|There’s a mousey woman in her 50s wearing sensible spectacles and short curly grey hair. By day she probably works in a library or a public records office. And over there stands a respectable, overweight gentleman aged about 65 who is perhaps a retired bank manager. Next to me is a tall, thin man in his mid-20s with long straight black hair down to his waist and a leather jacket.|
Along with more than 1,000 others we’re here to see Deep Purple who have had 38 years to attract all kinds of people to their music. It’s the first night of two years of touring for the band and I’m unfeasibly excited. The five men we have come to see have a combined age of more than 280 years. That’s a huge amount of rock experience. Last time I saw them was in the soul-less barn-like NEC two years ago but tonight we’re in the intimate Astoria theatre in London. They could not fail to please.
Tradition would have it that it’s not ‘cool’ for rock stars to smile. The members of Deep Purple don’t hold with this. They grinned their way through two hours of solid rock, streaked with veins of pumping funk, dirty blues, classical baroque interludes and beautiful, soaring guitar melodies. These are not angry young men. Quite the reverse, in fact.
With the energy and enthusiasm of schoolboys they beamed their way through no fewer than seven songs from their 2005 album ‘Rapture of the Deep’, five off ‘Machine Head’ from 1972 and two from their 1996 album ‘Purpendicular’. The surprise of the evening was ‘Living Wreck’ from 1970′s ‘In Rock’. The lifelong Purple fans who I stood with had never seen them perform this live before and were thrilled.
Of course they performed their big, fat, crowd-pleasing rock classics ‘Space Truckin”, ‘Highway Star’, ‘Smoke on the Water’ and finally left the audience buzzing with ‘Black Night’. All sounded fresh and from the grinning faces on stage the band still loved to play them as much as the audience needed to hear their anthems.
The mousey woman rocked, head-banged and sweated; the respectable gentleman nodded his head to the beat; the tall, thin mid-20s man stood still, watching and smiling and I bounced around for two hours unable to stop myself despite knowing that my legs would suffer the day after. If 38 years of rock ‘n’ roll leaves you looking as good and smiling as brightly as it does for Ian Gillan, Steve Morse, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Don Airey, and, then please keep it coming, chaps. It’s obviously good for your health.
Find out more about Deep Purple here.