Menorah Mivtahim Arena
Tel Aviv, May 22
Deep Purple, British rock aristocracy at its finest, played to a sold-out Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv Sunday night, with an adoring crowd cheering them on.
Formed in London in 1968, they became known as part of the unholy trinity of British rock and pioneers of heavy metal together with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Zeppelin and Sabbath may be no more, but Deep Purple remains a highly active working band, putting out new material on a regular basis. They are far from a tribute band and played a number of newer songs, including from 2020’s album Whoosh! and 2021’s Turning to Crime together with some of their best all-time classics.
The band has had many line-up changes over the years with the current lineup, consisting of singer Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice and keyboardist Don Airey being its most stable. Unfortunately, guitarist Steve Morse has taken time away from the band to take care of his wife, who is battling with cancer. Morse’s place is being filled for the time being by Northern Irish blues rocker Simon McBride.
The show begins
The show kicked off at breakneck pace with the all-time classics “Highway Star,” “Pictures of Home” and “Strange Kind of Woman” delivered before they took a break to catch their breath. Gillan greeted the crowd and showed his appreciation for their adoration. It was noteworthy however that he did not mention Israel or Tel Aviv at all nor did he have any Hebrew words prepared to wow the crowd with.
Gillan is still a great singer and belted out his lines perfectly, his performance steadied and measured, rather than highly energetic and bouncing like Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler still do. McBride was especially impressive considering most people would not have known who he was and would have preferred to see Morse in the lineup.
Anyone would have forgiven McBride for standing in the shadows at the back of the stage, playing the role of a spare part for such an iconic band. However, McBride took center stage and gave a real virtuoso performance, playing some phenomenal guitar solos throughout and generally looking the part of someone who has been in Deep Purple for years.
The electric keyboards of Jon Lord played a central role in Deep Purple music throughout the band’s history and when he died, Don Airey became a worthy successor. One of last night’s center pieces was an Airey keyboard solo in which he incorporated a really quite beautiful version of Naomi Shemer’s “Jerusalem of Gold,” which had the crowd singing and waving their phones in the air, flashlights lit, adding to the magic atmosphere. The band was slated to perform again Monday night, for the first time ever, in the capital city.
The band’s most famous and popular number “Smoke on the Water” was aired just before the encore and had everyone in the arena standing up and singing along. Nobody sat down again until the end of the final song “Hush,” another classic, and the lights came up.
The crowd was highly appreciative and roared and cheered for some time and deservedly so.
Deep Purple, which has played here on many occasions, yet again delivered the hard rock goods in Israel.