FEBRUARY 26th 2012

Review & Photos By: Peter Ruttan

Ask any beginner or pro guitarist whos plug a guitar into an amp what was there first riff they learned to play and more than likely the answer would be “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple. Deep Purple are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their rock/guitar riff anthem classic, “Smoke On The Water,” as the veteran U.K. band were currently in the middle of 17-city cross-Canada tour called Smoke On The Nation Tour, which ended in Vancouver BC at the Queen Elizabeth Theater. In a nutshell Deep Purple are a solid rock'n'roll band, with a heavier bottom, done at blazing riff speeds, with awesomely entertaining drum and keyboard solos, with a singer that could scream and hit high notes in tune.

Deep Purple has three original members from the Classic Machine Head Album from 1972. Lead singer Ian Gillan, drummer Ian Paice and bassist Roger Glover along with ex-Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse and ex-Rainbow/Ozzy keyboardist Don Airey.

It’s 8:30 pm, the theater is packed and the lights hit as frontman Ian Gillian sporting a walking cast on his right leg had started the night with the power hit classic “Highway Star.” Gillian’s power and range grew stronger as the night progressed singing hits like “Space Truckin,” “Woman from Tokyo,” and “Perfect Strangers.” Both Roger Glover and Ian Paice have been so consistent over the years that their performances were again simply brilliant as they played to the crowd. Steve Morse who served up a few bars of his self-penned 2003 Bananas track “Contact Lost,” before segueing into the vastly extended, solo laden 1972 B-side cut “When a Blind Man Cries,” followed by another Morse penned track “Well Dressed Guitar.” I’ve been a fan of Don Airey's keyboard performance since the early days he played with Ozzy as he attacked the keys by playing a few bars of “O Canada,”which made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Both Airey and Morse showed why they belong as members of Deep Purple... The Mach 2 era. The band’s sound still emits plenty of groove and power and ample fire and skill in the instrumental work and for the age of these hard rockers they're not slowing down anytime soon as they're working on new material for a new studio album!

Deep Purple's music is timeless and transcends many different genres and eras. The QE crowd ranged from the ages of 7 to 70 with dancing in the isles and sing alongs to "Fireball" and "Smoke on the Water." I’ve been to plenty of concerts in my time although I had never had the opportunity to see Deep Purple this would be one night that I’ll soon not forget. My hats off to the entire band whom seem ageless belting out classic hit after classic hit.