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Concert Reviews:
Deep Purple makes short work of Long Goodbye stop at the Fox Theatre

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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DETROIT -- Deep Purple may intend to say farewell to the road at some point in the supposedly near future. But on Tuesday night at the Fox Theatre the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame heavy rock troupe showed why it should not necessarily be rushed into retirement.

Across an efficient 95 minutes the British-formed quintet, now in its fifth decade and ninth or so permutation, played to its strengths, and to its members ages (all but one in his 70s). The instrumental solos are not extended quite as long, and guitarist Steve Morse wears a hand brace to counter carpal tunnel issues. Frontman Ian Gillan, meanwhile, is a bit more judicious with his trademark screams. There was also a bit more focus on the ground's blues roots alongside the usual metallic mayhem.

But Deep Purple still powered through its 13-song set with exuberance and confidence, its genuine camaraderie evident in fist bumps and smiling glances throughout the night.

It was also a decidedly old school affair -- no risers for drummer Ian Paice or keyboardist Don Airey, stacks of amps behind Morse and bassist Roger Glover, little in the way of whiz-band showmanship save for the three-panel HD video screen behind the stage. This far along Purple clearly figures it's best served by letting the music do the talking, and it had an abundance to say.

There were, of course, reminders that the group hardly shut down after the 70s, when it had its greatest success. The set showcased later tracks such as "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming," "Time For Bedlam" and "Uncommon Man," the latter a tribute to late keyboardist Jon Lord and preceded by a majestic solo instrumental discourse by Morse. All three stood up well next to the iconic part of the repertoire, including deep digs such as "Demon's Eye" and "Bloodsucker" and enduring favorites like the searing opener "Highway Star," "Perfect Strangers," "Space Truckin'" and, of course, "Smoke on the Water."

Morse and Airey were, not surprisingly, the stars of the night, each taking solos on nearly every song and engaging in some spirited back-and-forth during an encore rendition of "Hush."

Purple, which has a long history with Detroit area venues, made clear it knew exactly where it was on Tuesday night, too. Airey included bits of Mitch Ryder's "CC Rider" and "Jenny Take a Ride" during his keyboard showcase, while the group introduced "Hush" by playing a bit of the Supremes' Motown hit "Baby Love."

There's no word yet on when the Long Goodbye Tour will wrap up, and Purple apparently intends to eke out at least one more album before it's through. But if Tuesday night proves to be the group's last visit to these parts, it will definitely be a favorable final impression.

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