Monday, April 30, 2007

Faces Smiling, Every One
Originally uploaded by davehodg.
Three Deep Purple gigs in three days is always hectic and this particular hurtle round the sea-sides and metropolis was no exception.

First stop Bournemouth in time for Purple's set. It's an all-seater, but the security clearly were on to a loser trying to stem the rush to the barrier, a nice little crowd-let formed and I spent the whole set on the rail dead centre. This is always a mixed blessing since it's nice to be up close but the sound is always dreadful, all drums and guitars, little bass and no keys. Most noteworthy though was the lighting: the biggest production The setlist had a disappointing two songs from the current album, but they're goodies and the rest of the set rattled along with the usual mix of classics and the occasional slight rarity. Afterwards we repaired to a nearby Wetherspoons for friendly libations with old and new friends.

Next up, Wembley Arena. Historically, Wembley arena has been a hateful venue: an echo-laden, soulless concrete barn with ignorant goons as stewards. Amazingly, only thing remaining are the goons. As part of the redevelopment of Wembley, the arena has been flipped so the back is now the front and vice-versa; somewhat disconcerting as the corridors are vaguely familiar yet disconcertingly veering off into
unfamiliar room and stairwells. The house staff were as lovely and helpful too. And as a bonus, there are now wandering minions with backpacks of cold lager for sale!

This time I made a point of seeing Thin Lizzy. Or should that be White Lizzy, what with Aldridge and Mendoza in the band? Either way, a jolly good rock and roll romp provided you leave your Lynott nostalgia at the door. John Sykes is a good front man and almost has the vocals
covered. His sparring with Gorham is great fun too. Recommended! Saw a fair chunk of Styx too, I can see they're very good at what they do but not having any history with the band, I found it tough to get

Finally, ten minutes early, the main act. Gillan introduces the show with "welcome to the shit-hole Wembley" or somesuch. I'm hoping he got to eat those words. He even went walkabout as the goons try to suppress the enjoyment but finally the crowd is allowed to get to its feet and jump around. Pretty much a sell-out and a GREAT show. I took a wander to see what the sound was like around the hall and it was amazing. Even Mr. Sykes in the sound area enjoyed a good chunk of the show.

Best. Deep Purple. Wembley Show ever.

Finally got back to my place at about four (thanks for the lift!) and up again at ten for the tortuous trek down through the Southern suburbs to the "Southern tip of Wardour St" aka Brighton.

Back on the rail for this, enjoy Lizzy hugely, stoke up on coffee during Styx then on snapping duties for the main event. Again, very, very good. Tight show, smiles all round, lots of dancing in the crowd. Some cheeky chop-stealing side-stage from a couple of members of the other bands. Bad Marco! Bad Lawrence!

All in all, possibly the best clutch of Purple shows I've ever seen. The production was excellent, performances tight, band relaxed and smiling and a good selection of friends old and new to sit and have *one* with afterwards. Special mention to the crew with "Bad Roadie! No Red Bull!" t-shirts.

Still smiling.

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