Tag Archive: LG Arena

Peter Gabriel + Jenny & Linnea @ LG Arena, Birmingham, 28 November 2014

Tonight to the last time for this particular Gig Junkies team at the LG Arena before it morphs into the Genting Arena. We’re here to see a performer who founded one of the biggest bands in rock history way back in 1967, who became prog rock legends. Just seven years in he left, they went on to sell over 140 million records – but he didn’t do too bad, businessman, singer-songwriter, record producer, humanitarian activist, and a solo performer in his own right – tonight he’ll be performing his classic,  most commercial and ridiculously successful 1986 album in it’s entirety – welcome tonight Mr. Peter Gabriel, performing “Back to Front’ including ‘So’ in it’s entirety.
PG-11
When Genesis started out in the late 60’s early 70’s they were different, prog rock, bizarre costumes and art. Internal frictions amongst other reasons meant in the mid 70’s Gabriel walked – paving the way for drummer Phil Collins to take up the vocal mantel and the commercial success the other members went on to have as Genesis, solo artists and supergroups is legendary. Meanwhile Gabriel stuck to his creative roots issuing his own unique solo albums. Then came ‘So’. To put in context just how successful this album went fivefold platinum in the states, triple platinum the UK, spawning five singles and a Grammy nomination. Single ‘Sledgehammer’ with the iconic plasticine animation, reached #1 in the US Billboard charts and won a record ten MTV awards. It is still the most played music video ever on MTV.

But commerciality isn’t, and never has been, what Peter Gabriel is about. It’s concept, music, journey, detail, art, performance. Tonight we will be treated to yes, ‘So.’ in it’s entirety – but also other songs in an entirely different manner.

First up at 8pm we have two ladies on stage, who will both be part of Gabriel’s band later in the evening, Jennie Abrahamson and Linnea Olsson; Abrahamson being accompanied by Olsson on cello.  Abrahamson is from Sweden, a place known for breeding bands and artists in the line of “northern melancholy”; she’s only  kept a slight tint of that moodiness in her richly coloured and playful pop tunes. Critics have called her a “younger, more accessible Kate Bush”.

And then – slightly earlier than planned – Peter Gabriel takes to the stage. Tonight he’ll be performing with his ‘So’ live band – bass-wizard Tony Levin, guitarist David Rhodes, keyboardist David Sancious and drummer Manu Katche. The set appears clutter with equipment,  blazing white light blast across the stage from the sides. Gabriel gives us a hint of tonight’s performance. It will be a ‘meal’ of three courses – the starter is semi acoustic and experimental, the second, a savoury dish, is electronic, the third, “if you survive that far that is”, the complete album of ‘So.’

‘What Lies Ahead’ is a work in progress, with Levin on guitar and Olsson on cello, Gabriel sings from his piano – beautifully haunting. The arena house lights are still on as the other band members join him on stage.  ‘Come Talk to Me’ has an acoustic drumbeat, and Celtish rising melody – the crowd give a big cheer upon completion. This entree is laid back, like a studio music session we’re invited into. And then the next song starts up – stripped back – but we recognise it – ‘Shock the Monkey’ which rises to a funky beat. He get’s up clapping – and we’re singing. Class.

Next up ‘Family Snapshot’ – Gabriel on piano – just his voice – before the house light’s drop, the lights shone in monotone, ballad, power, beauty, ballad. And the cluttered stage comes alive – there are five triple lighted mobile rigs – like triffids rising from the shadows.

We’re into part 2. ‘Digging in the Dirt’ is dark electronic funk – the ‘triffids’ float around the stage, up and down, round and round, the two screens at the side of the stage take the feeds from many stage cameras, edited monotone, industrial effect – white circles on the floor – filmed from above, him in the centre. Gabriel takes to the front of the stage – he’s walking around, becoming a character – tambourine in hand – to huge applause. ‘The Family & the Fishing Net’ is prog rock electronic darkness, one of the lighting ‘triffids’ travels to the front of the stage – the crew dressed in boilers suits and masks – the ‘triffid’ becomes part of the performance – a camera is in its lit ‘head’ – and we can see Gabriel interacting in detail on the screens. And next up – ‘triffid’ back to is place behind the set – the band ‘fights’ with all five of them in ‘No Self Control’ – almost a fight against industry. ‘Solsbury Hill’ written about the real spiritual place in Somerset, the set is finally sepia from monotone – Gabriel and the band are skipping – we’re singing – an upbeat, joyful, smiley song.

