By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
Steppenwolf was the band who famously coined the phrase “heavy metal” on their iconic tune, “Born to Be Wild.” When it comes to who was truly the first hard rock/heavy metal band, I personally believe that group to be England’s own Deep Purple. Along with bands like Led Zeppelin, the Who, and Black Sabbath, Deep Purple helped pioneer the heavy sound we all love to hear. In 1973, they changed rock ‘n’ roll forever with the one that probably has one of the most iconic riffs today, “Smoke on the Water.” They have gone through multiple line-up changes over the years (Marks I, II, III, and IV), and they feel they have accomplished all they needed to accomplish in music, including being inducted in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame after many years of being ignored. Dubbed The Long Goodbye Tour, Deep Purple has embarked on their supposed final journey around the world, where they bringing the hungry OC hard rock soldiers Joyous Wolf with them. Rabit and I were invited to see them at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside on September 3rd, so obviously we could not passing that up.
First up was Joyous Wolf, who has been enjoying the success they have been receiving from almost non-stop touring and releasing their debut EP, Place in Time. As soon as frontman Nick Reese stepped onto the stage wearing a white suit and pants with no shirt, he went full blown James Brown with his dance moves when the first chord to “Undesired” was played. Reese was vibrant the whole time, wowing the older crowd with his funky moves and high pitched raw voice. It is always a blast watching him get up off his feet and dance. Guitarist Blake Allard was a wailing machine, giving the fans a deep 1970s riffs that is full of energy. If you were looking for the next guitar hero, this man is one of them. Bassist Greg Braccio and drummer Robert Sodaro do an excellent job giving each a jolt on the beats, particularly Braccio with bass riffs that has a classic rock edge. Throughout their 30 minute set, Joyous Wolf howled to the moon with rock splendor with their hit songs like “Place in Time,” “Had Enough,” “Said Too Much,” and “Mother Rebel.” On the song of their set, “Quiet Heart,” Reese jumped off the stage and ran across both aisles downstairs, getting people to stand up. It was a successful night for Joyous Wolf, especially getting the older fans to participate. Deep Purple was right to bring these guys along for their supposed last ride.
Full Joyous Wolf gallery below:
After taking a few minutes to collect ourselves, Gustav Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War” surrounds the venue. Then, Deep Purple walks out and turns the engines on by giving us the classic “Highway Star.” Frontman Ian Gillian can still pack a huge punch with his laid back but heavy singing style. It is apparent that like the rest of the group, age has slowed down his stage presence, but it is his voice that does the magic. Guitarist Steve Morse, who has been the group’s axe man longer than the great Richie Blackmore, wailed and riffed the classic chords that has made Deep Purple a household name when it comes to guitar riffs. I really enjoyed the solo battles between Morse and keyboardist Don Airey, each one trying to outdo each other. Airey is a wizard on the ivories, crushing it on his major solo spot. I am glad he was one who replaced the late great John Lord when he retired from the group in 2002. Bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Pierce, who is the only member to be with the band since the very beginning, were masterfully on the rhythms and beats that gave the songs its classic pulse. Deep Purple an array of their classic hits as well as some of their newer stuff that I think is not all bad. From “Pictures of Home” to “Bloodsucker,” “Demon’s Eye,” “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming,” “Uncommon Man,” “Lazy,” and “Time For Bedlam,” the fans were rocking their heads off. When they into their biggest hits, that is when the party truly got started, beginning with “Perfect Strangers.” Next thing you know, I am hearing 2 of their biggest hits that came off of 1973’s Machine Head, “Space Truckin’” and the classic “Smoke on the Water.” Just hearing that classic riff gave me goosebumps, especially when we were singing the chorus, “Smoke on the water / Fire in the sky.” Usually this is where the encore kicks in, but Deep Purple was having so much fun that they just kept going. They played one of the best cover songs ever recorded, Joe South’s “Hush.” I was entranced by the psychedelic beats they into the song, making it one of my favorites. They ended the night with the last of their best hits, “Black Night.”
Full Deep Purple gallery below:
Rabit and I walked out of the venue feeling happy that finally got see Deep Purple, the group that helped start it all for us metalheads. Rabit also walked away with one of Glover’s bass picks, the lucky bastard. Where Deep Purple’s journey is coming to a close, Joyous Wolf’s saga is just beginning. Both groups gave their all and rocked Riverside right to its core. To Deep Purple and Joyous Wolf, I salute you. Horns up, and let’s go space truckin’. Come on!