Another show that was delayed a couple of times by the pandemic, Birmingham finally welcomed two bands that both started out in the 60’s and have seen numerous members come and go over the years. There has of course been an enforced change in the Deep Purple line-up somewhat recently with Simon McBride taking over from Steve Morse in what has seemingly been a smooth transition, the Irish guitarist being the natural choice having collaborated with both Ian Gillan and Don Airey in the past.
Blue Oyster Cult are marking the fiftieth anniversary of their debut album on this current tour and their hour long set proved they are still a force to be reckoned with. The riff driven ‘Transmaniacon MC’ was something of an understated opener and they followed it with ‘That Was Me’ from 2020’s The Symbol Remains, both of which saw Eric Bloom take the lead vocals. The show really moved up a gear when Buck Dharma stepped up and led the band into his signature song ‘Burnin’ For You’ which was a big MTV favourite back in the day.
Another new song, ‘Train True’, saw some wonderful guitar interplay between Buck and Richie Castellano, the latter getting his chance front and centre when he took over at the mic for an explosive ‘Hot Rails to Hell’. Going back to the debut album for ‘Then Came the Last Days of May’, this was arguably the highlight of the night as BOC built a dark layered psychedelic vibe around Buck’s sinister lyrics. Of course no BOC show would be complete without the two classic rock staples ‘Godzilla’ and ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’, both of which got a terrific response from the crowd and saw BOC depart to a well deserved standing ovation.
That Was Me
Burnin’ for You
Harvester of Eyes
Train True (Lennie’s Song)
E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
Hot Rails to Hell
Then Came the Last Days of May
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper
Deep Purple hit the ground running with ‘Highway Star’, Simon McBride making an immediate impression as he led the rest of the band into the familiar riff. Although it was noticeable that Ian Gillan appeared a little out of sorts for the opener he seemed much happier on ‘Pictures of Home’. A couple of songs from Whoosh, ‘No Need to Shout’ and ‘Nothing at All’ reminded us that this show was originally slated for 2020 on the back of the albums release. These two songs aside the only real surprise in the set list was the terrific ‘Anya’, a deep cut from The Battle Rages On that has been resurrected on this tour for the first time since the mid-90’s. And with around half the set taken from the Machine Head album it was good to hear them tackle something that was not immediately recognisible to the audience.
The extended work out of ‘Lazy’ saw McBride, Airey, Ian Paice and Roger Glover happily jamming away, allowing Gillan the chance for a breather before he returned to deliver an exquisite ‘When a Blind Man Cries’. Don Airey’s keyboard solo included snippets of ‘Match of the Day’ and ‘Iron Man’ before he led the rest of the band into a powerful ‘Perfect Strangers’. ‘Smoke on the Water’ closed out the main part of the set, providing the cue for much of the crowd to finally rise to their feet, before they returned to encore with ‘Hush’ and ‘Black Night’. A few years ago Deep Purple were trailing their shows as ‘The Long Goodbye’ but thankfully any talk of retirement has been put to rest at least for now. Along with openers Blue Oyster Cult when both bands do finally call it a day they will be sorely missed but will leave us with some wonderful memories.
Pictures of Home
No Need to Shout
Nothing at All
When a Blind Man Cries
Smoke on the Water