at Oslo Spektrum, Norway, January 29, 2006

DEEP PURPLE (Live at Oslo Spektrum, Norway, January 29, 2006)
Photo: Per Olav Heimstad

Deep Purple might not be considered one of Rock’s most skillful bands any longer, or a bunch of the finest Hard Rock tune composers around today. Still, though, Deep Purple has to be best described as one of the most impressive bands in music.

Deep Purple started out in the late 60s and are still recording and touring. They’ve been through some tough times and quite a few lineup changes … everybody knows that already. Together with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they invented and defined Hard Rock in the 70s, and released a string of classic masterpieces back then.

Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, & Company could have given it up a long time ago, and rested well on their laurels — but no! They’ve risked it all again and again by releasing one mediocre album after another, and touring year after year while the band’s once so critically acclaimed musical skills steadily have declined. And you know what? Shame on you if you don’t totally respect them for it!

There is no reason why they should stop honing their craft. Why should they stop writing and recording new music? A lot of the old and classic Rock bands who have made a comeback over recent times hardly play songs less than 20-25 years old.

When Deep Purple toured to support their previous album, Bananas (2003), their live sets included five or six songs from that record. On this tour, they are just as determined as they treat their live audiences with a half dozen tracks from their latest studio effort, Rapture Of The Deep. Respect.

Rapture Of The Deep is far from as good as Bananas, but for those in their audience who have given it a spin or four, you should know that quite a few of the new tracks hold a pretty good entertainment value live. Every fan who had prepared themselves right for Purple’s show in Oslo in January knows that.

Deep Purple started the gig with “Pictures Of Home” (from Machine Head) before two new songs were played: “Things I Never Said” (Japanese bonus track) and “Wrong Man.” During these songs, Gillan had to swap his mic three times (… not his own fault), and look at the lyric sheet on the drum stand six times (… his own fault). Both of these songs didn’t make a huge impression on anybody, but the mere sight of the band did. Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, and Steve Morse were smiling big time, and conveyed a good mood atmosphere. What the band no longer possesses in the extraordinary musical skills department, they now, to a large extent, make up for in charm. Good old Ian Paice had a rather strained look on his face behind the drums, but he still does what it takes to kick the Purple songs forward.

The band has several reasons to look happy. One of them was that the front row of the audience was packed with teenagers! … and that was not thanks to some MTV show. Think of it; it’s 2006 and Deep Purple is playing for kids who are excessively happy about getting to hear their favorite tracks from Machine Head, In Rock … and maybe Purpendicular live for the first time. If that doesn’t make a close to forty year-old band happy …

The band was flanked by two big screens showing details from the stage. Keyboard player Don Airey benefited the most from this, as he, with the bare eye, was hard to spot behind his large keyboard stand. Being able to see his fingers as well as just hearing them play added a catching dimension to his work. He is a hardworking guy, no doubt. On “Living Wreck” and “Lazy,” for instance, he did a great job.

Before the set had reached the halfway point, two more new songs were played: their last album’s title track and “Before Time Began.” Despite being a notch too long, “Rapture Of The Deep” revealed true live potential. Well done. “Before Time Began” was even longer, but filled its length much better. Not the most exciting track around, but a nice and alternative piece of music that added variation to the set.

Since the mellow “Child In Time” is by now a long gone memory from Deep Purple’s live repertoire, one might wonder why they don’t add some of their other/newer slow songs to their shows. Deep Purple has never been a ballad band, but some of their laid back moments on their “post classic albums” have been some of their best. Keep (even though it’s a good song) “Love Conquers All” from Slaves And Masters (1990) out of this, but in 1996, Purpendiculiar offered both “Loosen My Strings” and “The Aviator.” “Anya” was chosen as a single from The Battle Rages On album, and Bananas included the beautiful “Haunted.” Especially the latter song should have lasted longer on their Bananas Tour, and should have been included on this tour. And, if not that, why not play “Clearly Quite Absurd” — The Rapture Of The Deep‘s most subdued but best moment?

Yes, Deep Purple should have explored their softer sides more. They should also have been more gentle to “Mary Long.” It was cool to notice that this old classic once again was included in their set, but the performance of it was not good. They treated the lady way too rough, and made her lose all of her elegance. The feel “Mary Long” once had in 1973 (Who Do We Thing We Are?) was now exchanged with flat and hard rocking and rolling. A shame.

“Lazy,” on the other hand, was very well taken care of on this night. Here, good old Gillan took some chances on the good old high notes, and succeeded surprisingly well. A great, full version with a clever solo from Don Airey. After that, Airey succeeded in making a keyboard solo interesting, just like his precursor, the great Jon Lord. Just like Lord, while in Norway, Airey couldn’t resist to include some Edward Grieg spots in his solo works –- Grieg, pianist and composer, being Norway’s most internationally known musician, despite the fact that he’s been dead for 99 years.

The next song out was “Perfect Strangers,” which sounded great. The only trouble with the song was that Ian Gillan, during Airey’s solo, had changed clothes, and reappeared in one of the ugliest vests you could ever imagine. Then “Junkyard Blues” and “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” the last representatives from Rapture Of The Deep, made a decent impact. The latter was introduced by Gillan as “a philosophical Rock song.” However, the audience didn’t get long to get very deep into any thoughtful matter as the rest of the gig was a parade of super hits!

What can you say? “Space Truckin’,” “Highway Star,” “Smoke On The Water,” and the encores “Speed King” and “Black Night” all in a row. Some disturbing solo spots and a stupid vocal medley luckily saved the diehard fan core of the audience from losing their minds from pure satisfaction. “Space Truckin’,” “Highway Star,” “Smoke On The Water,” “Speed King,” and “Black Night” all in a row — performed live by Deep Purple in 2006 … impressive!


Pictures Of Home
Things I Never Said
Wrong Man
Ted The Mechanic
Living Wreck
Rapture Of The Deep
Before Time Began
Mary Long
Contact Lost/Morse solo
Lazy/Airey solo
Perfect Strangers
Junkyard Blues
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
Space Truckin’
Highway Star
Smoke On The Water

Speed King
Black Night


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