Deep Purple With Orchestra – Live At Montreux 2011
Performers: Ian Gillan – vocals; Ian Paice – drums; Roger Glover – bass guitar; Steve Morse = guitar; Don Airey – keyboards; with special guest Stephen “BK” Bentlet-Klein – violin, orchestra conductor
TrackList: Deep Purple Overture/Highway Star; Hard Lovin’ Man; Maybe I’m A Leo; Strange Kind Of Woman; Rapture Of The Deep; Woman From Tokyo; Contact Lost; When A Blind Man Cries; The Well Dressed Guitar; Knocking At Your Back Door; Lazy; No One Came; Don Airey Solo; Perfect Strangers; Space Truckin’; Smoke On The Water; Hush; Black Night
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment (11/8/2011)
Video: 1.78:1 for 16×9 1080i HD
Audio: English PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Master Audio
Extra: Interviews With Deep Purple
Length: 166 minutes
Ratings: Overall ***½ Audio Rating: **** Video Rating: **1/2
Deep Purple were early pioneers of what turned out to be heavy metal. Their first hit, “Hush” had wicked guitar and organ riffs, with a decidedly psychedelic feel. They hit the big time with “Smoke On The Water”. Anyone who has ever played or tried to play electric guitar, knows the intro notes to this number. The group maintained a cult following for years and had numerous personnel changes. Eagle Rock has now issued a Blu-ray live performance with an orchestra at the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival. The band has been associated with this festival since the early seventies. Also, their work has been covered by orchestra.
Deep Purple With Orchestra Live At Montreux 2011 merges the bombast of heavy rock and augmented orchestration with mixed results. The instrumental shading by the Neue Philharmonic is fragmented. (In contrast, Procol Harum Live With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is interactive with the band.) The set opens with an overture with some jazzy flair that leads into “Highway Star”. The band is strong, but the vocals lack the “screaming” power that this genre demands. On songs like the straight blues rocker, “Strange Kind Of Woman” things come together, but their biggest hit “Smoke On The Water” is not as compelling. Instrumentals like “The Well Dressed Guitar” (with ear-splitting distorted guitar) sound great with the orchestral accents. Another piece “Space Truckin’” sets the band in motion with a rollicking rock/jazz groove. With each track, there are varying degrees of effectiveness.
While the classic DP hits have mixed results, keyboardist Don Airey has several brilliant moments. At the top of this list is his “Don Airey Solo”. Starting with some hot licks on church organ and synthesizer, the orchestra strings interject with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Airey then joins on piano with a boogie-woogie segue and a little Mozart. He also opens “Hush” with the organ lead from Booker T. Jones’ “Green Onions”. This is probably the best rendition of a classic Deep Purple Hit.
A bonus feature of interviews with band members details the thought processes regarding the use of the orchestra. It was intended to be jazzy, not symphonic. The audio portion of this disk is excellent, especially the DTS HD Master Audio surround. The clarity and separation of band and orchestra is impressive. The video is not as proficient. There are numerous shots that seem to be indistinct. When the camera pans the audience with a spotlight, the brightness is overwhelming. Deep Purple fanatics will undoubtedly enjoy this concert. For others, it will be hit or miss.
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.