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Concert review: Deep Purple anything but lazy in Scottsdale

Deep Purple in concert, August 4, 2014, Scottsdale, AZ
Deep Purple in concert, August 4, 2014, Scottsdale, AZ
Ted Hansen

Deep Purple in concert, August 4, 2014, Scottsdale, AZ

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In a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Deep Purple’s lead singer, Ian Gillan, when responding to why Deep Purple was not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stated “I've heard quotes of somebody on the [Rock Hall voting] committee saying, "Well, Deep Purple can't be in it, because they were a one-hit wonder." I don't know if they were referring to "Hush" or "Smoke in the Water" or "Child in Time" or "Highway Star" or "Perfect Strangers," any of those one-hit wonders that we were.” Fortunately, to the delight of those in attendance at the Talking Stick Resort Grand Ballroom in Scottsdale on Monday night, August 4, 2014, Deep Purple played at least four of those “one-hit wonders.”

Deep Purple in concert, August 4, 2014, Scottsdale, AZ
Ted Hansen

Not only did Deep Purple cover most of their “one-hit wonders,” but they did a whole lot more, including a nice sampling from their latest album, 2013’s “Now What ?!.” With songs such as “Vincent Price,” “Hell to Pay,” and “Uncommon Man” from the new album, the members of Deep Purple showed that they still can create and deliver the kick ass rock and roll their fans have come to expect.

Fair or not, many people associate the members of Deep Purple with the band’s “Smoke on the Water” days (and yes, it could be argued that ever since that song’s release back in 1972, every day after that has been a “Smoke on the Water” day for Deep Purple). The core of the Mark II version of Deep Purple, drummer, Ian Paice, bass player Roger Glover and lead singer, Ian Gillan remains. Former Dixie Dregs and Kansas guitarist, Steve Morse, joined the band in 1994. The final piece of the current Deep Purple lineup was added in 2002 when Don Airey took over keyboard duties from the retiring Jon Lord.

Although the band had many options to choose from to open their set, the selection of “Highway Star,” was exactly what the Scottsdale crowd was looking for. They rabidly stood, pounded the air with their fists, sang along and jostled with each other to get a better view as Gillan’s familiar vocals filled the venue. As they would be all night long, Morse’s and Airey’s brief solos were a testament to their craft.

A pair of songs, “Into the Fire,” and “Hard Lovin’ Man” from 1970’s “Deep Purple in Rock,” the first album the Mark II version of Deep Purple recorded, followed. Given how at home the songs sounded compared with today’s hard rock sound, it’s easy to forget that those songs were part of the birth of the heavy metal movement.

After another sing-a-long, bob your head, fire your devil horns into the air number, “Strange Kind of Woman,” Gillan introduced the first of their songs from the “Now What?!” album, “Vincent Price.” The crowd treated the new song as heartily as if it had been in the Deep Purple repertoire for years.

Morse showed why readers of “Guitar Magazine” voted him “Best Overall Guitar Player,” five years in a row as he created his unique sounds out of his guitar for “Contact Lost.” The song segued into “Uncommon Man,” with Airey’s keyboard work giving the song a progressive rock flavor. But Paice, Glover and Morse kept the heavy metal sound alive and the result was a great mash up of the two genres.

It’s easy to dismiss members of a band known for their heavy metal music as being noisemakers and not much more. But the musicianship of each of the members of Deep Purple is top notch. As the concert progressed, Paice, Airey, Morse and Glover each had their own solo moments, all of which were inspired. Airey’s classical piano training was evident during his showcase and Paice enhanced his drum solo with the tips of his drumsticks lighted so that the crowd could marvel at how quickly he moved.

Anyone who might have taken a sit down break during Airey’s solo, were quickly back up for another “one-hit wonder,” “Perfect Strangers.” The song’s snake charmer guitar riff once again caused the mob to raise their devil horns high.

With Gillan’s lead, the crowd loudly sang “come on” that is part of the chorus to “Space Truckin.’”
Gillan wisely chose to go low on his notes rather than strain for the high part that not many could have hit forty years ago, let alone today.

Although diehard fans of a band can recognize most songs by the song’s opening notes, there are a handful of iconic rock songs that any music lover can recognize from the beginning. As Morse struck the twelve note guitar riff that every person who picks up a guitar wants to learn, the crowd erupted for “Smoke on the Water.” There was no need for the band to try and coax enthusiasm from the audience. The song spoke for itself.

Any lack of an encore might have caused the crowd to burn down the gambling house, so Deep Purple kept the fire marshals at bay, returning with their heavy metal interpretation of Booker T and the M.G.’s “Green Onions.” An equally heavy, lengthy version of “Hush,” kept the night going with the audience drowning out the band when singing the song’s “na na na na.”

Glover got his moment in the spotlight with a solo before the band closed out their hour and forty five minute night with “Black Night.” Smiles were seen on each member of the band as they played, Morse doing one last solo that included part of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2.” Like they would at any sporting event, the audience shouted out “hey,” when the song called for it.

Because Deep Purple is one of those few touring bands that cover almost every inch of the globe, it had been seven long years since Deep Purple had come to the Phoenix area, the last time coinciding with the release of the album “Rapture of the Deep.” If it takes a new album to get Deep Purple back to Phoenix, those that attended Monday night’s concert are hoping that a new album will come out soon (it won’t).

But for this night, Deep Purple’s Arizona following got their fill of “one-hit wonders.” It’s a good thing. It may be a long time before the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame considers the band that released “Machine Head,” as being as worthy of an induction. After all, songs from that album or those from “Deep Purple in Rock” or “Fireball” are certainly no match for “Sara Smile,” from this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Hall and Oates.

Set List: Highway Star | Into The Fire | Hard Lovin’ Man | Strange Kind Of Woman | Vincent Price | Contact Lost | Uncommon Man | The Well-Dressed Guitar | The Mule | Lazy | Hell To Pay | Don Airey Keyboard Solo | Perfect Strangers | Space Truckin’ | Smoke On The Water | Encore: Green Onions | Hush | Roger Glover Bass Solo | Black Night