Deep Purple + Cheap Trick @ LG Arena, 27th November 2011

Deep Purple

Deep Purple are one of the legends of rock. Formed way back in ’68, in a time that gave us local legends Sabbath and Zeppelin, they are too are one of the pioneers, that spawned a million rock fans. And tonight they’re here at the LG Arena with a 38 piece orchestra in tow, with “The Songs That Built Rock”.

The line-up may have changed over the years (Lord, Coverdale, Blackmore, Hughes and even for a brief moment, Satriani) tonight’s lineup features drummer Ian Paice (the only member never to have left), Roger Glover (bass), Ian Gillan (vocals) plus Steve Morse (guitar) and Don Airey (keyboards). Once bestowed with the title of “Loudest Pop Group” by the Guinness Book of World Records throughout their career they’ve sold over 100 million records.

“Deep Purple: The Songs That Built Rock” is part of a World tour featuring the 38 piece Frankfurt New Philharmonic Orchestra. No strangers to this particular slant on rock – Purple performed with an orchestra as far back as 1969.

Cheap Trick

First on stage are US rockers Cheap Trick, here supporting Purple on the four dates of the UK leg of the tour. Their set is nearly an hour long and includes their hits – you found yourself singing along to ‘I Want You To Want Me.’ They go down well, a pretty good entrée to the main course.

And then just before 9, first the Orchestra fill their positions in a half circle arranged at the back of the stage. Then their conductor for tonight, Steven Bentley-Klein, takes to his podium, and bang on the dot of 9 – the Orchestra start up.

On come the band, 1972 appearing in big letters on the two side screens and we’re into the first track ‘Highway Star.’ Gillan waves to the audience, who respond accordingly. Our photographer for tonight, John Bentley, has a real challenge – we counted fifteen photographers in the pit. Purple may be the elder statesman of rock, but they can still give it some; the first track is received to rapturous applause. Second track ‘Hard Lovin’ Man’ starts of with bass, a metal riff and a scream from Gillan; a tub-tumping beat, with keyboard dabbling and orchestral support.

Deep Purple

“Fantastic! Thank you!” Gillan acknowledges the audience after ‘Strange Kinda Woman.’ “….this is the title track from our very latest CD from 5 years ago and it’s called ‘Rapture of The Deep.'”; a rock song with a deep oriental, kinda Kashmir feel to it, the Orchestra accompaniment is well suited.

The audience remain seated and refined, but clearly are enjoying tonight’s gig, shouts of “c’mon” in anticipation. “It’s all coming back,” says Gillan, “…my great pleasure to introduce the Aviator – Steve Morse” and so to their current axe merchant, who delivers a high pitched exquisite solo, mythical in sound, wind (fan) blowing in his hair.

Deep Purple

Full band back on and we have the bluesy ballad which is ‘When A Blind Man Cries’, again with the orchestra in full flow. Clap clap clap go the audience encouraged by Gillan as Morse jams away. “Thank you so much – you were wonderful…” The songs go on intermixed with solos – including one by keyboard player Airey, an exquisite montage of organ, meets piano virtuoso, plus a musical comedy mix, which makes the audience laugh, all in time with the orchestra.

Then back to the full band for ‘Lazy’, a real Orleans blues inspired number, Gillan on harmonica, the conductor pulling out an electric violin to fiddle a duel with axesmith Morse. Next up, ‘No One Came’ a galloping romp, warping guitar riffs over bouncing rhythm, given even more depth and power by the orchestra in full flow, the stage flashing in darkness and light. “Thank you, that was our dance tune…”

‘Perfect Strangers’ cranks up to a crescendo, ‘Space Trucking’ gets the crowd clapping and then to spotlights on Morse and THAT guitar riff. The audience stand and sing-a-long with the chorus, the conductor turns to conducting them. As if I need to say, that’ll be ‘Smoke on the Water’ then.

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“Fantastic. Sublime. Wonderful.” Gillan acknowledges the Orchestra and they’re off. For one of the shortest breaks I’ve seen after a main set, the crowd cheer and stamp their feet. Back on for the encore and it’s into ‘Hush’ – taking you back in time, then into a drum solo, and then a bass solo and we’re into ‘Black Night’, to a great response from the audience.

“Thank you, you’ve been great, take it easy, we love you all.”

Deep PurpleDeep Purple

Deep Purple are one of the icons of rock / metal. And for a band that have been going for so long, everyone will have their stance on which is the best model, Deep Purple I, II, III, IV et al. Rock bands with orchestras in tow have also proved to be controversial, even though this is not Purple’s first foray into such waters. Whether you like the raw sound, or this more expanded version, for a band well into their sixties (Gillan is 66), they are still clearly having a blast and I really enjoyed the orchestral experience. And they don’t plan to disappear shortly – expect another album in 2012. Tonight’s gig was circa £40 and I thought it was well worth it, for the musicianship, for the opportunity to see such a legendary band, for the alternative orchestral interpretation, and just for the sheer enjoyment. Few bands leave such a legacy; few have influenced generations. And yes, I went home with THAT riff going round my head, wondering just how many people learnt it as the first guitar riff they ever learnt. I had a text of a mate’s son. He’s just turned 18. I said I was at Deep Purple. His response: Durn durn durrrr, durn durn dedurrrr, durn dum derrrr, dum derrrrrr……..


1. Highway Star
2. Hard Lovin’ Man
3. Maybe I’m a Leo
4. Strange Kind of Woman
5. Rapture of the Deep
6. Woman from Tokyo
7. Contact Lost
8. When a Blind Man Cries
9. The Well Dressed Guitar
10. Knocking At Your Door
11. Lazy
12. No One Came
13. Perfect Strangers
14. Space Trucking
15. Smoke on the Water

16. Hush
17. Black Night

Review – Zyllah Moranne- Brown
Pictures – John Bentley

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