Deep Purple

support Heywire
author AP date 13/07/09 venue KB Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

Ah, the other classic rock concert of this summer, the much less grandiose Deep Purple were the second highlight of an otherwise metallic holiday. KB Hallen, as some of you will know, is a shabby mid-size venue which acts as an indoor sports hall on an everyday basis. Inside it the beer is expensive and the air conditioning does not work, but even so a sweaty two hours of old school rock music was not something I was prepared to miss. Even if I was the second youngest adult there. In fact, judging from the crowd, Deep Purple's concerts have turned into a kind of family outing, proud fathers bringing their sons along to show them how the old cats rock like when daddy was young.

Heywire

Tasked with warming up the crowd tonight were the Danish retrospective hard rockers Heywire. Obviously an appropriate choice by the booking agents, because the music these middle aged men churn out sounds like a carbon copy of the legends up next, albeit much less convincing and without the correct sound levels to carry their tunes. Instead, the entire performance seems a bit plastic and put on, not helped in the slightest by the vocalist's velvet gold and silver suits. When he sings, at first it sounds like a decent tribute to 70's and 80's rock music, and even the constant clipping doesn't bother me, but when he grasps at higher notes his voice just doesn't have the capacity to reach them, sinking instead into a kind of slurry, out-of-tune mess. On the show-side of things there is little to keep the crowd entertained, too, and were it not for the extremely talented bassist letting loose an endless variety of tasty licks, the music might as well be coming from a backing track.

4

Deep Purple

Now, this evening's main event, the legendary Deep Purple, credited as one of the most influential rock bands of all time, is an entirely different story. Ian Gillan steps on stage sporting a glorious, welcoming smile, greeting some crowd member he's just singled out with "Oh, hello, I didn't know you were coming tonight", setting an easygoing, informal atmosphere for the concert. Clearly these boys are much more humble than their counterparts in, say, AC/DC or something, who have that almost arrogant superstar demeanor. No, Deep Purple are down to earth despite the fact that their discography arguably holds even more gems then the aforementioned Australians'.

As a child of modern times, the names of many of those songs escape me but from what I gather the setlist tonight is nothing short of a best-of collection and especially the older songs do ring a bell as soon as their main riffs kick in. What's most admirable about this performance is that even though every band member (save for "new" guitarist Steve Morse) has more than sixty years in his tow, their energy is formidable, traveling through five or six full songs before resting and greeting the audience. Much of this rampant intro comes off the latest album, "Rapture of the Deep", and then it's time for the classics.

Clearly it's these songs that strike a chord with the older members of the audience because the level of participation (sing-alongs and jumping, pretty tame in comparison to the usual moshing and screaming we experience at metal shows) increases exponentially during the classics. No matter though, because the sound, unlike Heywire's, is stellar and contains enough punch to disturb our heartbeats. And that's what an emotive concert is about - when your heart begins to beat to the music, you know it's something special, right?

Scattered in between the songs are fantastic jam sessions and solo performances by every band member (except for Ian Gillan, who spends most of the time behind the scenes while these experiments unfold, when he's not contributing to the rhythm with his tambourine) and particularly the instrumental "Contact Lost" and the classically inspired guitar piece "The Well Dressed Guitar" into which it flows via "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" almost bring tears to my eyes, such is their soulful beauty. The concert ends in a fantastic finale composed of "Space Truckin'", "Smoke on the Water", "Hush" and "Black Night", which send us into the warm July night with a satisfied smile on our faces.

Setlist:

01. Highway Star

02. Things I Never Said

03. Wrong Man

04. Strange Kind Of Woman

05. Rapture Of The Deep

06. Fireball

07. Contact Lost

08. Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming

09. The Well Dressed Guitar

10. Wring That Neck

11. The Battle Rages On

12. Keyboard Solo

13. Perfect Strangers

14. Space Truckin'

15. Smoke On The Water

16. Hush

17. Black Night

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