Deep Purple - Live At Montreux 1996 (DVD/CD)
Eagle Rock Entertainment
Hard Rock
16 songs (122'00")
Release year: 2007
Deep Purple, Eagle Rock Entertainment
Reviewed by Marty
Late in 1993, Deep Purple was near the end of their almost 10 year reunion run beginning with 1984's Perfect Strangers album. Things were not going well between Ritchie Blackmore and the rest of the band resulting in Ritchie leaving again for the second time in the band's turbulent history. Guitarist Joe Satriani was brought in to help fulfill Japanese tour obligations and once that was over, the search began for a new guitarist. After Blackmore leaving, one would've thought that it would spell end of the band for good this time. Such was not the case as the remaining members of the classic Machine Head era line-up including Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Jon Lord were determined to keep Deep Purple alive. The guitarist search ended with American born Steve Morse (Steve Morse Band, Dixie Dregs) joining the band and the subsequent release of Purpendicular in 1996. I love that album and to me, it's in my top 5 of the best Deep Purple albums ever. It has the classic Machine Head, Fireball groove yet with just enough freshness in sound to not sound dated and old. The resulting tour for the album saw the band re-solidifying their live performances and enjoying the new rejuvenation of Deep Purple, an aspect that is very evident with this live DVD filmed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1996. Montreux was the scene of the infamous casino fire in 1971 during Deep Purple's stay there that inspired Smoke On The Water and ironically Claude Nobs, the executive producer and founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival is the same Claude mentioned in Smoke On The Water who helped pull out people from the fire.

Although their set was a slightly abbreviated one, we get a great variety of tracks here along with a few new ones from the Purpendicular album. The set begins with a smoking version of Fireball and right from the start, this band hasn't sounded this good since the early 70's. Ian Gillan's voice is just as strong as it ever was and his screams are just amazing. Other classic tracks include Pictures Of Home from the Machine Head album as well as the B-side When A Blind Man Cries that was recorded during the same sessions and has since been included on the remastered version of Machine Head. Woman From Tokyo really gets the place hopping as do killer versions of Black Night and Speed King that see amazing guitar/keyboard "challenges" between Steve Morse and Jon Lord. At one point, while watching Jon Lord rip off the same riff he just did on guitar on his Hammond organ, the wry smile on Steve's face makes it look like he's saying to himself "Holy shit...I'm playing with Deep Purple!!". No-One Came from the Fireball album gets a great shot in the arm as well. I really like the fact that it's not just the usual classics that appear in this setlist and not to worry, for those wanting stuff like Highway Star, Lazy and Perfect Strangers, there's 5 bonus tracks from the band's return performance at the festival in 2000. The Purpendicular material is greeted very warmly by the crowd with Ted The Mechanic, Cascades (I'm Not Your Lover) and Hey Cisco really not all that out of place up against material some of which was over 35 years old at the time of this show. Ian Gillan shows just why he is one of the premier front men/vocalists in rock music with an absolutely stunning performance. His voice is spot on for the whole set aside from a few cracks in his voice during the set filmed in 2000 to which he just laughs it off. I love the part for the encore where he comes out, throws his arms up in the air and proclaims..." it is..." Obviously referring to Smoke On The Water, a track that is so entrenched in the band's legacy. I love the classical piano and guitar intro that borrows themes from the song before Steve Morse launches into the classic opening riff. In fact, lots of other classic tracks are extended with classically flavored intros by keyboardist Jon Lord with many also ending with excerpts from other classic rock tracks of the era including King Crimson's 20th Century Schizoid Man.

There is also an audio verson of the 1996 show in abbreviated format available with two tracks Fools and Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming, a great track from Purpendicular also included from the 2000 performance. It's been a long time since I've seen Deep Purple sound this good and also have so much fun onstage. Ian Gillan has also brought back out his conga drums, something he hasn't used since the 70's to jam with the rest of the band during some of the extended instrumental sections of the older tracks. Roger Glover, Ian Paice and Jon Lord show us just why they are revered as masters of their craft and the guitar prowess of Steve Morse is mind-boggling. He nails the rhythm tracks perfectly in a live situation, something Ritchie Blackmore wasn't all that interested in and with his soloing style, gives the band a slightly different still bluesy yet very technical sound. I guess he was the right choice as some 11 years later (although Jon Lord has retired), the band is still very active, touring extensively and most importantly, very happy doing it.

This DVD is a must for those who may have seen (or heard) some rather substandard live performances from Deep Purple in the past. The production is perfect and I don't think it's possible for this band to have ever sounded better even in the heydays of the 70's when they were at the top of the hard rock heap.

Killing Songs :
Fireball, Speed King, Black Night, Cascades (I'm Not Your Lover), Pictures Of Home and Highway Star
Marty quoted no quote
Other albums by Deep Purple that we have reviewed:
Deep Purple - Whoosh! reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Deep Purple - Who Do We Think We Are reviewed by Thomas and quoted 81 / 100
Deep Purple - Fireball reviewed by Thomas and quoted CLASSIC
Deep Purple - Deep Purple in Rock reviewed by Thomas and quoted CLASSIC
Deep Purple - History, Hits & Highlights '68 - '76 (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
To see all 11 reviews click here
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