Purple Fudge

How's this for a double bill - Vanilla Fudge and Deep Purple at Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday night (8/7). Or, to be more specific, the original Vanilla Fudge and Deep Purple Mark 8. Either way, it was a must-do event. Local Long Island boys done good, the Fudge totally rode the Wayback Machine during their hour-long set, rightly namechecking late NYC radio legends like Scott Muni and Alison Steele along the way. Thud and thunder kept this set rooted in the halcyon days of 1967 and '68, but I didn't mind. Bassist Tim Bogert piledrove the low end, whirlwind drummer Carmine Appice took a sweet vocal turn on Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," guitarist Vince Martell tore it up on "Season of the Witch," and keyboardist/vocalist Mark Stein worked that Hammond organ of his all night long. Bogert intro'ed the mythic set closer "You Keep Me Hangin' On" as "the one that bought the house," and then they brought the house down. A total of-era hour of music 40 years gone, but I was entranced.

And then there was Purple.

Considering these guys are a decade older than the Police, they showed an energy level Sting and the boys could take a few cues from. Their setlist hasn't varied much since they started the Rapture of the Deep tour back in '05, but since this was my first time ever seeing them live (hard to believe, but true), it was all (wavy) gravy for me.

This was the kind of show where the guys stood and their ladies sat. Vocalist Ian Gillan - a friend of S&V and a major surround sound proponent - was relaxed in jeans and a colorful striped shirt, and he still hit all the right notes at the right times. Guitarist Steve Morse (has the man ever been seen wearing a shirt with sleeves on it?), who replaced Ritchie Blackmore 13 years ago, time and again showed why he's a legend in guitar circles. As far back as we were in the mid-central orchestra zone (hence the lack of quality of my cellphone pix), we could see the constant grin on his face. Gillan often used Morse as a foil, leaning on his shoulder, whispering in his ear, and cajoling the crowd to cheer while behind him. Original drummer Ian Paice and orig bassist Roger Glover kept the groove locked, and keyboardist Don Airey (who replaced Jon Lord a few years back) was a wizard who tossed in a few good chordal nods to "New York, New York" during his solo turn.

Highlights? All the classic Machine Head stuff, of course ("Highway Star," "Lazy," "Space Truckin'," and the ever-ubiquitous "Smoke on the Water"), as well as "Perfect Strangers," "Knocking at Your Back Door," "Woman from Tokyo" and "Strange Kind of Woman." Show closer "Hush" was the cherry on top. Ah, Purple Fudge: Yum yum!! -Mike Mettler