Big Cheer – ‘Why Don’t You Show Yourself’ – is the last track from part 2 – and then here we go. Part 3. ‘So.’

The rising ‘Red Rain’ sets the stage bright red – heavier and far more powerful live than on album – beautifully performed. Then a cheeky little beat – before THAT melody – ’Slegehammer.’ We’re singing, Gabriel’s doing the Pop’eye biceps move – a reminder of the video – before him and his band put their best feet forward and put the moves in.

‘Don’t Give Up’ is quite beautiful – Abrahamson taking on Kate Bush’s vocals and doing them more than justice as at the end of the song, Gabriel and Abrahamson embrace. The album rolls on and the band delivers – we’re entranced. ‘Mercy Street’ starts off stripped back before the haunting dark melodies, the triffids are on the move, Gabriel lying on the floor in his circle – the ‘triffids’ have surrounded him, and gaze down at him.

And then the set is garish and bright. The song is big, everything is big. It’s ‘Big time’. We’re singing. It’s bigger than big. ‘We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)’ is dark and menacing – very ‘1984’ atmospheric chant.’In Your Eyes’ an African rhythm, Abrahamson , joins with Arabesque vocals. “ … I am complete…. in your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches…. in your eyes, the resolution of all the fruitless searches…. in your eyes …I see the light and the heat…. in your eyes….”

‘So.’ maybe over – but what a treat – a standing ovation and total applause as Gabriel introduces the band. Band introduced, and he acknowledges the road crew – however, said crew have nicked another crew member’s wombat – and we chant ‘let the wombat go.’ Needless to say a huge applause to the crew – who tonight have done an amazing job. The band bow, and back by poplar demand, turn their backs to the audience and bow again.

And to encore – ‘The Tower that Ate People’ electronic, industrial despair, that even Reznor couldn’t compete with.  The ‘triffids’ march to the front of the stage and line up in a barrier, the band and Gabriel immersed in red smoke. And Gabriel is indeed eaten by a tower. Wow.

“For all the liberties won by young people. For the 43 young Mexican students who recently handed themselves across to be assassinated – this is for all the young people who stand up for the freedom we take for granted. For all those young people who are risking their lives….”

This can only be one song. ‘Biko’.
Stephen Biko was a black South African anti-apartheid activist, arrested in 1977, badly beaten and who later died of his injuries – fighting to stand up from freedom.

And we sing. Our fist in the air in Gabriel solidarity. The cameras focuses in on his face – even today, this track released in 1980, raises the hairs on your arms, and brings a tear to Gabriel’s eye. We chant along as one by one the band members leaving the stage – leaving the drummer beating away, encased by the ‘triffids’…..

Peter Gabriel’s “Back to Front’ is performance, art, beauty, power, fragility, darkness and the light. It is an entirety – from semi acoustic, to full on raging electronic enthralling visual and audio delight. Every element from sound through to rig, film on screen, and beautiful vocals is considered in detail. Pure treat, stunning and a pure delight.

Towers may not have eaten the punters tonight, but the monkey was well and truly shocked.

