Deep Purple: Live at Montreux with Orchestra

DeepPurple-LiveatMontreux

Deep Purple
Live at Montreux with Orchestra
(Eagle Rock Ent.)

Heavy metal pioneers Deep Purple have released several live albums in their 40-plus year career, including a previous Live at Montreux offering, but this July 16, 2011 concert was indeed one for the ages. The band who immortalized the small town on the banks of Lake Geneva in their 1972 hit song “Smoke on the Water” closed the 45th Annual Montreux Jazz Festival supported by the 38-piece Neue Philharmonic from Frankfurt, conducted by Stephen Bentley-Klein.

From the opening wall-of-sound blast of the speed metal prototype “Highway Star,” you know this isn’t your average gimmicky greatest hits,  PBS-type show, it’s gonna rock!

Deep Purple Mark VIII, as they are affectionately known to fans, includes three original members: vocalist Ian Gillan, drummer Ian Paice, and Roger Glover on bass.  Guitarist supreme Steve Morse joined the band in 1994, and Don Airey replaced legendary keyboardist Jon Lord in 2011.

This lineup may be the most muscular for the band since its inception. Gillian, who invented “Stand Up and Shout” wailing long before Steele Dragon, has lost none of his stratospheric range and power. Ian Paice, who truly is Buddy Rich and John Bonham rolled into one, may be the greatest unsung drum hero of all time. He and Glover are a force of nature.  Morse and Airy shine as the concert masters who have created fresh and inventive arrangements of Purple’s greatest hits and classic album tracks, including ”Woman From Tokyo,” “Lazy,” and “Space Truckin’,” weaving in tight harmonic layers of strings and horns into the guitar and keyboard riffs and arpeggios.

“Rapture of the Deep,” the passage to India romp from Purple’s latest album, does show that the band has new material to show off as well. After delivering a 17-song set climaxed by a nine-minute version of “Smoke on the Water,” the band returns for a playful encore, first jamming on “Green Onions,” then launching into a solo-filled orchestral version of their first hit record “Hush” and fan favorite “Black Night.”

Live at Montreux with Orchestra proves that after 40-plus years Deep Purple still loves to perform and DP Mark VIII is in top form.