Deep Purple kicked off their Australian tour this week in Brisbane, supported by Melbourne band, Electric Mary. The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre might not have the capacity of the Entertainment Centre at Boondall but, on Tuesday night, it was loud and rockin’ as the undisputed masters of hard rock took to the stage and blasted out their classic brand of rock and roll to a room packed with devoted followers.
Five piece rock band Electric Mary, led by vocalist Rusty Brown, revved up the audience with a short but powerful set of bluesy heavy rock and had an obviously loyal group of fans pressed up against the stage from the moment they appeared, paving the way for the band that everyone had come to see…
Deep Purple took to the stage amid thunderous applause and loud screams as the opened with ‘Highway Star’ - always a good heart starter for a Deep Purple concert and it certainly had the Brisbane crowd on their feet from the very beginning. The set list included tracks from old albums and new, classic hits and some less well known songs but each and every one had that unique Deep Purple stamp of true rock. From ‘Things I Never Said’ and ‘Strange Kind of Woman’ to ‘Wasted Sunsets’ and the title track of their most recent studio album ‘Rapture of the Deep’.
Steve Morse had some pretty big shoes to fill when he replaced the legendary Ritchie Blackmore in 1994. His playing style is very different to that of the former Deep Purple guitarist but, on Tuesday night, Morse showed us what a true maestro of the instrument he really is with an incredible guitar solo!
Deep Purple has had numerous line-up changes since they first emerged on to the music scene in 1968 but the line-up currently touring Australia, with Ian Gillan on vocals, Roger Glover on bass, Ian Paice on drums, Steve Morse on guitar and David Airey on keyboards, has been together for almost a decade and I couldn’t help but notice the smiles that seemed to be permanently stuck on their faces throughout the night. These guys actually enjoy what they do and that enjoyment was felt, in turn, by the fans as the crowd lapped up every rockin’ moment.
Before playing ‘Mary Long’, Gillan spent a few minutes explaining the story behind the song about a hypocritical ‘composite’ character based on real life anti pornography campaigners, Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford.
Finishing ‘No One Came’, a track from the 1971 album ‘Fireball’, Gillan announced that the next song would be ‘The Battle Rages On’. At this point, Airey was quick to remind him that it was time for the keyboardist to perform his solo. Apologising, Gillan stepped aside, as did the other band members, giving the stage over to Airey, who dazzled us with an impressive medley of tunes ranging from classical overtures to classic Aussie anthems. ‘Advance Australia Fair’ and ‘Waltzing Matilda’ never sounded quite like this before! And the nod to local culture met with loud approval from the audience.
The opening strains of the much loved ‘Space Truckin’ quickly brought the entire room to its feet and there was an almighty roar as the crowd chanted the chorus ‘Let’s go Space Truckin’. But, of course, there was no mistaking that most familiar of all rock riffs as the band launched into the song that has, undoubtedly, become the classic rock song of all time, ‘Smoke On The Water’ in which vocalist Gillan invited the energized audience to sing the chorus. And, of course, they did – loudly!
After leaving the stage briefly, the guys returned for the encore. The atmosphere was building with the intro to their early hit, ‘Hush’ (a song originally recorded by Billy Joe Royal in 1967), and closing with one of the band’s biggest hits from the early 70’s, ‘Black Night’. A brilliant end to an amazing night of rock and roll at its absolute best!
My only disappointment with the show – and a sentiment echoed by other fans on the night, was the absence of ‘Woman From Tokyo’ from an otherwise perfect set. But I’m not complaining. It was an amazing experience just to be there, with one of the world’s greatest rock bands doing what they do best – ROCK!
Review by Sharyn Hamey