The idea of a rock band performing with an orchestra is nothing new. Both Metallica and the Scorpions have done it in recent years but along with The Nice, Deep Purple pioneered the idea way back in 1969 when the band performed Jon Lord's Concerto For Group And Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
They even performed it again not too far back at the turn of the Millennuim with guest Ronnie James Dio. Billed as The Songs That Built Rock, Deep Purple are performing yet again, this time with a 38 piece orchestra, the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt, this time playing some of their greatest hits along with some newer material.
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With an Overture introduction from the orchestra which had a little amount of swing the band waltzed onto the stage and ploughed into a thumping 'Highway Star'. This classic has every ingredient, the driving bass and breakneck speed of the guitar, keyboards and drums thundering along at top speed with the screaming vocals of Ian Gillan. This is the song that's kicked up dust into the faces of all bands that have followed.
Ian Gillan is now in his mid sixties and dosn't quite have the youthful yell he once had but still does a very amicable and enthusiastic job.
'Hard Loving Man' from Purple's breakthrough album 'In Rock' was a welcome addition to the set being played for the first time on these Isles in four decades with the soaring keyboards from Don Airey fighting against the symphonic sounds from the orchestra.
'Rapture Of The Deep' is introduced as a new song although as Gillan admits is now five years old. Purple have been on the road ever since and this title track is one of the strongest live numbers in the set.
Steve Morse has now been in the band for 17 years and his six string work on the instrumental 'Well Dressed Guitar' is exhilarating and has brought a new jazzier sound to the Purple machine.
Conductor for the evening Ralf Hubner plays a light hearted violin solo on 'Lazy' to great applause. The hard hitting funkiness of 'No One Came' is another surprise in the set and now finally the audience are ignoring the security and getting up on their feet.
Ian Paice for me is the best drummer in the world bar none, never missing a beat and still with the power of an ox.
'Smoke On The Water' naturally brought the house down. Encores of the pre Gillan hit 'Hush' and 'Black Night' ended a colourful evening.
As much as I enjoyed watching Deep Purple with an orchestra, I do still prefer to see the band In Rock in their stripped form because Purple still have plenty to offer.
Hard Loving Man
Maybe I'm A Leo
Strange Kind Of Woman
Rapture Of The Deep
Woman From Tokyo
When A Blind Man Cries
Well Dressed Guitar
Knocking At Your Back Door
No One Came
Smoke On The Water