A concert review by Sea of Tranquility Editor Pete Pardo.
Sunday night, February 29, 2004, was the night that two 70's legends made their North American stop in New York City at the famous Beacon Theater. Deep Purple, hot on the heels of their new CD release Bananas, are bringing the Phil Lynott-less Thin Lizzy with them as opening act, and the two bands put on a spririted and fiery set of 70's and 80's hard rock nostalgia.
Thin Lizzy is basically now just John Sykes and Scott Gorham, the red-hot guitar duo from the Cold Sweat incarnation of the band, and they are joined on the tour by a bassist and drummer whose names I could not make out, but both were very good, especially the drummer. The band kicked through roughly 35 minutes of Thin Lizzy classics, with Sykes handling the lead vocals and doing his best Lynott impression. Tunes like "Jailbreak", "Bad Reputation", "Rosalie", "Emerald", "Waiting for an Alibi", "Cold Sweat" , and of course the rousing closer "The Boys Are Back in Town", got the crowd all sorts of fired up, despite the less than perfect muddy sound mix. Sykes was his virtuoso self on lead guitar, and Gorham also contributed some hot solos as well. The two work real well together, dueling their trademark twin guitar harmonies, and all in all the band really gelled despite the fact that their former leader has long since passed on. It was more like a "Thin Lizzy" tribute band, but well done and got things started in heavy fashion.
When Deep Purple made it to the stage less than 30 minutes later, the crowd was in eager anticipation with the news that the band was going to play the whole Machine Head album in its entirety. Before launching into that classic set of tunes, the boys charged into a hard rockin' song from the new album Bananas, called "Silver Tongue", followed by the ever familiar "Woman From Tokyo." Another tune from the new album, "I Got Your Number", followed, then the familiar keyboard drone of "Perfect Strangers", courtesy of new member Don Airey filled the air, and of course the crowd responded with delight. At this point you could tell the band was in fine form, especially Steve Morse and Ian Gillan, both who were at the top of their game and having a great time. Other cuts played were "Strange Kind of Woman", "Bananas", "Knocking at Your Back Door" plus a majestic keyboard solo from Airey, and a wonderful guitar piece from Morse, before the band ripped into the entire Machine Head album.
Hearing songs like "Maybe I'm Leo", "Pictures of Home", and "Never Before" absolutely made this concert worth the price of admission alone for most long time Purple fans, as these rarely heard songs were wrapped around staples like "Highway Star", "Smoke on the Water", "Lazy" and "Space Trucking." The real surpise was hearing the bluesy B-side "When a Blind Man Cries", complete with emotional vocals from Gillan and Morse's chilling lead lines. Morse and Airey make a fiery combination on many of these classic cuts, and what was nice to hear was Morse moving a bit away from Ritchie Blackmore's solos and injecting his own style into these tunes. Ian Gillan had the fire in his gut on this night, as he sounded better than he has in years. The rhythm duo of Roger Glover and Ian Paice were rock solid as always, allowing their flashier bandmates the solo space while providing the steady bottom end.
For encores, the band ripped into a ripping version of "Speed King" , plus a 50's medley, before finishing up with the Hammond organ driven "Hush."
In summary, this was a very enjoyable evening, spent with some near and dear musical friends who keep giving their audience what they want, and that is quality hard rock. Who says getting older is no fun? Certainly not Deep Purple or Thin Lizzy!