Review By John Shymko, Photos by Lee-Ann Wylie.
I may have just found out where all the guys that used to work at Steve’s Music in Toronto went.
“I’m in a band, so I know that Richie used to use a strat, while Steve Morse…” Deep Purple 2012. Massey Hall.
The guy beside me is raving about a Norwegian heavy metal band who plays Johnny Cash that he recently “discovered”. Black Label Society leather vests a few seats ahead of me, beside a woman in a Jack Daniels Toque. “Jukebox hero” driving the equipment change between bands… uh oh… is this a sign?
Silence, then Arabic scales… suddenly things get a little interesting. People stand… Steve Morse starts to tease…
But wait… what’s this? Bill Murray? Hold on… It’s Ian Gillan. Highway Star erupts.
Deep Purple was formed in 1968 and has included the likes of Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Joe Satriani, Joe Lynn Turner, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes… a virtual who’s who of rock royalty. The current configuration consists of Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and relative newcomers Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs and Kansas) and Don Airey (Gary Moore, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Whitesnake…) One of the few classically inspired keyboard players that escaped the “wimpy factor.”
Back to Bill… uh, Ian… By the time Hard Lovin’ man breaks out, Gillan has warmed up. Born in 1945, he’s, umm, sixty six? What? That’s incredible. Gillan is fantastic. Not at all what I had expected.
“It’s hard to breathe when something spiritual is taking place.” Well, maybe spiritual is a little much, but this is good music.
There is a little blonde tart is dancing a number of rows in front of me, cupping her hands and trying to make eye contact with ANYONE in the band. Ian Gillan gives her a full seven seconds of fame by drawing an imaginary bow and firing an arrow at her. Presumably in the direction of her heart. She catches it.
She finally sits down when Gillan introduces “the next president of the united states”, Steve Morse.
It’s solo time. The band dissipates and Morse is alone with the crowd. Searing extended melodic raptures… volume swells… touch tapping… artificial and squeezed harmonics… this alone is worth the ticket. Steve Morse doesn’t make mistakes. Ever.
Uh oh. More characters from the audience. Some guy who looks like a fusion between Billy Gibbons and Santa Claus. No, wait… there’s some of your weird Uncle Al from Tennessee in there. The one that your parents would never leave you alone with. He’s “catching butterflies”. The way deadhead chicks dance. But I think he’s also crushing them. More like killing moths, i think.
He works his way to the front of the stage, lithely eluding security. The crowd starts cheering him on. This is like the old days. 🙂 A dramatic sequence of Ol’ Uncle Al being led back to his seat and then breaking free to express his art.
Suddenly, The blonde tart is feeling jilted. She makes for the stage but is escorted back to her seat. Score one for security.
The band breaks into “lazy” and the audience is in rapture.
Gillan knocks off a reasonable harmonica solo and fishes in his Jeans pocket for another Harmonica. Huh? The tune modulates UP a tone. And Gillan’s voice commands the hall. He’s great. Simply wonderful.
There’s a very tasty Keyboard solo, a la Rick Wakeman with a Hammond. Gospel, classical, ragtime. Deadly player. The solo ends and shortly into Perfect Strangers, the blonde is back. She slips by uncle Santabillyclaus and works her way to the stage. Security comes running but passes her by. She’s a star again and life is good.
Rows of baseball cap wearing Willie Lomans start singing the obligatory “smoke on the water.”
How it ended for my blonde friend or the not so gentle giant, i don’t know.
Talk about perfect strangers.