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They All Came Down to Montreux: Live at Montreux [DVD] [Import]
Almost 40 years after the band's original formation, Deep Purple is in fine form in They All Came Down to Montreux. The band's history is intimately connected with the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival (which also includes rock music), so it was only fitting that DP was invited to headline the closing night of the festival's 40th anniversary on July 15, 2006. On disc 1 of this two-disc set, DP's 100-minute Montreux gig is included in its entirety, and even those who prefer the band's earlier "Mark II" lineup (which included previous keyboardist John Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore) will agree that this band can still rock your socks off. By the time keyboardist Don Airey launches a playfully jazzy prologue to the band's biggest hit "Smoke on the Water" (a song inspired by a spectacular fire that occurred while the band was preparing to record Machine Head in Montreux in 1971), DP has the packed Montreux in an arm-waving state of hard-rock bliss.
While it's obvious that lead singer Ian Gillan's voice is not what it used to be (he's obviously struggling with the high notes in "Highway Star"), he still makes it through the set with his vocal cords intact, and he's got stellar support from Airey, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice, and guitarist Steve Morse (the latter joined DP in 1994), all delivering the kind of ace musicianship that can only come from years of diligent touring. Morse is especially strong in this concert, while Glover and Paice achieve a flawless symmetry of rhythm. And while this is essentially a "greatest hits" gig, the performance of tracks from DP's 2005 release Rapture of the Deep suggests that this band could be going strong for years to come, if fans don't mind the occasional misstep and a stage full of aging rockers with expanding waistlines. As a bonus feature, 25 minutes of band interviews are also included. Disc 2 features an hour-long gig from London's Hard Rock Caf�, recorded earlier in 2006. With the exception of two tracks ("I Got Your Number" and "Fireball"), it's a shorter version of the Montreux set-list, more intimate in its club setting, but equally indicative of Deep Purple's impressive longevity. --Jeff Shannon
The show is a standard set list from the era, with notable variations for the festival: I particularly enjoyed the jazz introduction to "Smoke on the Water" and Gillan's introduction ("it was written just down the road....") Standouts were the very extended Morse demo "The Well-Dressed Guitar" which is off the charts here, and the rousing version of "Hush," which is always a crowd pleaser. The Montreux performance features some special guests including famed founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival Claude Nobs, who was, of course, immortalized for his heroics as "Funky Claude" in "Smoke on the Water." You will enjoy his harmonica and duet with Gillian on "Too Much Fun" (during which they both have to read the lyrics off a sheet of paper.)
The bottom line is that the Montreux gig was a beautifully shot though occasionally flawed performance. The rhythm powerhouse combo of Paice and Glover were spot on, and Steve Morse was simply outstanding. Airey was very good as well, and Gillan was an old pro who worked the audience with humor, and made them appreciate him in spite of the difficulty of living up to the legend of his own voice from forty years ago.
The second DVD has an abbreviated set recorded in London's "Hard Rock Cafe," a decidedly cramped venue, which begets a more intimate and slower show than normal. It has terrible acoustics and while it might appeal to people who always wanted to see Deep Purple in a nightclub, the constraints of the small room and bad sound quality didn't help me to enjoy the show. While I am normally a huge Steve Morse fan, I was particularly unimpressed with his work during this gig, and especially his solo on "Smoke on the Water."
After watching the concerts, I was honestly divided about how to rate this set, but for me the lengthy interviews in the extras took it over the top. These extras are divided into general subjects, and everyone gets a chance to speak. "The Story of 'Smoke on the Water'" interviews both Ians and Roger Glover about the casino fire and its aftermath. Roger explains how exactly they ended up at the Grand Hotel after being kicked out of the Pavilion; he goes on to detail how he thought up the song title and he and Ian came up with the rock classic very quickly. It's not groundbreaking for people who know the story, but it's compellingly told and fun to watch. There is a great segment on improvisation where all five are interviewed. If you have seen or heard multiple performances from these guys you know each is a bit different, which accounts for much of their charm I think. I enjoyed them discussing getting backed into a musical corner: Ian Paice says "We call them horse's eyes" because their eyes get really big on stage as they look at each other and think "OK, what happens now?"
There are several other segments that highlight relative newcomers Don Airey and Steve Morse: I particularly appreciated how Gillan spent so much time explaining how Morse reinvigorated the band and really helped it survive the tremendous upheaval after Blackmore's departure when Blackmore "walked out in the middle of a tour and left us high and dry." Besides that, Morse is an amazing guitarist and seems to be an all-around nice guy. There are also segments on Montreux and the Montreux Jazz Festival that are interesting, a segment called "Ian Gillan's Voice," and "Steve Morse's Wrist" where he discusses breaking his wrist and playing with a cast on. (Though it's not covered here, he also ground down part of the back of his guitar to accommodate the cast.) It was quite agonizing to perform that way, but these guys just love to play.
While there are other Deep Purple performances I prefer to these two shows, they are still worth watching (especially the Montreux performance) and the overall package is a delight. I recommend it to any fan.
Now I must say, I held back on buying this one. Well I held off on Perihelion too, but I just had to get Jon Lord's last performance on DVD. Now, he is gone? Another loss like Blackmore? OK, I bit and ordered "They All Came Down to Montreux". Don Airey is one hell of a keyboard player, maybe not up to Lord's standard, but who is? Ian Gillan is getting a little long-on-the-tooth, but the old fart can still carry a tune pretty dang good. Hey, these guy's are about my age, so I grew up with DP - got "Hush" on a 45. Speaking of "Hush". They did the BEST "Hush" version on this DVD I've heard.
It's taking them a little longer to warm up these days, but by the time they get to "When A Blind Man Cries" the groove sets in. The two guest stars they brought in towards the end of the set were awesome.
The bonus DVD, well another hour of DP live. I can't argue with that. So, what your getting is about (3) hours of DP in concert in total. Sweet.
The quality is outstanding. I didn't get the HD-DVD version, but the standard DVD is pretty close to HD standards. really!
If you like DP, they got a bunch of great DVD's for sale. They are getting on with age so if that's a problem for you, buy some of their earlier stuff first. Then when you still want that DP fix, get this one too. Add it to your collection, you will play it many times over in the future.
Low enough to annoy this listner...who ever was on the mixing board messed up a quality show.
We should'nt have to strain our ears to here those keys !
The keys in Purple are necessary & needed.
still 5 stars though