A new release documents one of the important performances at the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival. Deep Purple with Orchestra - Live at Montreux 2011 captures the band whose song Smoke On The Water popularized the festival, live in concert, performing there earlier this year during the annual summer festival. Purple closed out the final night of the 2011 edition, which was the 45th version of the long running European event.
Deep Purple today features Ian Gillan on vocals, Ian Paice on drums, Roger Glover on bass, Steve Morse on guitar, and Don Airey on keyboards. They’ve recently resurrected the orchestra concept for Purple, who were in many ways pioneers of the blending of rock and classical, via their late 60’s initial experiments with the idea.
The show opens with the typical Purple opener of Highway Star, arguably the best way to get a Purple show rolling. Everyone is in fine form and the show starts with the orchestra, then joined by the band. They blend tunes from throughout the many eras of the group, and fans are treated to many less familiar numbers, as well as Purple favorites, and concert classics they’ve included in shows since day one.
Some of the early classics fans may appreciate after the roaring opening include Maybe I’m A Leo, and Strange Kind Of Woman (see the smoking video of this from the DVD below). Steve Morse has been in Deep Purple now longer than any other guitarist (by far), and it shows. He’s so familiar with the material, recreating the sounds like Ritchie Blackmore might have in some spots, or perhaps Tommy Bolin, and adding his own feel in other moments. He’s a masterful player.
Woman From Tokyo showcases Ian Gillan’s more R n’ B style these days, and the arrangements of tunes like that help make it a more organic groove filled performance than a heavy rock show. Ian’s voice still sounds great; worn from years of work, and his appearance is more like a rocking grandfather than imposing hard rock front man.
A highpoint in the concert is Knocking At Your Back Door, one of the Perfect Strangers numbers that evolved into a must-have classic in the repertoire. Don Airey shows why he was so in-demand with Ozzy and bands like Jethro Tull over the years; he’s such a valuable player, and still looks fantastic. His work on Lazy and his solo also are highpoints in the show. So many incredible sounds he delivers over the course of the night, always complimenting the rich sound of the orchestra. The orchestra players, for their part, look to thoroughly enjoy the performance.
Perfect Strangers continues the nod to the mid-80’s revival of Deep Purple, and the songs contours provide the perfect run for the orchestra to cut loose. Space Truckin’ is as raucous and hard rockin’ as ever, yet brought to a new level of massiveness via the addition of the orchestral arrangements.
Smoke On The Water is the song of the night, and delivered as a huge climax, though Hush and Black Night are additional numbers to wrap up what is a memorable concert.
Added bonuses with the package include band interviews which provide some insight into the Purple mindset with this line-up. After meeting them in person a few times, their good-natured quality displayed in the interview segment comes across as an accurate portrayal of some of the nicest guys in rock.