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Setlist:
What Lies Ahead
Come Talk to Me
Shock the Monkey
Family Snapshot
Digging in the Dirt
Secret World
The Family & the Fishing Net
No Self Control
Solsbury Hill
Why Don’t You Show Yourself

So (in it’s entirety)
Red Rain
Sledgehammer
Don’t Give Up
That Voice Again
Mercy Street
Big Time
We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)
This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)
In Your Eyes

Encore:
The Tower that Ate People
Biko

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Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies.

elbow + Jimi Goodwin @ LG Arena, Birmingham, UK – 5 April 2014

Second gig of the weekend and to music from England: we’re off to the LG Arena to a band with their own truly unique style. From kids that may be seldom seen – maybe they’ll be off building rockets – who knows? Just think of how you handle everything, take off and land – raise your beer glasses and chill-out to the beautiful and unique tones of elbow.

elbow_kenharrisonThe guys in elbow were together long before they formed elbow in ’97. Guy Garvey, Mark Potter, Craig Potter, Richard Jupp, Pete Turner have done things their own way – commercial success has followed them: all 6 of their studio albums have made the top 40, ‘Seldom Seen Kid’ winning the Mercury Music Prize. 2011’s ‘Build a Rocket Boys!’ made 2 in the album charts, in 2012 we couldn’t get away from them – ‘One Day Like This’ was the BBC theme for the  London 2012 Olympics and their newbie ‘The Take Off and Handling of Everything’ has made Number 1. New single ‘New York Morning’ is out now.

Influences permeate their music, early Genesis, and the stuff we all grew up with and were inspired by – the legendary (if undervalued in their heyday) Talk Talk and prog-rock alternates Radiohead. elbow’s music permeates our lives – I suggest there’s not a day goes by when a soundtrack to a TV program doesn’t contact an interlude of elbow.

To mark their return with a new album – why not do a release in the way that you love to? The pre-release of the album was available to hear across the UK in a brewery chain of pubs. Sit down. Listen and drink a pint of Marston’s Charge (named after a track on the new album) – a golden pale ale that elbow created – in Garvey’s words - “a perfect accompaniment to the album.”

This Birmingham gig is the first date of their 7 date UK tour, before a trip to the States and returning for Festival season – which includes T in the Park and V’and the recently announced Glastonbury.

Sooo – supports tonight comes from Doves member (Doves on hiatus, they haven’t split, they’re just doing their own things) and Garvey friend, Jimi Goodwin – who’s taking his own personal journey by going solo.  He’s just released his solo album ‘Odludek’ – a deeply personal effort. The title means loner or pilgrim in Polish and is where he’s at at the moment. Goodwin can’t wait: “I feel like I’ve been in hibernation, and now I’m emerging out in to the sunlight again, and it feels great.” As he takes to the stage – one or two of tonight’s punters shout “Com’on Jimi…” “How are we Birmingham?” – he explains he’s nervous and will be waffling. Goodwin’s new stuff is indie rising sounds, with a positive vibe that roll on and on. ‘Live Like A River’ pumps along full of indieness. The increasing crowd are enjoying his set. “Are you all well? Are you psyched up for elbow? It’s going to be magical…it’s gonna be beautiful…” as he leads us into ‘Whiskey’ an uplifting track, featuring acoustic guitars and harmonicas.  ‘The Panic Room’ was written with buddy Garvey – Goodwin’s set goes down well. Check his album out – well worth a listen.

So after an interlude we wait – The Cure and PJ Harvey (with her little fishes swimming in the river) plays out, and dry ice permeates the stage as the LG Arena fills to capacity.

Lights go down and here they come. Garvey waves to the audience – the set includes a ramp that goes into the middle of the crowd – dropping to floor level and then stepping up to a platform. Garvey is there waving to the crowd as the synth chug starts up with “I am electric. With a bottle in me….” beautifully delivered … “Hey!” - it’s new track “Charge.’ elbow are here tonight with a simple stage set; the band set up as if they were in a rehearsal studio, just like they’re just jamming, huddled closely with strings and brass musicians in support. And hey, they’ve kinda invited 15,000 friends along.

“Good evening Birmingham – looking beautiful… let’s see your hands everyone..” Garvey is engaging – just a ‘normal’ everyday bloke. We clap, clap, clap: from ‘Seldom Seen Kid’ – it’s the beautifully delivered ‘The Bones of You.’

