DEEP PURPLE’S Ian Gillan (left) and Steve Morse rock out in Live Park Rishon Lezion..
(photo credit: LIOR KETER)
When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced Deep Purple’s induction at the end of 2015, it called the band’s non-inclusion until then “a gaping hole which must now be filled.” After Sunday night’s enthralling performance by the third member of the “holy trinity of hard rock and metal bands” in front of some 10,000 fans at Live Park Rishon Lezion, it’s clear just how big that hole actually was.
Coming off seven shows in Japan, Deep Purple chose to open the Western portion of its 2016 tour in Israel, which should come as no surprise to local fans; Sunday’s performance was the sixth time the band has played in the Holy Land.
Led by the group’s elder statesman, singer Ian Gillan, Deep Purple treated the crowd to a host of classics, peppered with a few post-2000 works. At the age of 70, Gillan doesn’t have the range he exhibited earlier in his career with the band, which dates back to 1969. But his charisma, charm and stage presence throughout the show was at the heart and soul of the performance.
Kicking off the show with old-time favorites “Highway Star,” “Bloodsucker,” “Hard Lovin’ Man” and “Strange Kind of Woman,” with Gillan partially reaching the vocal heights of years past, the band moved on to more recent works. Starting with “Vincent Price” followed by “Contact Lost” and “Uncommon Man,” guitarist Steve Morse and keyboardist Don Airey, Deep Purple’s newest, albeit veteran members, took over.
Morse can easily make one forget the band’s original guitarist Ritchie Blackmoore, as he displayed a diverse combination of classical and jazz-like sequences that testify to his status as one of the world’s top guitarists. Airey, meanwhile, wowed the crowd with a number of solos on the Hammond organ, Deep Purple’s iconic instrument that was introduced by the late Jon Lord. Airey’s solo in “Uncommon Man,” which was inspired by the classical “Fanfare for the Common Man,” is in fact a tribute to Lord, who was the band’s very first member upon its establishment in 1968.
Then it was time for drummer and original Deep Purple member Ian Paice to take over in “The Mule.” During his breathtaking solo, the stage darkened as Paice revved things up and played with illuminated drumsticks that gave off red, green and blue flashes in a pyrotechnic display.
With Gillan, Morse and longstanding band member bassist Roger Glover taking center stage for another recent hit, “Hell to Pay,” the atmosphere in the crowd ratcheted up a notch. It reached its peak as the band closed out the official part of the show with two classics, “Space Truckin’” and the de rigueur “Smoke on the Water.”
For its first encore, “Hush,” Morse and Airey engaged in a riveting five-minute interplay that this author is still trying to fathom. And then Glover finally led the way with a short solo opening up the night’s final piece, “Black Night.”
With Deep Purple planning to release yet another album soon, perhaps Israelis will have another opportunity to see the group. If not, Sunday night’s show left the avid local fan base with everlasting memories of an outstanding performance by one of rock’s true legends.