The Deep Purple Project must continue! Their most recent live releases are next up.
DEEP PURPLE – From the Setting Sun…in Wacken (2015 Edel 2 CD/1DVD set)
“This record is the first of a double release,” says Roger Glover in the liner notes. The second is called To the Rising Sun…in Tokyo which we’ll examine in a separate review (including the Japanese bonus tracks). This nicely assembled three disc set has the entire show on both CD and DVD, a 2013 concert at the legendary Wacken Open Air festival.
Our friend of ours, Jessie David at 107.5 Dave Rocks, went to Wacken in 2015. “I can say that going to Wacken is truly life-changing. It is an experience like no other: Where every single person there is part of a family.” Roger Glover says the real stars of this show are the audience.
There is one small bonus feature on this DVD to get out of the way before we start the show. It was surprising to see Deep Purple release a new music video in 2013! “Vincent Price” was a fun music clip, featuring plenty of band shots. The horror movie storyline is entertaining and make for a fun video. Perhaps the actor in the video playing the titular character should also play Governor Tarkin in an upcoming Star Wars anthology film? This video is not really appropriate for kids, so be forewarned!
Purple’s Wacken set was filmed and recorded for posterity quite well. I don’t know if I have ever seen Deep Purple captured so clearly. Taking the stage in daylight, we begin with “Highway Star”.
Ian Gillan’s voice is quite thin; this is one of the poorest live Deep Purple releases as far as vocals go. That’s unfortunate but at least they didnt’ “fix it in the mix” as they say. Roger Glover seems to be having a blast, pulling faces and poses over on the bass station. Bathed in the setting sun (hence the album title), the lighting is quite dramatic. The old In Rock classic “Into the Fire”, rarely played, is up next. Ian really struggles with his voice, having to affect a nasal tone, but he’s starting to warm up a bit now. Hey; the man is 70 years old! Then, directly into “Hard Lovin’ Man” from the same album, another rarely played smoker. Ian’s on track now! Organist Don Airey is brilliant on this.
Newish single “Vincent Price”, the same song as the music video, is next in the set. Because of the spooky keyboards, it does not sound like any of the prior songs, which is great as the sun goes lower on the horizon. I think new material works best sprinkled in the set at the right times, and that’s the approach Purple took here. This corker moves directly into “Strange Kind of Woman” somehow, but this oldie is starting to sound a bit tired. The first solo spot of the show is Steve Morse’s dual guitar solo, “Contact Lost” and “The Well-Dressed Guitar”. This dramatic scene is a show highlight, as thousands of people wave their hands in the air to the music. The two musical pieces are brilliant in composition and execution. Another new single, “Hell to Pay” has to follow this smoke show. The song always struck me as custom-written for the stage, and this appears to be true in Wacken.
Don Airey’s keyboard spotlight on “Lazy” is impressive. It’s hard to forget the man he replaced in Deep Purple (Jon Lord). In many ways his solo is a tribute to Lord, as he plays a few cues that Jon wrote. The band never seems to tire of playing it. However they stall a bit on “Above and Beyond”, perhaps a song less well adapted to the stage. “No One Came” on the other hand always kicks ass live. With Don Airey on keyboards it has some new flavours to it, and then he gets a full-fledged keyboard solo of his own. He plays all over the musical map, and even hints at “Mr. Crowley”, a song he used to play with Ozzy Osbourne.
“Perfect Strangers” is usually the only song from the 1980’s that Deep Purple still play. The drama builds as we get closer to the end of the show. It is dark out now in Wacken but the crowd still bounce along to the music. I have long felt that “Perfect Strangers” works very well with Steve Morse on guitar, and that was true in Wacken in 2015. Then we’re off “Space Truckin'”, another song boasting many jawdropping musical moments.
The biggest surprise is the appearance of a wisened Uli Jon Roth on “Smoke on the Water”. He and Steve Morse have a blast playing off each other. Think of it: Two of the most unique and incredible guitarists in the world on one stage, playing back and forth. I say this often in my Deep Purple reviews, but what more could you want? Uli’s solo is pure magic. He is a force of nature, but so is Steve Morse. If Uli is wind, then Morse is fire.
Encore time: Purple started playing “Green Onions” as a prelude to “Hush” a couple years ago. This is one of the most magical moments in the set. The energy is palpable. “Black Night”, which also has a brief segue into Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times”, is the final tune of the night, an otherwise standard take with amazing playing regardless.
It’s a fair bet that Purple won over Wacken in 2013. Pick up this live set for a taste.