DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
Deep Purple Live At Montreux, Blu-ray (2008)
Published on February 22, 2008
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Video: 1.78:1 widescreen
Audio: DTS-HD 5.1, English DD-Plus 5.1, English LPCM Stereo
Extras: 2005 Hard Rock Café Concert; Interviews
Length: 186 minutes
Deep Purple has to be one of the longest surviving bands in the annals of rock; despite constant reincarnations of the band due to frequent lineup changes, they’ve managed to pump out eighteen studio and several live albums since forming in 1968. This latest version of the group features a core consisting of Ian Gillian (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Ian Paice (drums), and Steve Morse (guitars) that’s been together almost ten years. Gillian, Glover and Paice’s tenure dates back to the classic album Deep Purple In Rock, while recent addition Don Airey (keyboards) just replaced Jon Lord, another original member of the group. Remarkably enough, Steve Morse has now played more live shows with the band than original guitarist Richie Blackmore! Blackmore’s opening guitar riff on the classic Smoke On The Water, which documents the circumstances surrounding the making of the band’s biggest selling record, Machine Head (also recorded at Montreux), probably represents the first three chords any aspiring electric guitarist played over the next couple of decades. I’ve never really listened to any of the studio recordings by the band since the late seventies, but I loved Steve Morse’s amazing work with the Dixie Dregs from about the same time period. I was pleasantly surprised to get this disc, and was really looking forward to a Montreux-inspired trip down memory lane.
A colleague pretty much summed the performance up: “They almost sound more like a Deep Purple cover band than the real thing!” Unfortunately, I had to agree; while there were certainly bright spots – among them the rock-solid rhythm section work of Paice and Glover and Ian Gillian’s trademark soaring vocals – I often found that many of the songs barely resembled their studio counterparts. Steve Morse’s highly anticipated guitar work struck me as just plain sloppy, and Jon Lord’s always-excellent keyboard work was definitely missed. I fully realize that twenty-plus years is a lot of time for reflection on a band’s current take on classic older tunes, but you’d think the songs would at least in concept resemble the originals. A greatest hits live package this ain’t – at least, it might not be the greatest hits you remember.
In terms of sound and image quality, this disc is about on par with most HD concert presentations I’ve seen. The recent Queen Blu-ray disc I reviewed here was given a sort of “concert for the ages” treatment from the get-go, and every aspect of its visual and audio content absolutely sparkled. That can’t be said for this disc; while the audio and video content are indeed serviceable, they’re just not in the same league as that excellent Queen disc. If you’re a longtime fan of the band, and have followed them through all stages of their career, this disc will be indispensable. Otherwise, it’s probably just a rental. [If you can find it – most rental outlets ignore the many music DVDs now available…Ed.]
— Tom Gibbs