Deep Purple at the Harrah's Stir Cove in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Friday, September 21, 2018. Photo credit: Robert A. Chadwick


On Friday, September 21, Stir Cove at Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa was the place to be as two legendary British rock bands played their brand of rock n’ roll to an almost sell out crowd for the final concert of the year for Stir. Those bands being heavy metal pioneers Judas Priest and Deep Purple. Both bands have been very influential when it comes to their sound, influencing acts such as Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Van Halen, etc. Just “Smoke on the Water” alone makes you want to hum the main riff, it’s that influential. Let’s delve right in, shall we?

Before the co-headliners played, we were warmed up by a band that was never remotely under my radar, The Temperance Movement. Like the bands they were on tour with, they are from the UK, originally from Scotland. They had a very bluesy, southern rock sound. Lead singer, Phil Campbell, reminded me of a cross between Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker, so much soul in his voice. Campbell also showcased his exceptional harmonica playing. They brought some groovy, bluesy licks, coming from guitarists Matt White and Paul Sayer. They are currently on tour in support of their latest album, A Deeper Cut. If you like gritty, bluesy, southern rock, The Temperance Movement is the band for you.

Next up was none other than the metal gods, Judas Priest. The last time they were in town, May of 2015, was the same night as my high school graduation, which was two miles away from Stir Cove at the Mid-America Center, so it kinda hurt that I was that close to seeing them. But finally it was my chance to see them live. Lead singer Rob Halford is a living legend. The fact that, at the ripe age of 67, he still keeps his voice intact. He has done so much for the metal community, no wonder is he is the Metal God. I was really impressed by Richie Faulkner’s guitar playing. That man was born to shred! Unfortunately, guitarist Glenn Tipton had to halt his touring duties, as he is battling Parkinson’s disease, with producer Andy Sneap filling in, who did a superb job, as well. Bassist Ian Hill even looked and sounded good for his age, being a Priest mainstay since the band’s inception. And last, but not least, drummer Scott Travis is a machine on the drums, especially showcasing his talents on the song, “Painkiller”. They played the classics such as “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”, “Breaking the Law”, and “Living After Midnight”, as well as four songs off their latest album, Firepower. Judas Priest brought such a fiery energy to their performance. I’m amazed they still got it in them.

I wasn’t sure how Deep Purple was going to top Judas Priest to end the night, I was impressed how uniquely they did it. They kicked off their set with “Highway Star”, one of my favorites from them. Singer Ian Gillan, despite being 73, can still sing to the best of his ability. Bassist Roger Glover still looks good, has this pirate look to him with him wearing a bandanna and still killing it on the bass. It’s hard to replace the almighty Ritchie Blackmore, but Steve Morse, having been in the band since 1994, did such a phenomenal job, soloing like no other, making his own. Legendary keyboardist Don Airey did a respectable job to keep the spirit of Jon Lord alive. It was like hearing a live orchestra. But I would have to give the MVP to drummer Ian Paice. I saw saw no deterioration in his playing, so much young at heart in him, having a great time. It was a nice change of pace after Judas Priest. Something to groove to. It was cool to see “Smoke on the Water” live after hearing it countless times whether on the radio or just playing it on guitar. They played “Hush” for their encore, such a timeless hit. Never in a million years would I thought I would see Deep Purple live in concert, as Omaha/Council Bluffs can be hit or miss with artists, so I was glad Stir Cove booked this show. It gave me an utmost respect for these originators of the genre of hard rock/heavy metal.

Deep Purple

Judas Priest

The Temperance Movement

All images © 2014-2018 Robert Chadwick Photography.

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