Grimsby, Nottingham, Oxford and London
6, 7, 10 & 22 Feb 2002
See below
See below

Big Ian Gillan and brightly attired Steve MorseI have to say 2002 has been a revelation in Deep Purple gigs.
I was lucky enough to get in early with tickets and get seats for half a dozen of the shows within the first few rows. In the old days, pre Internet, the task was a little easier as less people knew about tickets going on sale. On the 1996 tour for the few seated shows I managed front row tickets for most of them.

Musically the band kicked much harder than on the previous couple of tours I've seen (US, Germany and UK 1998), seeming to have regained some of the energy of the 1996 tour. The Albert Hall shows in 1999 were rather different in that they were supposed to be a one (then two) off but eventually they idea expanded into a whole European tour. With an orchestra and guest singers those shows were special without the different choice of music played.

The Lord, Jon, deep in concentrationChoice of music may be one of the reasons this tour seemed better to me. Gone were the tracks from Abandon (not that many actually managed to last until the UK leg of the '98 tour), an album I never really warmed to. I actually played it earlier today (21 Mar 2002) and it didn't see as bad a s I remembered but scanning the track list I'd forgotten half the songs. What sort of a Purple fan have I become? In fact since the premature end of the tour I've been delving into some of the DVDs I bought in Germany last October. Over the last few years I've played very little in the way of Purple music - I guess I'd played some of the tracks too many times as well as been buying CDs by a variety of new bands in the same period. It was nice to relive some of those past gigs (Birmingham NEC in '93 (Come Hell or High Water), the Concerto show and 3 tracks from the House of Blues in '98.

Back to the music on the tour though. The setlist for my first show, Grimsby, the second actual concert but the first on mainland Britain, ran like this:
Roger Glover and 'little' Ian Paice - a blur of activity!Woman From Tokyo
Ted The Mechanic
Mary Long
Child In Time
No One Came
The Aviator
Well Dressed Guitar
Up The Wall
Keyboard Solo leading into Perfect Strangers
When A Blind Man Cries
Smoke On The Water
Speed King
Highway Star
The following evening Black Night was added as well.

Steve Morse ringing those stringsThe set contained just six numbers that were played on the '98 tour and reintroduced a batch of oldies, and not quite so oldies, some of which had never been played in this country before. While it was nice to hear Mary Long again, especially with both the 'inspirations' for the song now having passed away, The Aviator was my particular favourite. I know it had been played later in the '96 tour, well after the band left these shores, but as it was one of my favourites from the Purpendicular CD I was glad the boys decided to give it an airing.

As well as these familiar songs a couple of new tracks were played, one just an instrumental, mainly guitar, Well Dressed Guitar, while the other actually had some lyrics - Up the Wall. Considering it has been almost 4 years since the last studio album, the aforementioned Abandon, and that rumours and expectation were that these shows would preview a number of new tunes, I and I'm sure others were a touch disappointed. While new material may not have been abundant enthusiasm and smiles certainly were. Gone were the workmanlike performances of '98 and back came a spark that shone at each of the four shows I witnessed.

Jon Lord seemed to be quite high in the mix, rather a surprise at first, which made a pleasant change to the last ten years. I understand that the sound people are the same so quite why there should be as obvious a change I don't know. The lack of volume was certainly a common complaint from fans on previous tours. Whatever the reason I think almost the entire audience was happy with the change.

Ian Paice keeping the beatThe best surprise of all had to be the fact that Ian Gillan seems to have regained his voice - so much so that they even played Child in Time for the first time in almost 10 years. Admittedly there was electronic trickery afoot in a minor way but the voice really did soar. Obviously keeping the song early in the set helped, as did a good cough before the introduction, but it was a pleasure to see Mr Gillan attempting such a hard song again. .

The down side of the return to vocal form was that when he catches a cold he certainly catches a cold. I'd booked tickets for the early part of the tour in the hope that they may have juggled the set around as on the first few shows of the '96 tour. This was not to be but it did mean that I saw some of the better shows. About a week after my third show of the tour (and 50th overall) Ian caught a bad cold and the Birmingham NEC show was postponed by a week. The following shows were by all accounts below par vocally and this was still the case at the Hammersmith Apollo (better known as the Hammy O to us oldies) show which was being videoed. The second night, and the rest of the tour, were postponed soon after they left the stage so those poor people that had travelled from around the world for the Saturday show were in for a nasty shock. In fact so was I as my sister had flown down from Aberdeen to see the band and the first we knew of the cancellation was when we turned up at the doors around 7pm. In some ways I was glad as it meant we should see a better performance but there was a darker side which I'll go into later.
If you think these pictures are good then wait to see the ones I use with the reviews!
Should you nick these pictures for use on CDRs of the shows then please have the decency to send me a copy - especially of the Oxford show. Email me at the link below.

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