Tour Guide: Don Airey’s Debut Tour

Deep Purple’s Europe 2001 tour was probably expected to be a run-of-the-mill tour for Deep Purple. They were composed of their most drama-free lineup they’d ever seen. Fireball had been released 30 years prior, so composed the majority of the setlist for these days. They had completed a successful North American tour a month prior.

Then, however, less than a week before the tour, Jon Lord injured his knee. The band was forced to pull in a last-minute replacement, Don Airey. Airey had previously played with Roger Glover in Rainbow (where he’d even played the occasional “Lazy” or “Smoke on the Water”!) and Ian Paice with Gary Moore’s band. He’d even played with Jon Lord on a project in the early 90s.

Airey was busy with a scoring project besides, but still found the time to learn the setlist with just three days’ notice. Judging by photos, he may still have been working on exact details on the first night!

Don Airey at the Skanderborg Festival, his first gig with Deep Purple. Photo by Morten Overgaard. Retrieved from here.

From the first handful of gigs, the chemistry which has characterized this lineup is palpable. Airey and Steve Morse, drawn from their shared background in jazz fusion and hefty classical chops, brought the improvisation which had always characterized the band to new heights. As the tour went on, recordings show the mood of the group lifted even further, and they sounded freer than they had in a long time.

The group played 21 gigs in total, with a twenty-second cancelled. Amazingly, 19 of them are known to have been recorded.

Below is a chart of all their known gigs, planned gigs and TV appearances. There will be links taking you to gigs I’ve either covered or reviewed. Anything else pertinent (venue info from another gig, etc) will also be linked.

DateLocationRecorded?CoverageOther
2001-08-09“Danmarks Smukkeste Festival” Skanderborg, DENNoHereSaid to be recorded; actually is the 5-øren
2001-08-10“Drøbakfestivalen” Drøbak, NORYes (partial)Here
2001-08-11Helsingborg, Hamntorget, Tivoli, SWEYes
2001-08-125-øren, Copenhagen, DENYesAlso videoed
2001-08-14“Rock Summer 2001” Stadhalle, Rostock, GERNo
2001-08-15“Rock Summer 2001” Elbwiesen, Dresden, GERYes
2001-08-17Großer Elzpark, Mosbach, GERYes
2001-08-18“Open Air Gampel” Bühne 1, Gampel, SUIYes (partial)
2001-08-19Museumsplatz, Bonn, GERYes
2001-08-21“Rock Summer 2001” Peißnitzinsel, Halle, GERYes
2001-08-22“Summer Rock 2001” [sic] Park des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Nürnberg, GERYes
2001-08-24“Sporting Summer Festival” Salle Des Etoiles, Monte Carlo, MONYes
2001-08-25“Sporting Summer Festival” Salle Des Etoiles, Monte Carlo, MONYes
2001-08-26“Sporting Summer Festival” Salle Des Etoiles, Monte Carlo, MONYes
2001-08-28“Festa de l’ Unita” Palasport, Genova, ITAYes
2001-08-29Conegliano, Campo Fiero Santa Lucia, Treviso, ITAYes
2001-08-30“Frogstock Festival” Riolo Terme, Parco Fluviale, Ravenna, ITAYes
2001-09-01Palastampa, Torino (Turin), ITAYes
2001-09-02Ospedaletto, Area Expo, Trento, ITAYes
2001-09-04Lycabettus Theater, Athens, GREYes
2001-09-05Earth Theater, Thessaloniki, GREYes
2001-09-06Fidalmi Arena, Istanbul, TURN/AN/ACancelled

If you attended any of these concerts, please fill out this survey to help me tell the story of this tour.

This tour is a remarkable one in Deep Purple’s history, both because it showed remarkable musical ability by the quintet involved and because it marked the birth of the longest-lasting lineup Deep Purple has ever had. I will be bringing you special coverage of this tour as a part of a larger project I’m preparing for later this year for this blog. Stay tuned for the rest of the story!

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