Earlier this year, Deep Purple announced resident electric guitar hero Steve Morse would be taking a temporary hiatus from the band, and that blues-rock ace Simon McBride would be stepping in to fill his spot.
Now, fan-filmed footage has emerged online of the legendary rock group performing with McBride for the first time, as they kicked off their tour on Sunday (May 22).
Taking place at the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel, McBride and his new bandmates flexed their chops over a number of Deep Purple hits, with the axeman employing his six-string skills on renditions of Highway Star, Strange Kind of Woman, Uncommon Man, Nothing at All and When a Blind Man Cries.
Footage of McBride – strapped to his trusty PRS 245 – playing Lazy, Space Truckin’ and Smoke on the Water can be found below, with the former track playing host to some incredibly tasty lead playing from the 3:00 mark, which eventually blossoms into an extended solo passage.
On Space Truckin’, the crew flex their neat onstage chemistry – helped by the fact McBride has previously toured with Ian Gillan and Don Airey – by making their way through the track’s swaggering riff exchanges with pinpoint accuracy.
Smoke on the Water, meanwhile, is performed with the exact amount of gusto you’d expect Smoke on the Water to be performed with, and accommodates another display of McBride’s accomplished technique – peep the solo at the 2:50 mark.
It was announced in March that Morse would be taking a step back from Deep Purple duties in order to look after his ill wife. At the time, he stressed “I am not leaving the band”, and revealed he hopes to return to the lineup in the future.
Speaking to Guitar World after his appointment, McBride spoke of the bittersweet circumstances surrounding his new role, and recognized that he had “big boots to fill”.
“When they first mentioned it, I was like, ‘Yeah, okay, whatever…’ because I take everything with a pinch of salt these days,” he said. “I thought if it happens, great, if it doesn’t, then don’t feel too let down.
“We knew for sure in March,” McBride continued, “so I said, ‘Wow, cool, this will be great fun!’ But it’s also not great… which makes it so weird. In the back of my mind, I know it’s happening under crappy circumstances.
“It’s a bittersweet emotion for me, because it’s under sad circumstances, but on the other hand I’m also going ‘Yes!’ because it’s a dream opportunity. It’s a bizarre thing.”
Deep Purple’s next gig takes place tomorrow (May 25) at the Life Park in Istanbul, Turkey.
For a full list of dates, visit Deep Purple’s website.