for me and I just didn’t seem to have my prog head on. Reflecting on what a great range of performances I’d witnessed over the weekend, I was happy to call it a night.

A great bunch of bands. A great crowd. A great weekend. Here’s to Giants Of Rock 2018.

Rock: album review – Whitesnake ‘The Purple Album’

As I’ve noted before, it’s understandable on the one hand but a real shame on the other that classic Deep Purple songs from the Mark 3 and Mark 4 eras are now all but forgotten by the band themselves. So efforts by both Glenn Hughes and now David Coverdale to celebrate the legacy of that era of the band and keep the music alive are to be applauded. Certainly in a live context anyway. But the question is do we actually need a CD of the David Coverdale-fronted Whitesnake performing cover versions from the David Coverdale-fronted Deep Purple?

I was a little bit sceptical and refrained from buying the album for several months. But seeing Coverdale’s erstwhile Purple bandmate, Glenn Hughes, the other month re-awakened my interest in all things Mark 3. So it was that I put this CD on my Christmas Present list.

And the verdict? There’s no doubt from the lengthy sleeve-notes penned by Coverdale of the passion and pride he feels for the musical output of his former band. And The Purple Album revisits thirteen tracks from the three albums (Burn, Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band) of the Coverdale-fronted Purple. They don’t attempt to be exact replicas of the originals. But while the tunes on the album have the sound and feel of the modern Whitesnake in many ways, neither have they been messed around with too much either. There’s great versions of Burn, You Fool No-one, Mistreated and Stormbreaker and there’s some great guitar work from Whitesnake guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekestra. And there’s some nice, gentle and beautifully melodic versions of Sail Away, Holy Man and Soldier of Fortune, too.

Obviously, if you have not already got the Burn, Stormbringer or Come Taste The Band albums then get those before you think about buying this. But as a celebration of the tunes from those classic albums this is worth having. Because yes – those tunes certainly deserve to be celebrated.

Released May 2015

http://www.whitesnake.com/

The_Purple_Album_by_Whitesnake

Related reviews:
Glenn Hughes at The Electric Ballroom
Deep Purple at The O2

Deep Purple at The O2 3/12/15

In the world of classic rock/heritage rock/dad rock, call it what you will, three out of five members from the heyday era of a late 60s/early 70s rock band is pretty good going these days. So those buying a ticket for Deep Purple at the O2 still get to see Ian Gillan on stage, joined by the rhythm section for much of the band’s history Ian Paice and Roger Glover, just like when the classic Mark 2 incarnation of the band recorded Deep Purple In Rock, Machine Head and Made in Japan. And while Ian Gillan, Ian Paice and Roger Glover are on fine form tonight it would be unfair to suggest that it is only the presence of these three that make the band worth seeing.

Guitarist, Steve Morse, has now been with the band 21 years, joining not long after Ritchie Blackmore walked out seemingly for the very last time. And keyboard player, Don Airey, who many will recall from his time in Blackmore’s original post-Purple project Rainbow, has now been with the band 13 years, ever since founding keyboardist Jon Lord retired from the band before tragically succumbing to cancer. Both of these“new boys” are serious, world-class, heavyweight additions to the band as they demonstrate tonight.

Set-wise there’s a lot that fans of 1972’s Made In Japan (one of the best live rock albums of all time) will be familiar with: Highway Star, Strange Kind of Woman, The Mule, Lazy, Space Truckin’, Smoke on the Water (everything from the acclaimed live album, in fact, bar Child In Time). The classic 70s tracks are complemented by a few “best of the rest” from the post-84 period, like Perfect Strangers, as well as stand-out tracks from the latest album Now What?! It being a gig by 70s rock legends, of course, there are the obligatory solo spots: guitar solo, drum solo, bass solo and a gloriously eccentric keyboard solo from Don Airey (encompassing everything from Land of Hope and Glory to Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner (Elgar meets Chas and Dave?)

