Often hailed as the forefathers of heavy metal, Deep Purple turned in a performance Sunday night at Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie that more than lived up to their legendary status. The band’s mixture of classic hits, prog rock, blues, deep cuts and newer tunes flowed together seamlessly with an abundance of electricity that had the audience buzzing throughout the show.
Formed in England in 1968, Deep Purple’s lineup has changed numerous times over the years. Drummer Ian Paice is the only original member of the band though singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover have been part of the troupe on and off for decades. Steve Morse has been Deep Purple’s axeman for just over two decades while Don Airey on keys is the baby of the band with just a decade’s worth of service. Together, the current lineup is an energetic bunch still capable of raising the roof off any venue.
Deep Purple wasted no time amazing the crowd, opening with a powerful four-song set that included “Highway Star,” “Apres Vous,” “Hard Lovin’ Man” and “Strange Kind of Woman.” Each song flowed dynamically into one another making for a non-stop sequence of straight on rock ‘n’ roll.
Instantly impressive was guitarist Steve Morse. Wearing a muscle shirt with the face of a wolf emblazoned across the front, Morse made his guitar howl throughout the evening. Morse’s biceps, bulging with every note played, served as a testament to the sheer power of his maniacal shredding abilities.
Vocalist Ian Gillan had a very laid back and suave presence on stage. The veteran had no need for David Coverdale’s long locks or Mick Jagger’s flexible hips. Gillan’s everyday bloke demeanor fit the blue-collar hard rock aura of the band perfectly. Gillan symbolized what was so great about this show–nothing was forced or contrived. The band let the music alone be the focus and had a great time doing so, often dueling one another with tantalizing instrument solos. Even Gillan got in on the act mimicking Morse’s guitar with his vocals and later egging the crowd on to play air organ during Airey’s impressive solos.
In case you haven’t noticed by now, there were plenty of solos during Deep Purple’s set. But unlike other shows by other bands, all the solos–whether in-song duals or stand alone instrumentals–worked perfectly. Nothing seemed disjointed with the rest of the show or came across as: “Yep, bet he refused to go on tour unless he got to play a big old solo.” Every performer and every performance came together as a well-oiled machine particularly Paice’s and Glover’s dynamic solo intros to “Black Night.”
Having more than dazzled the crowd with their amazing talents, Deep Purple closed out the main set with a fiery four-song hit parade that included “Perfect Strangers,” “Space Truckin'” and the legendary “Smoke on the Water.” The latter song created a major dilemma for fans: either capture the iconic moment with their smartphone or tuck it away and play air guitar. Tough choice.
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