“Some real talent on that side of the stage…” Garvey indicates to the ladies of the strings and brass section… “This is a new song about international air travel, my love of smoking, drinking and the back of women’s necks…..” as you do: ‘Fly Boy Blue.’

There are no superfluous additions to elbow – they’ve just playing, beautifully. Floating HD screens as a backdrop – video cameras showing the band as they play – and you are mesmerized by the men dressed in black. The arena roof has a line of circular lights – we wonder if they are usually there?  Inspired by being powerless to help someone after heartbreak, new track ‘Real Life (Angel)’ is once again beautifully delivered, floating round the stadia before Garvey is in the middle again – with the haunting and sublime and delectably beautiful ‘The Night Will Always Win’ – hairs prickle on 15,000 peoples’ arms.

“It was good wasn’t it?” as Garvey acknowledges the crowds reaction. He’s gossiping with the audience – like we’re a bunch of mates he’s chatting with in the pub. And to a tale about moisturizer (!)  There’s no airs or graces. elbow just are. As we’re taken on their journey into new single ‘New York Morning.’

“Cheers.” as we sway our arms from side to side; as atmosphere takes over the entire arena and a beautiful rising rendition of ‘The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver.’ Garvey is chatting again – he’d be a great comedian in his own right. elbow have been having children. Well a couple of them have, and even though it’s the first night of the tour – they’re already being missed – we’re invited to say hi to Ted Turner and Nancy Potter – the crowd shout out the names – Garvey suggests they should be turned into ringtones on their father’s phones….

So in the centre on the ramp, there’s a piano and Turner, Potter and Garvey are playing a song about a secret wedding – where even the bride didn’t know it had taken place ‘Great Expectations’; followed by ‘The Blanket of Night’ – another beautiful track.

“Everyone okay? I feel like we’re on a first date Birmingham?” Garvey enquires as to whether there is indeed, anyone here on a first date…”Ey – good one. Take her to an elbow gig – they’re soft bastards…”

And as the guitar gently chimes in unison with keyboards – a huge mirrorball drops from the top of the main set, to accompany the track of the same name – Garvey encourages us all to raise our arms and wiggle our fingers at the bouncing light. Arms are swaying from side to side. “Look at you, you beautiful creatures.” “Yeah I know”, he encourages us to respond. “And who said not so bad yourself?”

And  now – as we clap – elbow finally rock out, elbow style – with the immense ‘The Birds’;  the guitar crunch heavier live than on the album – it powers round the stadia – all 8 minutes plus of it. Awesome. And then another, jangly guitar, and then quietly  “Mondays is for drinking to the seldom seen kid…” before we get the power grind and “I’ve been working on a cocktail called “Grounds For Divorce”, whoa…” as we “whoa” - we’re rocking and dancing – Garvey takes to drums to power the track out. Our jaws are on the floor.

“Last song….” Huge boo from the crowd. “Very last song… the very last….” as Garvey starts to quip: “….we’re thinking of f***in’ off the tour… this is the last song we’re ever gonna  play…” (Consults with band). “Nah… it’s definitely our last song…” He considers us all old friends – encouraging those first-daters to have a snog. “Bloody ‘ell it works!” as we wave our arms from side to side once again – and back to beautiful and sublime elbow with ‘My Sad Captains.’

And so to the break for encore (we hope) – crowd are going crazy – desperate for the band to return – the cameras are turned on the audience – people make daft faces and are broadcast for all to see.

Well of curse they didn’t mean it – they’re back  – our arms are once swaying from side to side “…like long grass in a Hawaiian breeze…” as we’re presented with the beautiful ‘Starlings.’

“Birmingham – is this love?” Big cheer. “Thanks everyone – talk about backing a house that’s good for glue – did anyone else win?” – in reference to the Grand National. Elbow’s manager did – but everyone refused to pay him!  Next track and acknowledgement to support Jimi Goodwin – and a dedication to him – cos the next track is kinda about him ‘Lippy Kids.’ Garvey whistles and 15,000 people whistle back. “…build a rocket boys….” in unison we sing. Really quite beautiful.

