at The First Direct Arena, Leeds, U.K., October 23, 2022

DEEP PURPLE (Live at The First Direct Arena, Leeds, U.K., October 23, 2022)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Now this is what you call a tasty bill. Two of Hard Rocks legendary names on stage together with over a century’s worth of music between them, this was a veritable feast.

For those lucky enough to have caught Blue Öyster Cult on one of their own headlining shows earlier in the week, tonight was an opportunity to catch them again. As a band who are no strangers to switching their set lists from night to night, those who had seen them on those earlier shows were treated to some songs not previously performed including opener “Stairway To The Stars”, the epic “Then Came The Last Days Of May” and the sizzling “Hot Rails To Hell” performed in spirited fashion by Richie Castellano.

Occupying the “Special Guest” slot meant a shorter set for the New York veterans but for an hour they thrilled the large and appreciative audience with the Biker Rock anthem “Golden Age Of Leather” replete with the toast raising acapella intro and the riff heavy “Extra Terrestrial Intelligence”

With original members Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma sharing the bulk of the lead vocals it was a night of quality music delivered in their own unique fashion with heavy weight riffs, beautiful melodic guitar work and mesmerising, dark harmonies.

New songs “That Was Me” and “Box In My Head” were well received but it was the cacophonic riff of “Godzilla” and the wistful melody of their iconic hit, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” that brought the Arena to their collective feet.

With the bar set unfeasibly high, Deep Purple had to pull out all the stops and an opening salvo of “Highway Star” swiftly followed by “Pictures Of Home” both from the classic Machine Head album were the perfect start.

Coming bang up to date with “No Need To Shout” and “Nothing At All” from their most recent album of original material, Whoosh this was the first opportunity for UK fans to hear the new songs in a live setting and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Ian Gillan’s voice may not hit the stratospheric notes of his younger years but he certainly knows how to use his well-seasoned voice to maximum effect and on the beautiful “When A Blind Man Cries” it hit the sweet spot. Absolutely outstanding.

New guitarist Simon McBride had huge shoes to fill, whether those left by Ritchie Blackmore or more recently during Steve Morse’s 28-year stint in the band. McBride rose to the occasion and delivered big time looking a natural fit with a bright future ahead.

Sunderland supporting Don Airey delivered a masterclass in keyboard wizardry and dropped in a crowd cheering snippet of “On Ilkla Moor Baht ’at” into his dazzling solo while bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice, both from the fabled Mark II version of the band alongside Gillan, nailed the rhythm section to the floor.

A welcome inclusion of “Anya” from their overlooked Battle Rages On release was a pleasant surprise but the closing trio of the epic “Perfect Strangers”, the vibrant “Space Truckin’” and the riff to end all riffs of “Smoke On The Water” was prime time Deep Purple.

With enough fuel in the tank to deliver solid gold classics, “Hush” and “Black Night” for encores, it brought an end to a triumphant evening of top-class Hard Rock by two bands who helped to create the template over 50 years ago and still going strong today.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • 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.

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