IAN GILLAN WITH THE DON AIREY BAND AND ORCHESTRA
Legendary Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan has remained a seminal singer throughout the decades, be it in a band context or solo, continuing to influence new generations of folk. And his successful and illustrious career has stretched well into the twenty first century, and he continues with a seemingly unfaltering enthusiasm. November 2016 saw an ever-ardent Gillan take to stages across Eastern Europe, together with The Don Airey Band (Purple’s keys man since the turn of the century), which also features renowned blues rock guitarist Simon McBride, bassist Laurence Cottle and drummer Jon Finnigan. And some backing singers. And a different orchestra in each location.
Liner notes from the man himself reveals that he never ever listens back to any of his live recordings. He seems to prefer the lived moment of the performance itself, and all the “here and now” reciprocity of mutually shared pleasure between band and audience, for each different live experience. He has no time at all for audio/visual documents of such, hence the title of this 2CD release, ‘Contractual Obligation #2: Live in Warsaw’. Apparently, there’s also a ‘Contractual Obligation #1: Live in Moscow’ (BD) and ‘Contractual Obligation #3: Live in St Petersburg’ (3LP) on the way. More live fodder for Gillan to avoid. While no one out there is contractually obliged to buy and listen to this stuff, just like Gillan himself, fans will obviously still lap this up en masse and want to add to their collections. And I suppose it’s through journalistic obligation that I’ve indulged in #2 myself, seeing as it’s turned up for review!
First, I must say that the package itself is fantastic. Despite an apathetic Gillian, earMUSIC have gone to town in designing and manufacturing a very nice glossy digipak indeed, complete with great photography + booklet (featuring said liner notes, credits, and further photos). The man himself might not care, but his label evidently does, and the fans indubitably will.
Of the music itself, there are some great performances to be heard across a setlist comprised of Purple classics, Gillan solo material, and occasional divergences into other stuff, such as the Rainbow instrumental, ‘Difficult to Cure (Beethoven’s Ninth)’ (a fantastic rendition). I guess it can be safely assumed that if Gillan, by his own admission, gives not one small fuck about any of his live performances after the event, there’ll be zero overdubs here. At least regarding his vocals, anyway. As such, he was in very fine voice indeed at this Warsaw show, and the evidence is on ‘Contractual Obligation #2’ to be heard. Instrumentally, both Don Airey and his musical entourage, plus the orchestra and backing singers, were also on top form, and have all been captured wonderfully for this live recording, courtesy of Lothar Strunk. And the mix by Eike Freese is incredible; everything can be heard with a great deal of clarity.
All in all, even though Gillan himself has eschewed this and, if he’s to be believed, every other live recording on which he features, this is not one Gillan/Purple fans will want to pass on themselves. From packaging to performances to production… and even the eccentrically humorous liner notes, ‘Contractual Obligation #2: Live in Warsaw’ is up there with the very best live releases.
CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION #2: LIVE IN WARSAW
Review by Mark Holmes
26th July 2019
CD1: 1) Hang Me Out to Dry; 2) Picture of Home; 3) No Lotion for That; 4) Strange Kind of Woman; 5) Razzle Dazzle; 6) A Day Late 'n' a Dollar Short; 7) Lazy; 8) Rapture of the Deep; 9) When a Blind Man Cries
CD2: 1) You're Gonna Ruin Me Baby; 2) No More Cane on the Brazos; 3) Difficult to Cure (Beethoven's Ninth); 4) Anya; 5) Perfect Strangers; 6) Hell to Pay; 7) Demon's Eye; 8) Smoke on the Water; 9) Hush; 10) Black Night
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"From packaging to performances to production… and even the eccentrically humorous liner notes, ‘Contractual Obligation #2: Live in Warsaw’ is up there with the very best live releases."