Not so much a Deep Purple live album as a concerto featuring Deep Purple among other guests, this 2CD set was recorded in September of 1999 at the Royal Album Hall, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Purple's first appearance at the famed concert hall. Many will remember the famous (or infamous in the eyes of many!) Concert for Group and Orchestra that Purple particpated in 30+ years ago, something which was ahead of its time, here it's more of a "been there, done that" sort of affair. Conducted by Paul Mann, there's actually plenty of nice orchestral bits here, as well as some rockin' Purple tracks. For many, hearing legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio guest starring on "Sitting In a Dream" and "Love is All", both songs from The Butterfly Ball, complete here with orchestra on the former and the funky Kick Horns on the latter, will be a treat. Unfortunately that's the highlight on the first half of CD 1, which is mostly filled with mellow vocal tracks with the orchestra and a variety of guest singers. There's no Purple presence until Ian Gillan enters for the rootsy rock of of "Via Miami", and Steve Morse brings in his solo bandmates for the killer instrumental "Take It Off the Top", backed up nicely by horns and violin. Then Deep Purple come out for solid renditions of "Wring That Neck" and "Pictures of Home", backed again by the orchestra and horn section. Jon Lord turns in a lethal Hammond solo on "Wring That Neck", while Gillan and Morse sound especially savage on the lengthy "Pictures of Home".
The second disc is much more solid, as you have the first three movements of the Concerto For Group and Orchestra, followed by four hard rocking Purple tracks, "Ted the Mechanic", "Watching the Sky", the melodic gem "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" (complete with a stunning Morse solo), and a kick ass version of "Smoke on the Water", featuring Dio singing alongside Gillan for what is certainly a memorable moment and one of the highlights of this set. If you don't get chills hearing Ronnie throwing his venemous vocals in after a prod from Gillan you need to check your pulse.
Overall this is kind of a mixed bag-when it's hot, the performances are inspiring, but there's too much schmaltz at the beginning of the first disc to rate this any higher than a mid-level grade.
1. Pictured Within
2. Wait A While
3. Sitting In A Dream
4. Love Is All
5. Via Miami
6. That's Why God Is Singing The Blues
7. Take It Off The Top
8. Wring That Neck
9. Pictures Of Home
1. Concerto For Group And Orchestra - Movement I
2. Concerto For Group And Orchestra - Movement II
3. Concerto For Group And Orchestra - Movement III
4. Ted The Mechanic
5. Watching The Sky
6. Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
7. Smoke On The Water