Live Review: Deep Purple—2018-09-01 Jones Beach, Wantagh, New York

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Image retrieved from here.

Tracks

  1. Highway Star
  2. Pictures of Home
  3. Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
  4. Guitar Solo
  5. Uncommon Man
  6. Lazy
  7. Knocking at Your Back Door
  8. Keyboard Solo
  9. Perfect Strangers
  10. Space Truckin’
  11. Smoke on the Water
  12. Peter Gunn Theme
  13. Hush
  14. Goodbye

Note: Two songs: “Bloodsucker” and “Strange Kind of Woman” were not recorded in between “Pictures of Home” and “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming”

Personnel

Review

As a note of interest, I was at the concert immediately preceding this one, the one of August 30 in Quebec City. It was a night to remember, one which even in the darkest nights of the past year I have drawn upon. But I digress.

Unlike a few of the bands I review, this is one that is still going, and this recording was made on one of their most recent tours. It is a fairly standard night from the quintet, so can not only be used as an interesting historical occurrence, but also as a template for potential decisions. Are they worth an evening of your time?

In my opinion, there is only one answer: hell yes. Deep Purple these days are performing just as well as you might imagine. That is, they’re still kicking ass and taking names like they’ve been doing for 51 years. This recording captures their continuous strength very well. Ian Paice has kept not only power and accuracy, but a swing and a style which leaves him unmistakable. Roger Glover is dependable as ever, by now a brilliant performer as well as a brilliant musician.

Steve Morse, who is inexplicably still struggling for acceptance despite being the band’s guitarist for the longest period of time, is simply flawless. Whether as a soloist or blending in and letting Ian Gillan or Don Airey take the lead, he rocks. Besides being an incredible player who can command a solo or fill out a soundscape, Airey himself has the most energy of the lot of them, carrying the band through the last few songs when they begin to tire.

Something I have to address specifically on this theme is the single most common complaint I hear about the recent tours: the quality of the singing. It’s true that Ian Gillan is no longer as young as he used to be, and can either miss notes or tire out. Both of these things happen in this recording, with some missed notes and a bit of flagging energy in “Space Truckin'” and “Hush”. To call him on it, however, would be to assume he didn’t have occasional flubs back in the day, which he did.

Furthermore, as I’ve noted in a previous review, Ian seems to be a fairly sensitive individual whose performance seems to be negatively affected by severe tension in the band, especially at some points in the 80s and 90s. There seems to be none of it now if his output is anything to go by. The trade between a bit more energy but some strain versus slightly less of both is one I would gladly make.

In short, while there are a few issues here and there, he’s still singing brilliantly. Some nights, even these minor things don’t even crop up, and even when they do he can resolve them quickly. In fact, on the night of this recording, he was able to hit his high notes on “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” beautifully, as well as wail as well as ever.

Image result for deep purple jones beach 2018
Pictured: the opposite of “band tension”. Retrieved as a screenshot from this video.

This concert ends up being a fairly standard fair for nowadays Purple, otherwise known as ‘awesome’. From the first notes of “Highway Star”, they play with brilliance and energy which continues unhindered until “Space Truckin'”. By that point, the band sounds a tiny bit tired, but it’s barely noticeable, especially since Airey gives absolutely soaring solo spots that keeps the rest of them on their toes. Besides, it’s mostly resolved by “Hush”.

The solos performed by both main instrumentalists were nothing short of perfection. Steve Morse’s playing especially shines in his solos on “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” and “Knocking at your Back Door”. I also always love his little additions to “Perfect Strangers” and “Space Truckin'”; the latter especially gives a good “space-y” ambience that fits in well with the theme of the piece.

Don Airey, for his part, dominates as usual. His work on “Hush” and in the body of “Lazy” show how well he commands the melodic areas of the band. Also worth noting is his mid-concert solo, in which he uses his typical gimmick of grabbing local songs to work in. To me, that never gets old. This time, he uses a few songs I don’t recognize along with “America the Beautiful”.

As a note on the recording, the sound is quite clear and balanced. It fades out between most songs, which might be a little bit distracting, but is otherwise great.

I have done my best to describe a typical Deep Purple concert of the current day. While everyone will have to make a decision on their own of whether or not to go, I would personally encourage anyone who’s got the time to make a concerted effort to see them.

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  • Edit on 2020-05-16: Fixed formatting.
  • Edit on 2020-08-29: Optimized for new site

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