The Deep Purple Project is a massive, ongoing series of in-depth reviews. This is the last for now as we take a break, but Purple will return.
DEEP PURPLE – To the Rising Sun…in Tokyo (2015 Edel 2 CD/1DVD set, Japanese CD with 2 bonus tracks)
Purple live releases have been in strong supply lately. Last year, Purple released a matching set of double live albums, each with a complete DVD of the show in one package. The first set, In Wacken, was reviewed yesterday. Today, we look at In Tokyo. In order to “get it all”, I added the Japanese 2 CD set with bonus tracks to my collection. The bonus tracks are on the CD portion of the package. As we did yesterday, we’ll get the bonus material out of the way first.
The two Japanese extras are instrumental versions of “Hell to Pay” and “Apres Vous”, newer songs from Now What?! I am happy to report that these instrumentals are not live. Since both songs are complete and live on the album proper, I was pleased to find these two are instrumental mixes of the studio cuts. This makes sense, since the instrumental “Hell to Pay” is used as the main menu backing music on the live DVD. As with any instrumental mix, it is interesting to pay attention to the musical interplay. Since it’s Deep Purple we’re speaking about, it’s that much more enjoyable.
Moving on to the live part of the set, the recorded intro of Holst’s “Mars: Bringer of War” has the Budokan crowd in Tokyo excited for the return of Deep Purple. The band bravely opened with “Apres Vous”, the new cut from Now What?! It works surprisingly well by setting a mood. Ian Gillan keeps it from getting too serious by wearing one of those tuxedo-printed shirts. I want one of those.
Gillan’s hoarse on “Into the Fire”, but overall he’s stronger than he was in Wacken. The added grit makes the song tougher and closer to the 1969 original. Also from way back then is “Hard Lovin’ Man”, a pairing that always works well. Don Airey takes an extended Hammond solo, and the song gallops in a way that set the basis for Iron Maiden’s career. Thrills and chills abound, but Morse is smiling so much that you know we’re all in for a good time. What a contrast with the moody and unpredictable Ritchie Blackmore! This breathtaking assault of a song absolutely needs to be played live. It’s no surprise that they need to lay back with something slower after that. “Strange Kind of Woman” does the trick with that unforgettable groove. Morse pulls off a jazzy solo that just kills. This is a far better version than the one in Wacken. Speaking of women and strangeness, it’s odd that “Woman From Tokyo” wasn’t played this time.
“That was the end of the jazz part of the show,” says Ian. Back to new songs, “Vincent Price” is rolled out next. Brought to life on the stage, “Vincent Price” is heavier and chunky. The spooky keyboards are intact and Gillan injects the song with extra terror. Steve Morse is on a roll now, and it’s time for his solo. It’s chopped up a bit compared to how they played it earlier in the year. “Contact Lost” is still first, but this time that goes into “Uncommon Man”. I love watching Steve Morse playing volume swells with his pinky on the knob, while hammering out a complex melody. There are plenty of hand close-ups here. Copy if you can! (I can’t.) When “Uncommon Man” begins, Ian Gillan whispers in Steve’s ear. I like to think he just said, “That was incredible.”
“Uncommon Man” is powerful live, by the way. Steve goes again with his playful “The Well-Dressed Guitar”. The dexterity here is quite unbelievable, but you knew that already. Once again I’m grateful for plenty of hand close-ups. I have no prayer of being able to play this but I love to watch and see how it’s done, and just marvel. During a break in the keyboard part, Don Airey claps and dances along; quite amusing!
The Fireball oldie “The Mule” is always welcome out of the mothballs. A drum workout, Ian Paice is given a chance to show that time has not lessened his abilities one iota. It’s a busy drum song, and quickly descends into a mad solo. At one point, the lights go out and Ian plays with glowing sticks, Sheila E style. He gets to slow down a little on the Jon Lord tribute “Above and Beyond”. Jon’s image behind them on the big screens of the Budokan, you can sense the emotion of the moment. His successor Don Airey plays a Hammond tribute to Jon, before the band return to the sound of “Lazy”. It’s just a seamless blur of one incredible piece of music after another.
“Hell to Pay” continues to prove its worth as a stage-ready, fun rocker. You can tell that the formalities are over now, because Gillan has changed out of his tuxedo print shirt! Don Airey dominates on the Hammond. He gets a spotlight solo next, a chance to do his own thing. Like his solo in Wacken, this includes a snippet of “Mr. Crowley”, a song that Don played on way back in 1980, and the ensuing Ozzy Osbourne tours. His solo runs the gamut from tender piano, to classical passages, to spacey synth. He quotes the melody of “Woman From Tokyo” which the crowd clearly appreciated.
It’s all business from here. “Perfect Strangers”, as usual the only song from the 80’s, is as timeless as always. Back to Machine Head for “Space Truckin'”, Roger Glover seems to be having a great time rocking it for the crowd in Japan. Gillan’s sounding a bit knackered, but he’s still going for it. No retreat, no surrender. The classic riff, “Smoke on the Water” explodes in the Budokan, as we draw close to the end. You can tell they still have fun playing this song, loose and never the same twice. Two encores are still to be had: the medley of “Green Onions”/”Hush”, and “Black Night”. “Hush” is given a neat slinky jam section, because they’re Deep Purple and why the hell not? After a brief Glover bass jam, “Black Night” commences as the final song of the night. Gillan’s sounding tired, but that’s rock and roll. They’re finally done, Roger lingering to make sure he’s thrown out every last pick. That too is rock and roll.
These two sets were time consuming but very entertaining. I think they are both worth having, but if you are not the Purple diehard that needs as much as you can consume, be aware that these are men in their late 60’s. They are not spring chickens, so don’t expect To the Rising Sun…in Tokyo to be the equal of Made in Japan.