DEEP PURPLE with EUROPE
Manchester Arena – Manchester, UK – 18th November 2017Unfortunately, it appeared that there were some strange forces at work to thwart me being able to witness the fantastic Cats in Space land in the Manchester Arena. Switching on of my hometown Christmas lights had caused traffic chaos to ensue, which meant that I was running way behind schedule when I finally arrived at the venue. By the time my photographer and I had circumnavigated the ring of steel security cordon outside the venue, the opening band of the night were already tearing through their set. Next up was locating my seat, and after being wrongly directed on two separate occasions by stewards, I finally landed in my Space fortunately the Cats were still in it and had a few more numbers to play before they finished. First time seeing the Cats out of the cradle of the smaller venues, although they have had some quite high-profile support slots over the last year. The band did seem to slot effortlessly into the larger venue and certainly won over a lot of new fans with their melodic form of pop rock tunes. They will quickly be making a Manchester Arena return as guests of the boogie legends Status Quo on the 26th, and I promise, guys, to leave the house in plenty of time to catch their entire set on that occasion.
Special Guests tonight are Europe – a band that seem to have gone through a recent career resurgence with their recent musical offerings being on a par with anything that the band have previously released. Mixing up songs from the latest Walk the Earth release with their better-known hits, Europe delivered a fantastic slot which was greatly aided by a crystal-clear sound from our seated position. Europe were widely supported throughout their set and it wasn’t exclusively the band’s hits that received a hugely warm response from the rather unusually seated venue. Europe are still relevant musically in 2017, and as I had predicted from having seen the band several times in recent years, many were won over as new converts to a band who easily proved that there was just so much more to them than that one song.
Having a few months ago seen Deep Purple at the Hellfest festival in France, I was obviously familiar with the setlist of the band on this leg of The Long Goodbye Tour – a final farewell or just clever marketing? Only time will tell, I guess. Choosing to focus on their recent studio release, Infinite, surprised many who had assumed that Purple would have been playing a greatest hits selection in an “au revoir” to their musical legacy. Selected choice cuts were, however, present with my particular favourites being “Fireball” and “Perfect Strangers”. Long instrumental sections of the set allowed Purple to return back to their early days where their live shows featured a lot of improvisations. The breaks allowed vocalist Ian Gillan to rest his pipes for periods during the set, nobody’s getting any younger after all. The band served up an entertaining set with the 3 Purple long-stayers being ably supported by Don Airey and Steve Morse. I for one feel that if this is indeed the Long Goodbye for the band, then surely a return to the UK should be included to perform one last Deep Purple set of Greatest Hits.
All Photos © Richard Nurse