The O2 is a great venue for really big arena gigs in many respects. But I’ve noticed on several different occasions now that for those in the banks of seating around the sides, where we were seated tonight, the audience can take a little bit of time to warm up. Clearly, they were enjoying it. But unlike those on the main floor the audience remained resolutely seated. Given I was starting to get cramp and given there was no way I was going to remain seated for Smoke On The Water I decided that as soon as I heard the opening da da der – da da da der, I would jump up in my seat and hope that everyone else would follow me. They did. And the band stormed through Smoke, through their first ever single Hush and, finally, through a roaring version of Black Knight. The crowd lapped it up. O2 audiences can take a bit of warming up but they get there in the end.

Setlist:
Highway Star
Bloodsucker
Hard Lovin’ Man
Strange Kind of Woman
Vincent Price
Uncommon Man
The Well-Dressed Guitar
The Mule
Lazy
Demon’s EyeH
Hell to Pay
Perfect Strangers
Space Truckin’
Smoke on the Water
Hush
Black Night

http://www.deeppurple.com/

2015-12-03 20.47.36

Glenn Hughes at The Electric Ballroom 1/11/15

In my professional life I once played a small part in the successful campaign to help save Camden Town’s Electric Ballroom from demolition. So ten years on, at a time when so many venues have closed, it feels good to be standing in this legendary place waiting for the even more legendary Glenn Hughes to take the stage. Tonight’s gig in Camden is the final night of a solo world tour that features Doug Aldrich on guitar and Pontus Engborg on drums.

I’ve been a fan of Deep Purple virtually as long as I’ve been a fan of rock music. And although I’ve always loved the Gillan-fronted Mark 2 era albums I also love the output of Mark 3 era Deep Purple, too. And what made those albums particularly distinctive, had much to do with the influence of a certain Mr Glenn Hughes who brought his pitch-perfect harmony vocals and inventive funked-up bass playing to the party.

But whereas, post-Deep Purple, the other Mark 2/Mark 3 members all found gainful employment in three of the biggest heavy rock bands of the time, namely Rainbow, Whitesnake and Gillan, Glenn Hughes seemed to be left to one side a little. Of course, he continued gigging and recording in various projects. But, arguably, it wasn’t until the arrival of Black Country Communion, a 21st century take on the old early-70s “super-group” concept, did he really have a project to match the significance of his Purple days. Like every supergroup before it, Black Country Communion eventually fell apart but was superceded by yet another supergroup, California Breed, one that also ended up going the same way. So Hughes is back touring as a solo artist and tells the audience tonight that’s absolutely the way he intends to keep it from now on.

Few artists look as joyous to be on stage as Glenn Hughes or as appreciative of the audience. He genuinely looked like he was enjoying every single minute. After starting with a suitably heavy version of Stormbringer, the set tonight took us through songs from various stages of his long career. Deep Purple, of course, but also Trapeze, Hughes-Thrall and, more recently, Black Country Communion – as well as highlights from his solo career.

Mistreated was a definite highlight of the evening for me and I suspect , judging by the reaction from the crowd, for much of the audience, too. And much as I’m exited at the thought of seeing the modern-day line-up of Deep Purple next month, I doubt we will see anything as majestic, soul-filled or dazzlingly, spine-tinglingly, emotionally brilliant as what we witnessed with Mistreated tonight. The latter-day Deep Purple have practically disowned the Mark 3 material and it doesn’t appear in any of the band’s setlists. So let’s be thankful Glenn Hughes is helping to keep this music alive. And so magnificently he does it, too. Arguably, his voice is holding up better than either of the two front-men most associated with Deep Purple, Ian Gillan and David Coverdale. And he certainly hits all the high notes so beautifully.

One final observation. I don’t think it was just my imagination but the crowd did seem slightly more ethnically diverse than at many similar rock gigs I’ve seen recently. Hughes’ funk-influenced bass-playing and soulful vocals always marked him out as someone who could reach out beyond the archetypal white male rock fan. And given how much he talks of the healing power of music I suspect that this would please Mr Hughes greatly.

“Thanks for coming out and supporting this guy,” said guitarist, Doug Aldrich towards the end. “One of rock’s treasures.” Indeed he is.

Setlist:
Stormbringer
Orion
Way Back to the Bone
Touch My Life
First Step of Love
Sail Away
Good To Be Bad
Mistreated
Can’t Stop the Flood
One Last Soul
Soul Mover
Black Country
Burn

http://www.glennhughes.com/homenews.html

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