Deep Purple: Live In Montreux 2006

Deep Purple: Live In Montreux 2006 (2006)
Eagle Rock Entertainment
Cast: Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, Don Airey, Steve Morse
Extras: Interviews

Deep Purple is one of Britain's most enduring bands – aside from the Rolling Stones. Looking back on a career that spans over 40 years of craftsmanship and hits, the band has weathered the ups and downs it has gone through with grace and relentless determination.

Through the years Deep Purple has gone through an almost innumerable number of line-up changes, while somehow still retaining their trademark sound and writing. Members and former members of the band have become legends of rock music, spearheaded by none other than the band's most notorious and controversial member, Richie Blackmore. Repeatedly dropping in and out of the band Blackmore gave rise to more discussion about his ego than his guitar play on many occasions but also put a distinctive face on the band early on – that of a band that can easy withstand inner turmoil and is larger than ego trips. Names like Tommy Bolin, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord, Don Airey and Steve Morse or only some of the musicians that filled the shoes of band members that were previously considered irreplaceable, in the process making their own mark on the band's legacy.

Never disbanding, in 2006 Deep Purple played a show in Montreux featuring Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, Don Airey and Steve Morse. This line-up is not only the most contemporary but also one of the most refreshing and "authentic" ones, since the band's infamous "Mark II" line-up.

Firing up the show with "Picture Of Home" from their classic "Machine Head" album, the band immediately launches into a potpourri of what becomes an cool mix of old and new. Playing many tracks form their "Rapture Of The Deep" album as well as handfuls of classic tracks, the band sounds as tight as ever and with modern day production values, the mix is spectacularly clear and voluminous.

The mastery of their instruments and their material is obvious, when you see and hear Deep Purple in this show, but at the same time, so is the age. While the band sounds incredible, there is not much going on on stage. Pretty much glued to the floor, they all lack vitality and energy, which kind of contradicts the material they are playing. I always find it a bit weird when the prongs of fans are more animated than the band on stage, which is clearly the case here. That however, would be my only bad comment about the concert, because everything else simply rocks. Gillan's voice may be failing a little during "Highway Star's" highest passages, but I am not sure if he'd been able to fully capture the studio quality of his screams 30 years ago either. It is an incredibly challenging song and playing it toward the end of the set makes it even harder. Still, it is mesmerizing to hear the song unfold. It is followed up with an interesting jazz intro that seems oddly familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time. Using odd measures, it s a nice showpiece about the artistic abilities of the band members and their ever-lasting love affair with jazz influences. One bar at the time, the intro crystallizes out its main theme until every listener eventually recognizes what it is they are hearing. A riveting, off-beat introduction to the mother of all hard rock songs, "Smoke On The Water." And then it really launches. The G-minor progression if the track sounds every bit as aggressive as it did 35 years ago when the song first appeared. It has not aged a bit and immediately makes you want to bang your head and pull out that air guitar. Wonderfully performed, the track is the highlight of the show, making the ultimate point about what Deep Purple is and always has been. One of the world's defining rock bands.

As an extra the DVD also contains the band's concert from the "Hard Rock Café", featuring a slightly different track list, adding cool tracks such as "Fireball" and "Perfect Strangers" to the mix. Again it is a powerful show that pleases the ears.

The DVD serves up a wonderful image transfer of the show with good definition and strong colors that nicely reproduce the powerful stage lighting. Blacks are well balanced and give the image depth. Video noise is at a minimum making sure even the dark moments are reproduced nicely and that the backlit shots – of which there are many – are perfectly contrasted.

Audio wise, the DVD is also showing its best side. Offering up a DTS and a Dolby Digital track the release is sure to please everyone. With an incredibly wide frequency response, it manages to perfectly capture the sound of the live performance while the dynamic range of the tracks makes sure you always maintain that "live" feel. The mix of the performance is immaculate without even the slightest problems or imbalances. Modern technology has helped tremendously in creating live performances that come close to studio recordings in their overall quality, while always maintaining the incredible dynamics and detail of a live player, and here we have a prime example where it all comes together perfectly for an amazing show.

If there's one thing wrong with "Deep Purple: Live In Montreux 2006" it is that "Woman From Tokyo" was not on the set list – but, of course, that is just a personal preference of mine. Everything else is wonderfully coming together and to see these gentlemen rock the pants off my butt after 40 years of gigging and recording is simply amazing. I've never been a huge Deep Purple fan but I've always admired their ability to adapt, to persevere and to write music that is different from what everyone else was doing at the time. Even though I never considered myself a true fan of the band, I always understood implicitly that – and why – Deep Purple are the fathers of hard rock, and for that I tip my hat. Rock fans of all ages should take note of this release.