At The Telewest Arena, Newcastle, U.K., April 21, 2007

Deep Purple 2007

What can you get for 30 quid these days? A ticket for a football match? Unlikely. A decent meal for two? Probably not. How about a ticket for three legendary Hard Rock bands together on one bill? You got it!!

For just over £30 ($60 USA) you could settle down for a great evening of music featuring Deep Purple, Styx, and Thin Lizzy. The chances are you would pay £30 to see just one of these bands, but to see all three together is just exceptional value and is a credit to the promoter who put this tour on the road.

Thin Lizzy had the task of opening the show, a feat, which on a normal night, would have been no problem to a band of their pedigree. Unfortunately for Lizzy, as they burst into “Jailbreak,” all was not well. Scott Gorham looked non-plussed as his guitar failed to kick out the classic riff. His guitar problems continued throughout “Waiting For An Alibi” and “Don’t Believe A Word,” until finally the guitar tech managed to get Gorham’s guitar to burst into life.

Lizzy proceeded to rattle through a lively “Are You Ready” and a thunderous “Cold Sweat” before problems befell John Sykes, as his guitar cut out during “Emerald,” which blunted the impact somewhat of Lizzy’s legendary two-part guitar harmony. Sykes was not a happy man. By the time the set closed with “Suicide,” “Cowboy Song,” and the evergreen “The Boys Are Back In Town,” Lizzy had shown true professionalism in the face of adversity as they soldiered on despite the problems they were having.

There are those who are somewhat cynical of a Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott, and they may have a point. However, Scott Gorham and John Sykes both played with Lynott and it’s always a joy to hear the twin guitar assault of Thin Lizzy. Sykes himself does a pretty decent take on Lynott’s lilting delivery. With a line-up completed by former Whitesnake rhythm section of Marco Mendoza and Tommy Aldridge, they certainly have the pedigree to keep the Lizzy legend alive. Tonight, unfortunately, was just “one of those nights” and there’s no doubting that when they return in the Autumn to the City Hall with Queensrÿche, it will be a case of service resumed as usual.

The unknown quantity for many on this bill was Styx. Frequent comments such as “Aren’t they that band that did ‘Babe’?,” or “Aren’t they that American band that does ballads all of the time?” could be heard around the hall. Styx clearly had a lot of work to do to win over the crowd.

Hitting the stage with the rousing working class anthem “Blue Collar Man” with its stomp along chorus certainly took many by surprise. That coupled with Styx having the benefit of a larger stage and a bigger lighting rig than Thin Lizzy, added to the impact of their grand entrance.

The Pomp majesty of “The Grand Illusion” allowed Styx to explore their more Progressive side before “Too Much Time On My Hands” highlighted their tight harmony vocals to full effect.

In Tommy Shaw, Styx have a fine singer and lively frontman with James “JY” Young, adding the punch to the sound while permanently grinning throughout the whole show. Lawrence Gowan, who faced the unenviable task of replacing founder member Dennis DeYoung, and if the truth be told, he does a damn fine job of it too. Not only does he have an excellent voice, but the man is as mad as a hatter. Whether he’s spinning his revolving keyboard round while playing it behind his back, or amazingly, doing handstands on the keyboard, this guy is pure entertainment and does a great job whipping the crowd into frenzy.

Possibly the most touching moment of the night was when original bass player Chuck Panozzo, who’s long running health problems have been well documented, made a very welcome appearance during “Angry Young Man (Fooling Yourself),” while new bassman Ricky Phillips of Bad English fame took up the rhythm guitar.

JY’s center piece, “Miss America,” showed those who dismiss Styx as a ballad band that they couldn’t be more wrong. With a raucous riff and punchy chorus, combined with Young’s OTT delivery, this was one of the many highlights of the show. To capture the moment for posterity, Gowan flew across the stage, taking photos with a Polaroid before throwing them into an increasingly appreciative audience.

As the set came to a close with the South Park approved “Come Sail Away,” replete with stunning five part harmonies, and a barnstorming “Renegade” where drummer Todd Sucherman let fly, Styx made many, many new friends, and those doubters were quickly won over by a well-paced, superbly delivered and highly entertaining hour of music.

After such a performance, Deep Purple certainly had their work cut out to top Styx. After a short Eastern-influenced intro tape, Purple launched straight into the pile-driving riff off “Fireball,” the perfect riposte to the gauntlet thrown down by Styx.

The pace momentarily dropped with the unexpected outtake from Rapture of the Deep “Things I Never Said,” which seemed to wrong foot a significant portion of the audience, however all was firmly back on track with a gritty “Into The Fire,” with Ian Gillan in particularly fine form before some excellent guitar/vocal interplay between Gillan and Steve Morse during “Strange Kind Of Woman.”

Following the title track of their latest opus, Steve Morse stepped up to deliver a stunning display of guitar wizardry during “Well Dressed Guitar,” and showed why one of the leading guitar magazines banned him from their annual poll after he swept the board for five consecutive years.

This tour was billed as the Machine Head: 35th Anniversary Tour, with the promise that the classic Machine Head album would be played in its entirety. As the two giant video screens, which flanked the stage, started counting back from 2007 to 1972, the Machine Head moment had arrived. And, fans got it with both barrels blazing. Every last delicious second of it from the driving power of “Highway Star” to the old chestnut of “Smoke On The Water;” from the extended “Lazy” to a stellar “Space Truckin’.” It’s always great to hear such classic songs, yet the highlights were probably Machine Head’s lesser celebrated moments, such as “Pictures Of Home,” “Maybe I’m Leo,” and arguably their finest Pop moment, the irresistible “Never Before.” Just to round things off nicely, “When A Blind Man Cries” was added to the mix, inexplicably omitted from the original album, it was included in its rightful place alongside the rest of Machine Head. Gillan, who has received some criticism in the past, was superb throughout the evening, but really excelled on “When A Blind Man Cries.”

Closing the set with “Hush” and “Black Night,” Deep Purple ended the night on a real high after delivering a compelling lesson in Hard Rock history.

Three great bands and over four hours of music provided a real treat for Rock fans. It’s rare in this day and age to receive such value for money, but it’s good to say those who saw this show went home knowing that it was worth every single penny.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.