By: Erik Lawless
LYNN — There were few empty seats last Friday night at Lynn Auditorium, as hard-rock quintet Deep Purple performed a loud, nearly two-hour concert.
Despite being founded nearly 47 years ago, Deep Purple didn’t lack energy as its members successfully delighted the crowd, with their well-known songs and exciting, thematic solos.
Latecomers were soon greeted by a pitch-black auditorium and a Star Wars-like orchestral track booming through the speakers. As the track ended, the lights shot on in unison with the band playing the first note of its classic “Highway Star.”
The spectacle and high-energizing song, which contained exciting solos from Purple’s keyboardist Don Airey and guitarist Steve Morse, proved to be an appropriate opener. The crowd shot into a frenzy and tossed a beach ball aisle to aisle.
Vocalist Ian Gillan added a fun and humorous dynamic to the night by showing off his improvisational skills at the end of bluesy staple song “Strange Kind of Woman.”
Gillan used his diverse vocal ability to scat, while Morse played his multi-pitched phrases.
Morse playfully assured the crowd “…that was the end of the jazz part of the show and will…do some morbid folk music for the next half an hour.”
He didn’t lie, as a skull appeared on the backdrop, and Deep Purple proceeded to play its dark-crunchy guitar driven song “Vincent Price” from their newest album, “Now What?!”
Though the song’s performance was aesthetically pleasing, it, “Uncommon Man” and other songs played from the album didn’t seem to receive the same level of responsiveness.
However, drummer Ian Paice soon brought the masses back to 1972’s “Made in Japan” album with an extensive solo in the drum-heavy “The Mule.” Suddenly, the lights went out in the auditorium and Paice’s rumbling solo reverberated through the audience.
Through the darkness, Paice continued soloing in Blue Man-esque fashion: The swirling of the red and blue tips of his sticks, along with dancing multi-colored lights, were all that were visible on stage — a scene that received overwhelming applause.
Airey provided one of the most impressive musical experiences of the night, a few songs later, when he played a thematic keyboard solo, which delved into classical music and quoted songs such as “America the Beautiful,” and used spacey sound effects to introduce another classic — their haunting organ-driven “Perfect Strangers.”
The most electrifying part of the night came shortly after, when the band performed “Smoke on the Water” and other classics. The song’s iconic guitar riff drove most of the crowd — young and old — from their seats, pumping their fists, shouting and singing along for the remainder of the night.
Following the song was the obligatory encore. Returning to the stage just seconds later, bassist Roger Glover and Paice provided an educational experience during Purple’s arrangement of Joe South’s “Hush.”
The longtime rhythm section gave a lesson in creating an exciting solo simply. It brilliantly locked in with each other, created musical tension and engaged the crowd by encouraging them to yell out “Heys!” in unison.
The solo morphed into Purple’s suitable closing number — a definitive Purple song — “Black Knight.”
The upbeat song contained wild solos, which quoted songs such as “Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way” and encouraged the audience into call and response.
The performance saw the audience and Purple expressing the same feelings for each other: The band was tossed a bouquet of flowers and received a standing ovation.
“Fantastic…we love you, take it easy…!” Gillian said.