Berlin 1973 (Darker Than Blue 066/067)
Sportpalast, Berlin, Germany – January 16, 1973
Disc 1: (47:09) Highway Star, Smoke On The Water, Strange Kind Of Woman, Mary Long, Lazy, Drum Solo
Disc 2: (38:20) Space Truckin’, Black Night, Lucille
Berlin 1973 from Darker Than Blue presents a good sounding slightly distant audience source recorded at the start of Deep Purple’s European tour in support of Who Do We Think We Are. This is the first show after a one month break and coincides with the release of the LP in the US but the album wouldn’t come out in Europe until February. The tape first surfaced in 2001 and was previously released as Purple Blitz on the Demon’s Eye label. One fan site describes this as “surprisingly good quality, slightly overloaded and powerful sound.” It is a bit overloaded on the low end but the upper frequencies are clear allowing guitar, keys, and vocals to cut through but the low end lacks some definition. It does seem to improve slightly after the first track and luckily crowd noise isn’t a factor.
“Highway Star” starts with the classic Made In Japan style build up and both Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore shine in the solos. Ian gives the usual Montreux story introduction before “Smoke On The Water” and Ritchie noodles around for a bit before starting the song. The quality improves some and by the solo is very clear and better balanced. Blackmore features some awesome guitar work in “Strange Kind Of Woman” which contains very friendly guitar/vocal interplay in the breakdown despite the two being at odds off stage. “Mary Long” is the only track from the Who Do We Think We Are LP featured in the set and would be dropped and replaced with “Child In Time” before the end of the tour. This track was very effective live and it’s a shame more new songs weren’t included in the set. The intro for “Lazy” is pushed to the limit and is almost seven minutes before the vocal even enters. There is a harmonica solo played by Gillan and eventually the song breaks down into Ian Paice’s drum solo. After the drum solo the band concludes the track with a few minutes of “The Mule”.
Disc two starts with a twenty plus minute version of “Space Truckin”. About seven minutes in it switches over to the “Mandrake Root” jam in the same arrangement they used for the 72 tours. A great night gets even better during the encore section. Blackmore again is burning things up during “Black Night” and they finish off with a fired up version of Little Richard’s “Lucille”. A great performance for the start of the European Tour but sadly this line up would split later in the year.
Anything from the Mark II line up is worth investigating and Berlin 1973 will stand up to repeated listening and is another great edition to the Darker Than Blue catalog. It is packaged in a slimline jewel case with excellent looking artwork and is recommended to more than just the Purple completeists.