“Cheers Birmingham – what an extraordinary evening…” (all 15,000 of us are in agreement0. “You are absolutely f***ing lovely Birmingham – you joyous bunch….” “One last order of business…..Glasgow are pretty good at this…” (to which we all boo – after encouragement to get competitive.) “We are elbow from Manchester – goodnight…”

Music affects us in so many ways. And the music we love takes us to a point where we remember, where we feel, smell, touch a memory.And as the violins start up – the hair on our skins reacts – and stands on edge, emotional ties are made – civic pride appears from nowhere – us usually cynical bunch are as one…. “One Day Like This…” and we sing and we smile – it’s delivered with immaculate power. And those lights that live the arena – suddenly drop in unison – they’re inflatable lighted balls – they bounce round the crowd. And we end this song we’re singing louder and louder… “Throw those curtains wide One day like this a year would see me right ……Throw those curtains wide One day like this a year would see me right…..” and even when it ends and the band sign off and we’re cheering – Garvey encourages us to sing the chorus again as they leave stage. And all 15,000 of us do.

I see lots of bands. I see good bands. I see great bands. And very rarely, you see something beyond, even better – head and shoulder above great. These self effacing bunch of guys you would merrily hang out and take a beer with in your local pub, tonight,  were up there with the legends. Beautiful and sublime – funny – yet all encompassing.  One of those gigs you will remember for years. I’m going leave you singing…over and over agin.. with a big broad grin on your face, and that pride of being part of something bigger:

“Throw those curtains wide

One day like this a year would see me right……

Throw those curtains wide

One day like this a year would see me right….”

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Setlist:
Intro: Slow Moving Water
Charge
The Bones of You
Fly Boy Blue
Real Life (Angel)
The Night Will Always Win
New York Morning
The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
Great Expectations
The Blanket of Night
Mirrorball
The Birds
Grounds for Divorce
My Sad Captains

Encore:
Starlings
Lippy Kids
One Day Like This

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Listening:
The Seldom Seen Kid [2010]
Build a Rocket Boys! [2011]
Take Off and Landing of Everything [2014]

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

Depeche Mode @ LG Arena, Birmingham, UK, 27th January 2014

So on a slightly wet January eve we head to the LG Arena and make it with just one minute to spare. Mega-giants of the dark side of electronica are here tonight, and 15,000 loyal devotees are here because they know they are guaranteed one hell of a gig. Andy Fletcher, Martin L. Gore and Dave Gahan, aka Depeche Mode, are here to give us a black celebration…

Formed way back in 1980, first single ‘Dreaming of Me’ did little, Second single ‘New Life’ a poptastic track got them on Top of The Pops and started them on one hell of a journey. ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ which they deliver tonight in all it’s glory (although a tad harder, Gahan vocals deeper) made the top ten. Their first album ‘Speak and Spell’ was greeted with mixed reviews – Rolling Stone calling it ‘PG-rated fluff.’ Original member Vince Clarke called it a day – a tottered off to create Yazoo, The Assembly and Erasure. But the rest of the lads weren’t gonna give up . An advert in Melody Maker brought them Alan Wilder, who remained a member ‘til 1995. Success grew and grew megastardom called and they embraced it, in more ways than one…

So to confirm – DM have had over 50 songs in the UK charts, thirteen top ten albums, sold over 100 million albums worldwide. 2013 brought new album ‘Delta Machine’ plus a worldwide tour which at the end of 2013, just halfway through, they had played to nigh on 1.4m people – grossing nearly $100m – 9th on the list of top 2013 worldwide tours.

And so tonight – we’re welcomed to their world indeed – as they lead us in with the first track from 2013‘s ‘Delta Machine’, followed by ‘Angel’. We’re already hooked and that’s before we get the deep darkened dance track that is ‘Walking in My Shoes’. ‘Precious’ on their slightly lighter side from ‘Playing the Angel’ leads us to the darkest place to celebrate ‘Black Celebration’. There’s other classics here too – ‘Policy of Truth.’

