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Deep Purple / Europe / Cats In Space Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 09, 2017    
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Deep Purple / Europe / Cats In Space - O2 Dome, London (UK) - 23 November 2017

Cats In Space are a dramatic opener with singer Paul Manzi in an eighteenth century style black and gold great coat. They are charismatic and entertaining and way better than the last time I saw them live, when I understand singer Manzi was ill. Lots of keyboards and seventies style numbers with a driving beat with a nod to eighties AOR. Their set is very short, but professional and classy and they were certainly an acceptable amuse bouche.

Europe open with title track 'Walk The Earth' and 'The Siege' from the new album. It's typical of their usual confidence to lead with new material and it comes across well. However, the crowd are more familiar with classic tracks (as expected) and things get cooking with classics 'Rock The Night', 'Superstitious' (that features some beautiful lead guitar playing) and 'Carrie' with its superb keyboard intro. It is good to see how relatively recent material has become a set fixture so quickly and 'War Of Kings' (from the last album) mid-set is epic with soaring melodic guitar work. Joey Tempest still looks amazing for his age and always takes command of the stage, with the others content to take more of a back seat and concentrate on the music.

Europe O2 Dome Live

The presentation is undoubtedly on a grand scale both musically and visually. Slicker than a slick thing, they deliver flawlessly with great sound. Tempest with grand twirls of the microphone, fists clenched, eyes set on the horizon with war cry expressions continues their strong form visually and is magnetic in the attention he receives from photographers and audience alike. He sounds great when he sings and even though when he speaks he appears to have a slightly husky voice, it does not affect his performance. He plays tribute to Deep Purple, explaining how 'Made In Japan' changed the band's lives in Stockholm and how in his opinion Purple are still leading the way. 'The Final Countdown' is, of course, the encore and is such a major song it might be in danger of upstaging any that follow it. With huge keyboards, plenty of widdly widdly guitar and dry ice, they end on a high with stunning white smiles, encouraging the crowd to enjoy the rest of the show.

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Deep Purple are a little understated by comparison. However, while taking it like a walk in the park, Ian Gillan is still an impressive front-man. While reading so many lyrics from the floor may appear complacent unless he has memory problems (which could be possible due to the well-publicised brain injury he received in an incident when Ritchie Blackmore was in the band), he perhaps should explain if this is the case as it did look a little casual for such a huge band. He injects some idiosyncratic humour between songs with jokes about a little gardening in Babylon and Central Park which, had we been in the seventies, might have been suspected to be artificially induced (and fit well with a moving technicolour kaleidoscope screen behind),

Deep Puple O2 Dome Live 1

however he appears sober as a judge. Although quite serious throughout the set, he does occasionally let loose and reveal the burning sensuality he possesses underneath. It was also interesting that he injects a line from 'Jesus Christ Superstar' ("I don't want to taste your poison") in which he once starred. While he no longer attempts the screams of songs like 'Child In Time' which is one of many classics missing from the set, he still has a distinctive tone and performs the songs they choose to include well. Doing four songs from new album 'Infinite' in the first half is a bold decision and Gillan thanks the crowd for being patient. However, if he can perform these songs in a lower register, the crowd appears to accept this is better than a string of murdered more familiar songs and remain firmly with the program, and Gillan comments on the great vibes coming from the audience. The crowd are rewarded with great versions of 'Space Truckin'' and 'Smoke On The Water' (accompanied by John Norum of Europe on guitar) and Gillan does pull these off incredibly well, making one wonder if they could have included more classics in the set with their dignity intact. With a striking flame backdrop 'Smoke On The Water' is unsurprisingly the highlight of the show and some may say worth the ticket price alone.

Deep Puple O2 Dome Live 2

They don't forget Jon Lord and a tribute to him comes early in the set. Don Airey makes a huge and impassioned attempt to fill the gap with two extended keyboard sections in the set, but there is no doubt that Lord is still greatly missed and his unique style is irreplaceable. I personally could have done without 'Jerusalem' and 'Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner' in Airey's keyboard solo, although maybe that's just me. Other newer member Steve Morse also has the unenviable task of following Blackmore, and while he delivers some interesting experimental guitar work and the riffs in 'Smoke On The Water' are still epic, there is no doubt Blackmore is a ghost that haunts proceedings.

Deep Puple O2 Dome Live 3

Despite recovery from illness, Ian Paice is obviously back to top form and is still an incredible drummer, looking wonderful for his age. Roger Glover and Paice are still capable of being a heavy duty back-end driving machine and on tracks like 'Smoke On The Water' this is still wonderfully impressive. Glover, smiling and happy, is also full of entertaining poses and makes a sterling effort both visually and musically, his bass solo coming surprisingly in the encore after 'Hush' which again is a spark of original brilliance.

With final song of the night being 'Black Night', Gillan again does us proud and we get some organ approaching what Lord used to deliver during it. Tonight, Deep Purple just about perform enough classics to keep the crowd happy, although talk on the tube afterwards makes it clear there was an appetite for more.

Review and photos by Dawn Osborne

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