Deep Purple, ‘Live In Verona’ – DVD Review
In 1969, Purple released the album, 'Concerto for Group and Orchestra,' which featured the hard rockers and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing Jon Lord's three-movement composition.
Thus, the idea of rock and roll bombast being married to classical bombast was born. In 2011, Deep Purple revisited that idea with a concert at the Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheater originally built in 30 A.D. That concert has now made its way to DVD as 'Live in Verona.'
First things first, the music of Deep Purple is often full of drama and heartily lends itself to this setting. Second, the band are never outshined by the orchestral surroundings as their rock and roll remains front and center. Third, and most importantly, these guys still rock out.
After a brief orchestral intro, things kick in with a rousing 'Highway Star.' All these years on, and singer Ian Gillan is still able to deliver. Though not the full-on force of nature he was 40 years ago, he is powerful throughout the entire performance. Highlights are plenty: 'Hard Lovin' Man,' 'Maybe I'm a Leo' and 'Strange Kind of Woman' are all done justice here.
Though the presence of keyboard legend Jon Lord is missed, replacement Don Airey holds down the fort with respect. Meanwhile, this performance shines a bright light on the attributes of Steve Morse on guitar. He has certainly settled into his role in the band since joining in 1994.
The orchestral backing here is never a distraction, and on certain songs ('Rapture of the Deep' and, surprisingly, 'Woman from Tokyo') it adds an unexpected dimension. That being said, and to be perfectly honest, they don't need any added power, especially with the main man, Ian Paice behind the drum kit. He and bassist Roger Glover still combine to make one of the finest rhythm sections ever to wander onto a rock stage.
Songs from various points in the band's nearly 50-year career are touched upon. 'Space Truckin,' 'Perfect Strangers,' and of course, 'Smoke on the Water' are all rolled out here. 'Smoke' in particular benefits from the added orchestral setting. Encores of two of the band's early classics, 'Hush,' and 'Black Night' wrap things up.
The DVD captures the band in fine form, seemingly right at home in these surroundings. The video as well as sound mix are both first-rate, and while it's ultimately a sidebar story for the band, the use of orchestra is tastefully done, and not overblown. In short, thumbs up all around. Fans will dig it for sure.
'Live in Verona' Track Listing:
'Deep Purple Overture'
'Hard Lovin' Man'
'Maybe I'm a Leo'
'Strange Kind of Woman'
'Rapture of the Deep'
'Woman from Tokyo'
'When a Blind Man Cries'
'The Well-Dressed Guitar'
'Knocking at Your Back Door'
'No One Came'
'Smoke on the Water'