The set is simple – high definition screens showing the band live or their trademark arthouse videos. ‘Precious’ we get dogs of all breeds. Who know’s why – this is Depeche – and we don’t ask – nor do we care. Gahan is spinning and turning, dancing with his snake hips – his vocals are well on form, performed with a huge grin on his face, the waistcoat opened to a scream from the audience. And to a Martin L. Gore interlude as he takes the lead – giving us haunting renditions of ‘Slow’ and ‘But Not Tonight’ before Gahan and the boys are back. The first single of ‘Delta Machine – okay we’re all there too – ‘Heaven’ before Gahan takes charge ‘Behind the Wheel.’ 15,000 people are dancing and cheering. That unique Depeche indie electronic howl blazes out as we get ‘A Pain That I’m Used To’ And to a question we’re asking, cos it’s just flying by tonight: ‘ Question of Time.’ Gahan is stripped to the waist; still dancing, spinning, engaging, grinning. Then ‘Enjoy the Silence’ before a hardcore version of the clippity-clop classic that is ‘Personal Jesus.’

We’re enthralled and as they take a break, we cheer and wait. Gore is back. This time for his truly haunting and beautiful rendition of ‘Shake the Disease’ – a song with a haunting howl that as it concludes the crowd repeat back. The band cease playing, Gahan is back and he’s conducting us and we continue with the repetitive howl. We’re grinning, the band are grinning; Gahan is like a Cheshire cat. If he told us to jump off a cliff, like lemmings we would. Next up ‘Halo’, then that dance classic ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ followed by the rock grind that is ‘I Feel You’, a track that we feel too. We’re still dancing. And then to the finale – ‘Never Let Me Down Again ‘ and for this wave your arms from side to side and never stop.  And if our arms start to ache – don’t watch Gahan – he’s still giving it one million percent.

And then it’s over. Just over two hours gone in a flash.

I first saw DM in ’84. At the Birmingham Odeon. Tickets were just £4.50 (before the days were booking fees and any other additional charges were even invented). Who would have dreamt that 30 years on they would still be doing this and still delivering and then some. While tickets tonight are 10 times as much as they were thirty years ago, there’s lesser bands who charge a hell of a lot more to see them.  And ok, as you can gather, I’m one of the devoted, I’ve seen them more times than I can mention. What makes DM different is that they’ve stuck to their guns, at times not deemed cool, but they are truly uniquely. They take their own path. And always have done. They’ve inspired a generation of bands from so many genres (they were the first band to issue a house track), a have a huge back catalogue of classic unique tracks. Every time they play – they know what the fans want – they deliver the new and the classics too. They may not have the presence in the UK;  to the rest of the world they’ll be playing stadia – but they choose not to ignore their home fans and we love them for that. Some may think they’re retro, but new track ‘Goodbye’ was used in the trail for the last ‘Luther’ series. You’ve heard their recent stuff – it’s used on TV all the time. Tonight was DM on form and when you know they are having a blast on stage, you do too. Gahan pure ability to give, vocally at the best he’s ever been (check him out on last year’s Soulsavers album ‘The Light The Dead See’) and he delivers with more energy than most guys half his age – with passion and a broad grin. Live DM give one million percent.

They’ll be back, probably in 3 to 4 years, cos in thirty odd years, whatever the roller-coaster journey they’ve had – they’ve never let us down…

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Setlist:
Welcome to My World
Angel
Walking in My Shoes
Precious
Black Celebration
Should be Higher
Policy of Truth
Slow
But Not Tonight
Heaven
Behind the Wheel
Pain That I’m Used To
Question of Time
Enjoy the Silence
Personal Jesus

Encore:
Shake the Disease
Halo
Just Can’t Get Enough
I Feel You
Never Let Me Down

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Gig Review for Gig Junkies;  Photography by Katja Orgin

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

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.

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.

“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.

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.

“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 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……..

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Setlist: 

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

Encore:

16. Hush

17. Black Night