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London O2 - 3/12/15 (Short Review)


The O2 is really big. I mean, really, stupidly big. I've seen it on telly, but that doesn't prepare you for how it actually looks. Biggest venue I've ever been in. I knew I hadn't got a great seat, high up and off to the side. What I didn't know was that the O2 is so big I would be six miles from the stage and 8,000 feet above the floor of the arena on a near-vertical bank of vertiginous seats. Good grief.

Despite the size, it looked respectably full. Part of the back was curtained off, and the very top tiers were sparsely populated, but the ground and all the lower tiers I could see looked sold out. And a big chunk of the audience were in place for the support band, Rival Sons, who seemed to be pretty popular. It's the first time I've heard them, and really are pretty good, great musicians playing blues rock with a very strong Led Zeppelin influence. Went down well with the crowd and did exactly what you want a support band to do.

Despite enjoying Rival Sons, by the time Deep Purple came on I was feeling a bit disgruntled. First because I was so far from the stage, the band looked like dots. Second, because the drum kit was completely hidden from me by a big video screen.

If you need a big video screen to show the performers, your venue is too big. If the screen blocks part of the band from the view of a fair chunk of the audience, that's just incompetent planning, not to mention thoughless and poor customer service.

And thirdly, and I never thought I would be saying this about a rock gig these days, it was TOO QUIET! I should feel Deep Purple's bass vibrating through my chest and be deaf for days afterwards. This is just all wrong.

So, ok, the band comes on (intro music is Mars, as on the last tour) and tear into the the first song and I'm just sitting (yes, sitting, I daren't stand, I'm too high, fourth black mark against the venue) and brooding on all these annoyances.

Then, about one verse in, or possibly somewhere around the first organ solo, my brain suddenly went OH MY GOD IT'S DEEP PURPLE PLAYING HIGHWAY STAR! And I didn't care how awful my seat was because that's the best thing EVER.

And they went through the first four songs without a pause, Highway Star, Bloodsucker, Hard Lovin' Man (and maybe Gillan shouldn't have attempted it, he doesn't sound powerful at all, but it's instrumentally perfect, Don's organ solo is ferocious and the rhythm section is relentless (but it's all too quiet...)) and Strange Kind of Woman. It's at the end of SKOW that the band starts to loosen up. Ian and Steve start the traditional call-and-response section, but instead of singing one line for Steve to mimic Ian goes into a long nonsense monologue and looks like he won't stop, while Steve just looks as if he's considering calling the men in white coats. When Ian pauses for breath, Steve gamely plays the whole monologue back on guitar. "Word perfect," say Ian.

There's finally a pause for applause, and Ian starts actually introducing the songs by way of a long story in several installments involving a blood-smeared pool table, a mule chalking a pool cue, a plane made of balsa wood and sticky tape and, oh I forget, it was all completely potty.

So after the run of 'oldies', some newer songs. Vincent Price gets a big cheer from the crowd and gets everybody around me dancing in their seats (who says people only go to the gigs for the old hits?). A short instrumental jam resolves itself into Uncommon Man. Hell To Pay is played fairly straight, it's a good song but I'm sure they could substitute something better. The Well Dressed Guitar is something that should never be substituted out, it just stuns me every time I hear it. Somewhere in there Steve gets a solo, showing off sounds you shouldn't be able to make with a guitar, but it's not just an excuse to show off his technique, it also sounds beautiful.

A guest violinist joins them on stage -- Ian gave his name but I didn't catch it -- and plays a short, improvised duet with Don, which is interesting. It slowly becomes evident that Don is improvising themes on Lazy, and sure enough the band joins in for Lazy. The violinist seems a bit superflouous here, Don and Steve go wild and there isn't really any room left for the violin.

We get one verse of The Mule before it turns into a drum solo, and as usual from Ian Paice, it's the best drum solo I've ever heard and, also as usual, it's not long enough.

Don gets a solo, beginning on mini Moog (and sounding perilously close to a Rainbow song) before switching to piano for a long ramble through multiple classical, jazz, and popular styles, then back to some avant-garde electronic doodling before turning back to the Hammond to play the majestic opening chords of Deep Purple's best ever song. His solo has a familiar pattern, even though it's always different, but even though you know he's going to crank out the Perfect Strangers opening at the end, it's still an intensely dramatic moment.

