Deep Purple sell out for Regent show

WITH he reputation as being the loudest rock band in the world, Deep Purple are bound to raise the roof when they play their sell-out gig at the Ipswich Regent on March 2.

WITH he reputation as being the loudest rock band in the world, Deep Purple are bound to raise the roof when they play their sell-out gig at the Ipswich Regent on March 2. PAUL GEATER has been speaking to bassist Roger Glover about the band – and why it still enjoys touring after 30 years in the spotlight.

FOR a generation of teenagers in the 1970s, Deep Purple were much more than one of the original heavy rock bands.

Quite simply, they provided the soundtrack for millions of people who sneered at the commercial acts in the singles charts and wanted something more substantial – and noisier – to play their air guitar along with!

But like all the best 1970s rock and roll supergroups, they soon split, came back with new members, and frankly weren't quite the same again.

The "Classic" Deep Purple line-up, the one responsible for their biggest hits like Black Knight, Highway Star and – of course – Smoke on the Water, only lasted from 1969 to 1973, first time around that is.

After splitting, reforming under different guises, and working in several different bands the "famous five" of Ian Gillan, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Richie Blackmore reformed in 1984 and worked together again – off and on – for the next five years.

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But there were always pressures within the band – especially between its two most high-profile members Blackmore and Gillan.

Eventually Gillan was sacked, concentrated on other projects for a couple of years, and was eventually brought back for a 25th anniversary special.

A tour by this line-up attracted huge audiences, but the tension backstage grew progressively worse. Eventually Blackmore stormed out.

But the band didn't fold, it looked for new blood.

Since August 1994 its lead guitarist has been Steve Morse – and the line-up now is more harmonious than ever.

Roger Glover is one of the original members of the "famous five," and although he spent 11 years on different projects in the late 70s and early 80s, he's been at the heart of the reformed Deep Purple for the last 18 years.

Deep Purple is a band that can fill stadia and major arenas like Earls Court, but it is currently on a tour of medium-sized venues across the country, like the Ipswich Regent.

"We like playing both the large stadia and smaller venues that we're visiting on this tour.

"In the larger shows there is an incredible atmosphere, but in places like the Regent we can get nearer the audience and get a buzz from that," Roger Glover said.

The band still enjoys touring, and Roger said that every performance was very different – he warned fans not to expect a simple repeat of the band's album tracks.

"We are musicians who like jamming on the stage. We will be playing some old favourites as well as a lot of more recent work – but we develop them and improvise, every performance is a one off," he said.

"In our early days we would try out new tracks live to audiences before we recorded them – that's something we're returning to in this tour."

Roger said the current line-up of the band felt more comfortable than for many years.

"There was a time in the early 1990s when there was tension in the band and we all thought 'is it worth all this hassle?'

"We were very close to splitting for good – but since Steve came on board things have been much better.

"We're a band who all like making music together, who are all pulling in the same direction," he said.

Lead singer Ian Gillan has close connections with Ipswich – he is a good friend of Town legend Paul Mariner and when he brought his band to the Gaumont in the 1970s the then Town team joined him on stage.

For a time he was known for his rock and roll lifestyle – but Roger was quick to point out that the band is not as well known as some others for its excesses.

"I don't think I've ever been a hell-raiser, lead singers are a bit of a different breed," he joked.

One thing that clearly does rankle with the band is the lack of exposure they receive from mainstream television and radio – even though they are genuine musical legends.

"Of all the places that we tour, we probably have the lowest profile in the UK and America, which is a bit ironic really," he said.

"But that's what we're hoping to address in this tour – we know we still have a lot of fans out there," Roger added.