They All Came Down To Montreux
Ever ponder the origins of “Smoke On The Water”? Probably not, but there’s another DVD from Deep Purple offering all the answers you could ever want. Taken from the group’s 2006 appearance at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival, closing out its 40th Anniversary celebration, They All Came Down To Montreux captures the mighty Purps in relatively fine form. Throw in some interviews and a second disc with a 2006 show from the Hard Rock Café in London — and you have a frightfully comprehensive set from one of the greatest vintage rock bands in business.
Disc one opens as Ian Gillan croaks out the vocals on “Pictures At Home.” A great, lost-in-the-shuffle number from Machine Head, it’s a bit unsettling to watch the singer grasp for some of those out-of-reach notes, but the show’s pace and frenzy never let up. You have to credit Gillan with not hiding behind some pre-recorded harmonizing effects — you get what you hear, and for the most part the singer is on the mark. “Highway Star,” appearing later in the program, was the only other song he didn’t fully own.
“Hallelujah, holy mackerel,” Gillan intones during “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” and when you have a musicians like guitarist Steve Morse, keyboardist Don Airey, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice, it’s pointless to sweat the small stuff. Morse traverses the envelope during “The Well-Dressed Guitar,” generously dipping his cup into a hodgepodge of Celtic and baroque styles before digging heartily into chunks of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Voodoo Chile.” Airey continues to assert his role in the band, even sneaking in tastes of “Mr. Crowley,” the Ozzy Osbourne number the keyboardist originally played the spooky intro to, before jumping from classical to ragtime — all within a couple of measures.
“Smoke On The Water,” of course, was a special highlight at the festival. After a sprite jazz interlude, with the song’s famous chord progression touched upon at various turns, Morse plays it proper, and each and every audience is on his or her feet. Naturally, the song’s famous lyrics roll off every tongue within earshot. And with that, the band finishes their set.
Michael Bradford, who produced the group’s last two albums, Rapture Of The Deep and Bananas, and referred to on stage by Gillan as “Ritchie Moreblack,” joins the group, ax in hand, for an encore of “Hush.” Bradford and Morse exchange guitar licks and quizzical looks of admiration to the delight of those in attendance. The one-off “Too Much Fun” is an impromptu tribute to the festival’s 40th Anniversary and its founder, Claude Nobs, who gets in a few wails from his trusted harmonica. Gillan sounds amazingly vibrant here, but vocal accompaniment on "Black Night" does little to help him out. Thankfully, Glover's bass solo intro and Bradford and Morse' Allman Brothers flavored solos come to the rescue before bringing the show to its conclusion.
It’s easy to get caught up with the interviews that touch on everything from Montreux as inspiration for “Smoke On The Water” to Ian Gillan’s voice and Steve Morse’s wrist. But you might want to skip past that for the moment and check out the rising energy level flooding the second disc. Filmed within the intimate confines of the Hard Rock Café in London, the group explodes with “Fireball” and deliver a fiery night of Purpleness. The camera shots are tighter, there’s less stage clutter, and in general, it’s a completely different experience. “I’ve Got Your Number” and “Perfect Strangers” are two additional songs missing from the Montreux set, essentially giving the whole package a sort of noble completeness any fan would appreciate. There’s certainly nothing wrong with covering all your angles when it comes to a spectacular band like Deep Purple.
~ Shawn Perry