Running Bear (Tarantura TCDDP-5-1, 2)
Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, IL – May 1st, 1987
Disc 1 (54:29): Highway Star (fade in), Strange Kind Of Woman, Unwritten Law, Drum Solo, Unwritten Law, Allright Now, Dead Or Alive, Perfect Strangers, Hard Lovin’ Woman, Bad Attitude, Child In Time
Disc 2 (53:29): Difficult To Cure, Keyboard Solo, Knocking At Your Back Door, Lazy, Space Truckin’, Woman From Tokyo (encore), Black Night / Old Songs Jam (includes Running Bear) (encore)
Running Bear from Tarantura documents Deep Purple’s Chicago performance during The House Of Blue Light US Tour. It comes from a very good sounding audience source with some traces of compression. The mix of instruments is fairly good with the bass guitar lacking some clarity. Some occasional nearby crowd noise is picked up. It’s not too bad but is definitely noticeable. The band however is in fine form, sounding nearly as good as they did 15 years earlier. Amazing, this lineup seemed to reunite after so long without missing a beat.
“Highway Star” fades in at the very start missing only the first few seconds. This serves as a great energetic opener with lightning fast solos from both Lord and Blackmore. Their ability to floor an audience within the first two minutes of the show is remarkable. During Gillan and Blackmore’s guitar/vocal duel in “Strange Kind Of Woman” Gillan leads the band into an impromptu “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Their interplay isn’t as long or elaborate as it had been in the early days but is still effective.
“The Unwritten Law”, the first of the new tracks played tonight, houses a perfect two minute Ian Paice drum solo. Paice keeps it short and sweet showing exactly what he can do without dragging out a lengthy solo. They continue with another new track, “Dead Or Alive”. Ritchie plays the opening riffs to Free’s “All Right Now” before starting the tune. Lots of shredding from Blackmore and Lord in this one as well.
“Perfect Strangers” is introduced by Gillan as “one of the first things we did after being apart for so many years”. It’s a great version of the track but unfortunately the recording becomes muffled at around the five minute mark with some brief nearby talking clearly heard. The sound clears up about two minutes into “Hard Loving Woman” and remains.
“Bad Attitude” has a small cut at the start. This is one of two singles released from the new record and would reach #14 on the Billboard Chart. Blackmore plays a nice melodic slide solo here but the track wouldn’t last beyond this tour. Aside from the massive success of Perfect Strangers, Jon Lord is quoted referring to the follow up The House Of The Blue Light, “We made the massive mistake of trying to make our music current. We discovered that people didn’t want us to do that”.
“Child In Time” receives huge response from the enthusiastic audience and is slightly marred by people shouting nearby. This is one that captures the essence of the Mark II sound and a highlight in any show featuring Ian Gillan.
Ritchie takes center stage for some noodling around with his octave pedal and gets into “Difficult To Cure” which flows seamlessly into the keyboard solos. Lord takes the crowd through an impressive journey of organ, piano, and synth. The tail end of “Knocking At Your Back Door” is unfortunately missing, cutting directly to Gillan’s intro to “Lazy”. “Space Truckin” reaches 13 minutes and is the final song of the main set. Jon Lord manages to incorporate a piece of “Into The Fire” into the extended jam.
Deep Purple return for the encore and play an abbreviated loose version of “Woman From Tokyo” lasting only three minutes. Gillan says “it’s been awhile” at the start so perhaps they weren’t prepared to play it. “Black Night” caps off the night with the band having some fun with some old familiar melodies including none other than, “Running Bear”, made famous by Johnny Preston in 1959 and written by the Big Bopper.
Running Bear comes in a glossy gatefold sleeve with a picture of the (master?) cassette used on the inside. This is another very nice production from Tarantura that would probably appeal more to the hard core Deep Purple collector due to some of the issues mentioned above.