Rock legends Deep Purple continued their extensive ‘Now What?!’ World Tour with a visit to Bordeaux in France. Joining them for two dates, rising stars RavenEye opened as special guests, bringing old school together with the new school of rock to make this an explosive combination.
Straight from a North American tour supporting Slash, RavenEye came on to the stage and kicked ass from the very first note of their set with the opening song ‘Get It Started’. As bassist Aaron Spiers crouched down before springing back up to perform some epic head banging moves to his grooving bass, eyes were drawn to Kev Hickman on drums, twirling the sticks with a massive smile, hair streaming out as he pounded those drums with a mammoth beat. Not to be outshone with these spectacular and entertaining rock star moves, singer and guitarist Oli Brown moved across the stage like a man possessed in between the vocals, bringing more of a dark side to the performance than a Sith Lord.
By the time the first song was over, they already had the crowd enthralled with the energy this band unleashed on stage. ‘Come With Me’ and ‘Oh My Love’ turned up the heat to volcanic proportions, as Oli and Aaron moved to the edge of the stage, rocking out with an animated crowd who were lapping up every moment of this high energy, in your face set. Their latest single ‘Hey Hey Yeah’ with its infectious hooks and beats went down a storm as the crowd sang along with the chorus and the band totally connected with the crowd. After a whirlwind of killer riffs and a monster rhythm, they showcased a slightly softer side with ‘Home Sweet Home’, where an intricate and delicate guitar mixed with superb vocal harmonies, that slowly built into a crescendo of sound.
However it was soon back to a fuzzorama of breath-taking proportions with their debut single ‘Breaking Out’, as the vocals soared around the venue, and the guitar riffs shredded to the max. Making full use of the stage, no platform was safe as Aaron climbed on to amps, Kev thumped those drums with a herculean force and Oli worked the crowd in to a frenzy on the final song ‘You Got It’. With Oli balancing on the kick drum, and the crowd clapping along to the song, this brought to a close a dazzling performance. RavenEye have exploded on to the scene this year and with such an electrifying live set, 2016 is going to be the Year Of The RavenEye.
With a large Deep Purple backdrop bathing the empty stage in a reddish glow, as ‘Mars, The Bringer Of War’ from Holst’s ‘The Planets’ boomed out around the venue in anticipation of Deep Purple, you could feel the excitement crackling through the crowd. ‘Highway Star’ opened this magnificent set as the crowd went wild to the sound of this classic song. For many Deep Purple is at its best with Ian Gillan on vocals and with such a superb and powerful rendition of the song from the outset, the band effortlessly proved why they are still one of the biggest and most influential rock bands in the world. ‘Demon’s Eye’, ‘Hard Lovin’ Man’ and ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’ had the crowd eating out of their hands, as the guitar riffs resounded through the venue, the bass line pulsated through the speakers, additional layers of sound were added with the keyboards and a mesmeric drum beat all combined to produce an outstanding kaleidoscope of sound.
This wasn’t just about nostalgia although the band have an immense back catalogue to choose from, songs from the ‘Now What?!’ album slotted in perfectly with their iconic tracks as ‘Vincent Price’ reminded the crowd just how excellent their new songs were. Each band member brought their outstanding talents to the stage, and whilst Ian took a back seat, an instrumental of epic proportions filled the venue, during which Ian returned to the stage mid-song to play a single beat on a small gong as his contribution, which for those he was stood in front of, brought much joy and a smattering of laughter to the set. Although some of the audience (apart from yours truly who had flown over from England for the concert) may not have entirely understood all that was being said on stage, there was such a connection with the band and crowd that the music spoke enough to everyone there, to make them feel a massive part of the evening.
Barely pausing for breath, the songs kept washing over the crowd, ‘Uncommon Man’, ‘The Well Dressed Guitar’, to which Steve Morse played an outstanding guitar solo, moving across the stage to engage with the crowd whilst playing breath-taking riff upon riff, sounding orchestral at times and playing notes that were off the scale, before ‘The Mule’, ‘Lazy’, ‘Mary Long’ and ‘Hell To Pay’ held the entire crowd in wonder and awe. Each member of the band had their own solo spot, which was magnificent to watch, and the master of the drums Ian Paice was no exception. Looking like he was barely touching the drums but producing a mammoth sound, the drum solo was stunning and as the lights dimmed, he swapped over to coloured led drum sticks that shone in psychedelic patterns as he played.
RARC last saw Deep Purple when the great, late Jon Lord was still in the band, but Don Airey on keyboards more than stepped up to the mark to fill such big shoes. Surrounded by a bank of keyboards, his fingers caressed the keys at lightening speed as the grooves of the Hammond organ swirled with a myriad of notes, ranging from a psychedelic-infused style to the distinctive sound of Deep Purple, bringing a more progressive element to the set, as the crowd whooped with delight.
Every band though has those songs that have to be played and so ‘Perfect Strangers’ had the crowd pumping fists in the air as they sang along with the entire song. 14 songs in of non stop playing and the band were still giving it their all with no signs of flagging, to a crowd that was absolutely spellbound at seeing them play live. Upping the tempo with ‘Space Truckin’’, everyone there was just going crazy by this point and words just could not describe how impressive the whole set had been so far. “Der der der, der der – der der” told everyone there which song was being played next as the place erupted with an enormous cheer, and ‘Smoke On The Water’ played out as the final song of the set. This produced even more wows than previously experienced before, as the band played the final notes in front of a crowd which brought the house down with the roar of approval.
As chants for more rose into a wall of sound, the band returned to the stage and ‘Hush’, the Joe South cover, which no one else other than Deep Purple have even come close to doing a better version of, got the crowd dancing and clapping along in an even more frenzied excitement as bodies swayed to the groove of this infectious song. Roger Glover played a bass solo which showcased sounds not heard before, including a number of riff like notes as Ian Paice accompanied him on the drums. It was fast-paced and watching his fingers move over the frets, you were stood rooted to the spot, all eyes on him as he played. It was left to the final song of the night ‘Black Night’ to leave those there with one final reminder that Deep Purple are still a force to be reckoned with, and although many newer bands may be snapping at their heels, this is a band that rises above even the status of legends. After a truly stunning and outstanding set in Bordeaux, the crowd knew they had just seen something very special.
Photo Credit: With special thanks to Tommy Atkin from THE LINCOLN STUDIO for use of the spectacular photo’s from the night. More photo’s plus additional pictures from the Marseille date can be found on the Facebook page, so do check them out: