Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Concert review: Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Edgar Winter Group

Roger Glover, left, with Steve Morse during the early part of Deep Purple's
set at the Greek Theatre on Aug. 13, 2017. Photo: Kelly A. Swift

Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Edgar Winter Group
Where: The Greek Theatre
When: Sunday, Aug. 13

Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan, left, with
guitarist Steve Morse. Photo: Kelly A. Swift
Three distinct brands of classic rock were on display at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night (Aug. 13, 2017). American blues rocker Edgar Winter, shock rocker Alice Cooper and British heavy metal pioneers Deep Purple all came to the venue armed with their biggest hits delivered via crowd-pleasing, fast-moving sets.

As part of its so-called "Long Goodbye Tour," Deep Purple headlined the long night of music making, displaying the virtuoso musicianship and an infectious stew of heavy metal, hard rock and progressive rock that has been winning over audiences since the late 1960s and earned the troupe a well-deserved spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. With long-time singer Ian Gillan and founding member/drummer Ian Paice leading the way, the long-time lineup that also features lead guitarist Steve Morse, keyboardist Don Airey and bassist Roger Glover opened with a propulsive "Highway Star" and proceeded to thrill over the course of 70 minutes.

Drummer Ian Paice in action. Photo: Kelly A. Swift
Deep Purple also stretched beyond its landmark rock radio staples to explore deeper cuts, including the racing rocker "Fireball," and several tracks off the band's recent new studio disc "Infinite." The probing "The Surprising" and encore-launching "Time For Bedlam" showcased a band still looking to extend their legacy; "Time For Bedlam" was particularly stirring with the mix of spoken word and dynamic musicianship.
Deep Purple pleased nostalgia lovers with its best known hits (notably "Space Truckin'," "Strange Kind of Woman," "Perfect Strangers," "Smoke On The Water" and night-ending "Hush").

Guitarist Nita Strauss, left, with Alice Cooper.
Photo: Kelly A. Swift
Like Deep Purple, Alice Cooper came to the show in the wake of a highly-publicized new album ("Paranormal") and showcased several of those songs (including "Paranoiac Personality," a showcase for shredding guitarist Nita Strauss). But more than his biggest sing-along songs or newer material, Cooper pleased with a colorful stage show filled with baby dolls, a guillotine, baby dolls and macabre costumed actors who interacted with Cooper and his musicians. The hard-edged '80s metal rock attack anchored by three lead guitar players and Cooper's own dramatic vocals was simply icing on the cake.

"Feed My Frankenstein" performance at the Greek
Theatre on Aug. 13, 2017. Photo: Robert Kinsler
When "Feed My Frankenstein" was performed, Cooper emerged from a colorful box on the stage with his white coat stained with fake blood; a large costumed monster prowled about the stage. If there was a time when this style of shock and awe ghoulish rock was dangerous, that time has come and gone; Cooper's show was actually about escape and having fun. By the time he got near the end of his 70-minute performance, the crowd was on its feet and singing along to "I'm Eighteen" and his encore "School's Out." 

The Edgar Winter Group's set was a solid mix of hits and several heartfelt tributes to Winter's older brother (Johnny Winter died in July 2014 at the age of 70).
Edgar Winter at the Greek Theatre.
Photo: Kelly A. Swift

Opening with his own 1973 hit "Free Ride," the impressive set included the boogie rocker "Keep Playin' That Rock N' Roll," an extended and jam-heavy "Tobacco Road," a rollicking cover of the Johnny Winter hit "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" and set-ending instrumental "Frankenstein" where Edgar Winter showcased his skills on not only keyboards, but playing saxophone and a percussion kit next to his drummer.

Review by Robert Kinsler

A shorter of this review was originally published on The Orange County Register website on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. You can view that and many more of Kelly A. Swift's fantastic images here.

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