Deep Purple and Blue Öyster Cult together. This meeting of rock behemoths in the UK would have been a bill that had audiences going crazy back in the seventies and eighties. In the 21st century, the faces on and off stage may have aged, but the appetite for this dream-come-true kind of pairing is as evident as ever. The grey-haired rockers are out in force, accompanied by some younger fans keen to see what all the fuss their mums and dads made was about.
Deep Purple – Blue Öyster Cult
The OVO Hydro, Glasgow – 22 October 2022
Words: Ian Sutherland
Photography: Ya Cheng
Blue Öyster Cult
Confusion reigned as the evening started with BÖC taking the stage fifteen minutes earlier than advertised and had people desperately stumbling around in the dark to find their spots in tonight’s all seated arrangement in Glasgow’s Hydro.
Meanwhile, on stage, the current lineup of the legendary band just ploughed through a setlist covering the decades with a genial smile and a relaxed attitude which belies the power of their music.
Swapping around lead singers and effortlessly morphing from two guitars to three or taking a spell on keyboards, this is a multi-talented outfit. This allows them to throw in the old school crowd pleasers like Golden Age Of Leather and Hot Rails To Hell but easily move to more considered mid-period tomes like Burnin’ For You.
It wasn’t a total nostalgia fest either, with songs aired from their latest album, The Symbol Remains, which just fitted neatly into the vibe they were creating.
Stand out song for me was a tremendous version of Then Came The Last Days Of May with the extended guitar workout raising huge cheers from the audience.
An inevitable (Don’t Fear) The Reaper ended an excellent set which, despite the early start, felt far too short.
The arena was full and had an air of expectation when Deep Purple entered the fray. The slow build-up in the Highway Star intro got everyone on their feet, and it wasn’t long before the first few lines were seemingly being sung by the whole room, as well as Ian Gillan.
The sound was almost perfect, each instrument able to be heard clearly and the song bubbling along on a rhythm section that doesn’t sound like it has aged at all.
Then it was time for that classic guitar solo spot, and Simon McBride stepped front and centre for the first time.
The Belfast boy’s surroundings have changed since I saw him playing a solo set to a few dozen people earlier in the year, but the skill set hasn’t changed. Perfectly capable of channelling the fire of Blackmore or the proficiency of Steve Morse but adding his own twists to it all, this showcase and his playing on the following Pictures Of Home settled that he was going to do his own thing.
In fact, it was noticeable that he wasn’t introduced. He was just up there playing with legendary musicians who obviously love what he brings to the party, and no further comment was necessary.
All these years on, the musicianship still shines through at a Purple show. The big screens let everyone get a good look at the virtuosity on display, from Don Airey’s twinkling fingers to Ian Paice throwing in some meaty fills.
Up front, Ian Gillan cuts a more frail figure these days but still dominates the stage, whether singing his heart out or during his whimsical interludes between tunes. It was a delight watching him during the instrumental passages, too, as he took an obvious amount of pleasure in what his compatriots were playing.
In fact, during one guitar/keyboard back and forth, all three other members were watching intently with big smiles on their faces, just like the thousands out in the hall.
Song wise the set list was a balanced affair of Gillan-related material with plenty of classics like Perfect Strangers, Lazy and Space Truckin’, a deeper dive with the sublime When A Blind Man Cries and some songs from more recent albums like No Need To Shout and Anya which they are justifiably proud of. Not just a legacy act here but a modern, living, breathing musical entity.
When McBride took centre stage and cranked out THAT riff, it seemed to have come around too quickly. Surely they’re not finishing now! There was a massive Smoke On The Water singalong, of course, but fortunately, a lengthy encore of Hush and Black Night followed, topping off a tremendous ninety-five-minute set.
Deep Purple may have had all the modern arena trappings of a big light show and impressive giant video screens. But underneath it all, they are still just a dynamic set of musicians, loving what they do and still able to impress with their virtuosity combined with their songwriting nous.
Never mind the ages. Feel the quality! A terrific double bill which lived up to all the expectations.
Deep Purple Setlist
- Highway Star
- Pictures of Home
- No Need to Shout
- Nothing at All
- Uncommon Man
- When a Blind Man Cries
- Keyboard Solo
- Perfect Strangers
- Space Truckin’
- Smoke on the Water
- Bass Solo
- Black Night
Blue Öyster Cult Setlist
- Stairway to the Stars
- That Was Me
- Burnin’ for You
- Golden Age of Leather
- Box in My Head
- Then Came the Last Days of May
- E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
- Hot Rails to Hell
- (Don’t Fear) The Reaper