Oh look… Yet another live album from Deep Purple. If I seem a little less than enthused, it’s surely due to the fact that more than 30 of them have already been released, so do we really need another one?
No. We do not “need” another one. But we might like one.
Let’s be real. The point wasn’t to attempt to release the band’s quintessential live recording. After all, 1972’s “Made in Japan” had already met that criteria. It’s frequently cited on rock fans’ lists of the best live albums of all time, and its legacy is firmly intact so this new record poses no threat.
So, what’s the point of earMusic’s 2019 release of “Live in Rome 2013”? The simple answer is… documentation. Over five decades or so, Deep Purple has famously and continually undergone dramatic line up changes, resulting in what has been classified as different “Marks” of the band. This line up (Ian Paice, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Steve Morse and Don Airey) is known as Mark VIII, and has proven itself to be by far the most stable and enduring one.
“Live in Rome 2013” is an auditory snapshot of this line-up on its first tour since the sad passing of founding member and heavy rock organ pioneer Jon Lord (who was replaced by Don Airey in 2002). The band had just released its third studio album, “Now What?!” with this line up, and the set-list featured primarily a mixture of Mark II, III and Mark VIII tunes. Ian Gillan strategically avoided tracks recorded by other vocalists like David Coverdale and Joe Lynn Turner, but “Hush” was unavoidable, despite originally being sung by Rod Evans as it was the band’s first hit in the U.S.
So, over the course of 22 tracks, we have a vast blend of some things old and some things new, as well as a testament to the enduring formula of Deep Purple – bombastic guitar, roaring organ, soaring vocals and a rock solid rhythm section. Not only does this record demonstrate that the band was still an effective live unit, but it also showcases the talents of the individual players.
Steve Morse, who stepped into what would arguably be one of the hardest sets of rock shoes to fill in replacing the iconic Richie Blackmore, shines throughout, including his own guitar solo, the spotlight instrumentals “Contact Lost” and “The Well Dressed Guitar” and the climatic extended ending of the closer, “Black Knight.” There he rambles around a variety of familiar themes and gets an energetic call and return with the crowd. Morse is the lone American in this very British band, and rather than attempt to emulate an Englishman like Blackmore, Morse owns the material here but plays it his own way, changing the sound a bit from the originals, but making it all the more authentic to the Mark VIII lineup’s sound. Hats off to Morse’s confidence in being himself and bending the band a bit his way rather than falling into the losing trap of standing in Blackmore’s shadow.
Don Airey takes the forefront extensively throughout, also dodging the spectre of Jon Lord but proving that keyboards can in fact still hold their own, compete and cooperate with blaring electric guitars. He takes an extended solo that meanders from church pipe organ and space synths to honky tonk and classical piano, culminating with a psychedelic collage of sound that demonstrates his diversity. In “Hush,” Morse and Airey trade licks in an extended jam that sums up nicely what Deep Purple is all about. His wooshes, runs, licks and power chords throughout the disc make a compelling case that he was just the man to carry on Lord’s massive legacy.
Drummer Ian Paice is the one consistent element found in every one of the Deep Purple eras. And that’s exactly what he is on this recording – energetic and reliable. He takes the spotlight in the opening to “Bodyline” and rumbles around the kit on “The Mule” with classic, old school precision and pounding. In a time when so many drummers are sneaking in so many extra double bass notes, it’s refreshing to hear Paice’s solid, song-oriented playing. His kit is well mic’d and mixed and sounds solid while pushing the band along.
Roger Glover joins Paice in providing the meaty bottom end of the band, and while he spends more time “fitting” than “being featured,” he gladly takes his moment in the bright lights on the bass solo near the end of the gig. It’s more musical than a demonstration of capabilities, and that makes it more listenable and sits a bit more in the pocket amidst Morse and Airey’s leads.
Front-man Ian Gillan sounds like he’s having a good time on stage, perhaps at times at the expense of technical perfection, but this wasn’t originally performed with the intention of a release, and it’s fun to hear his onstage humor. In fact, he seems thrilled to be working alongside Morse and his signature vibrato tone. The versions of “Smoke on the Water” and “Space Truckin’” here are maybe a little sloppy in spots but in good fun. Gillan’s nasaly vocals still mostly reach heights and retain their unique sound. There is no attempt to recreate the haunting screams of “Child in Time,” and that’s probably for the best.
All in all, while “Live in Rome 2013” doesn’t necessarily provide any drastic revelations about Deep Purple Mark VIII, it does document the fact that this distinctive and talent collective of players are more than capable of sustaining the energy and innovation of a classic rock band decades after arriving on the scene, much to the delight of the roaring crowd.
Released By: earMusic
Release Date: December 6th, 2019
Genre: Hard Rock
- Ian Gillan / Vocals
- Roger Glover / Bass Guitar
- Steve Morse / Guitars
- Ian Paice / Drums
- Don Airey / Keyboards
“Live In Rome 2013” track-listing:
3. Into The Fire
4. Hard Lovin’ Man
5. Vincent Price
6. Strange Kind Of Woman
7. Contact Lost
8. Guitar Solo
9. All The Time In The World
10. The Well-Dressed Guitar
11. The Mule
1. Above And Beyond
2. No One Came
3. Key Solo
4. Perfect Strangers
5. Space Truckin’
6. Smoke On The Water
8. Bass Solo
9. Black Night
Yet another live release from the band’s archives, this one capturing the classic rockers on their first tour since the passing of legendary founding member Jon Lord in 2012. While not terribly surprising, it does document a solid performance by talented players who don’t shy from showing off their musical capabilities.