Another repackaging for a couple of Purple’s gigs recorded as the Mark II version supported The Battle Rages On for their 25th anniversary. Spread across four discs, we have Live at the Schleyer Halle (Stuttgart, October 16, 1993) and Live at the NEC (Brum, November 9, 1993), and it really is a case of swinging from the sublime to the faintly ridiculous.
Despite the legendary levels of tension between Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore, the Stuttgart gig is one of the best in Purple’s catalogue, the 12-minutes-plus version of Anya and full-blown In The Hall Of The Mountain King indicative of the band’s willingness to extend and innovate on stage. Even Blackmore sounds like he’s having fun; unlike the Birmingham show, which kicks off with the infamous soaking of a cameraman episode, when Blackmore took exception to the live filming set up. As a result, Highway Star starts as a largely guitar-less mess, and the playing and set-list are somewhat concise and perfunctory.
Sloppy packaging aside – this box set claims the shows to be from MCMXCII on the front rather than MCMXCIII, which appears on the back – this is an easy opportunity to sample Purple at their best – and worst.