We know from experience that we'renearing the end now, and as expected Space Truckin' comes next (and Ian doesn't sound great on it again; he's been variable throughout the night, and I wish they would adjust the set to accomodate what his voice can do now). The guitar player from Rival Sons joins them for the last song, playing a short jam with Steve then doubling up on the riff to Smoke on the Water (it's a good job he knew it!). Steve lets him take the first half of the solo too, and he plays something that fits perfectly without just copying the "proper" solo. Yes, I'm very impressed with him.

And I know I say I wish they wouls drop some of the classics to make way for newer songs, but there is no more perfect part of a Deep Purple concert than singing Smoke with Ian telling me he can't hear.

The way I want to die is at a Deep Purple concert, singing Smoke on the Water with Ian Gillan telling me he can't hear me.

When I'm 108.

Encores: a very short Green Onions, then into Hush. Steve and Don finally get a serious guitar-and-organ call-and-response going, Don leading. Steve actually breaks a string, and keeps playing, still managing to echo back every run Don plays no matter how fast or complex. Astonishing.

Roger finally gets a bass solo. He's been out of the spotlight all night, just quietly getting on with being the most important member of the band, but now he gets a few minutes to show how you can play bass guitar melodically, like a lead instrument.

And the bass solo winds its way into the Black Night riff, played fairly short and straight, and that's it.

Five minutes short of two hours. Roger stays on stage long after the house lights come up, sailing guitar picks out into the departing audience.

Best band in the world.

Best concert I've ever been to.

Absolute worst venue.


Last edited by David Meadows, 4/12/2015, 1:06


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"Music, shorn of labels and standing alone, when it is conceived, composed and performed with love and integrity, can elevate us all."
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Re: London O2 - 3/12/15 (Short Review)


Dammit, forgot to mention Demon's Eye! And probably some more too...

---
"Music, shorn of labels and standing alone, when it is conceived, composed and performed with love and integrity, can elevate us all."
Jon Lord 1941 - 2012
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Re: London O2 - 3/12/15 (Short Review)


Proper version with typos fixed (but no content mistakes edited, because that would be cheating) is now on my web site:

[sign in to see URL]



---
"Music, shorn of labels and standing alone, when it is conceived, composed and performed with love and integrity, can elevate us all."
Jon Lord 1941 - 2012
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Re: London O2 - 3/12/15 (Short Review)


Great Review - but I like the O2 Arena although where I was sat (also upper tier with Ian Paice obscured), sound was not quite as crystal clear as on the orchestral tour.

Violinist was Stephen Bentley Klein, conductor on orchestral tour who also did a violin duel with SM in Lazy on that tour
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Re: London O2 - 3/12/15 (Short Review)


If David Meadows can't get a decent seat then what chance do mere mortals have.
Bruce Payne, are you listening?
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Re: London O2 - 3/12/15 (Short Review)


Violinist was Steven Bently-Kleine (sp?) from the orchestra tour a couple of years back

David I feel for you. I was 7 rows from the front and had a great view. Between acts I looked up at the topmost seats and wondered who in their right mind would think about creating seats so high for a concert. Oh, silly me it's about making money not providing a "customer experience"

Last edited by saturns rings, 4/12/2015, 20:10
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Re: London O2 - 3/12/15 (Short Review)


The O2 is an amazing sense of occasion because it's so big and grand. I took the cable car across from my hotel and as you fly up to the place with Deep Purple on the video screens advertising what's on tonight, it's a great way to build up. A smaller venues tour would be amazing but I'd much prefer this than Wembley or any other arena in the UK.
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Re: London O2 - 3/12/15 (Short Review)


hi dave,
I had the bloody same problem with the screens. couldn't see don airey at all and occasionally steve morse was so far back couldn't see him either!
if they had the lovely screen at the back showing the snow falling on the log cabin I couldn't work out why they needed the side ones!

have to say rival sons bore me something stupid.
this is the third time i've seen them.
first was at high voltage festival, then supporting black stone cherry in Norwich and finally here.
I'm afraid they are beginning to beleive their own hype (particularly planet rock).
I wish it would have been the dead daises supporting whos album is great.
but prob just not my taste as they did seem to be going down well.

of the newies loved Vincent price and hell to pay.
demons eye was great to hear live and I'm with you, cant beat highway star as an opener.

I was trying to work out gillans voice, almost sounded a bit squeaky at times for want of a better phrase.
but having seen rob halford 2 nights before its fantastic these blokes the age they are can still put in more than a credible performance.

as for the venue I take the o2 anytime over Wembley arena.
easy for me to get a train back and I thought the sound was good.
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