Deep Purple to play O2 Arena Prague

The Long Goodbye Tour may (or may not) be the last chance to see them live

Veteran rock band Deep Purple, famous for their 1972 hit “Smoke on the Water,” has announced a Long Goodbye Tour. But they are not promising to absolutely never play again. The tour hits Prague's O2 Arena on May 22.

The tour also coincides with the release of a new album called Infinite, which comes out April 7. It will be their 20th studio album, and was recorded in the same Nashville studio as their previous one, Now What?!, released in 2013. Both albums were produced by Bob Ezrin. Infinite's first track, “Time for Bedlam,” was released online at the end of 2016.

“It will be a long tour. It may be the last big tour; we don't know. But it will be a long tour, and we will try to get lots of the new record on the stage without losing some of the old songs,” drummer Ian Paice said in a Youtube video interview for Heavyworlds.com. “We haven't made any hard, fast plans. It becomes obvious that you cannot tour the same way that you did when you were 21. It becomes more and more difficult. People have other things in their lives, which takes time. But never say never,” he said, adding they band enjoys playing but needs to be realistic. When the tour is finished, the band will “see how it feels.” He went on to say the 1972 live album Made in Japan was his favorite, as it captured the band at the height of what they were doing back then.

Paice is the only member of the original 1968 lineup who is still in the group. Joining him onstage will be bassist Roger Glover and vocalist Ian Gillan, both in the band since 1969 but with some breaks, guitarist Steve Morse, who replaced Ritchie Blackmore in 1994, and keyboardist Don Airey, who replaced Jon Lord in 2002. This lineup is commonly referred to as Mark VIII.

Blackmore now has his own band, Blackmore's Night, and Lord passed away in 2012.

The Long Goodbye Tour starts May 13 in Bucharest and ends Nov. 23 in London. So far, only European dates for the world tour have been announced.

Now What?! was a comeback for the group. It reached the number one spot in the Austrian, German, Czech and Norwegian charts — but only 110th on the US Billboard 200. It was certified gold in Germany, Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Record review site Allmusic gave it four out of five stars, praising the band for sticking to its original style. “Some things really shouldn't change,” Allmusic reviewer Steve Leggett said.

The new song “Time for Bedlam” is a bit reminiscent of Pink Floyd's albums Animals and The Wall, with lyrics about an oppressive state and the narrator as a political prisoner. The music, though, is classic hard-rocking Deep Purple that shouldn't disappoint fans.

Deep Purple has skipped Prague on its last few tours, not appearing in the city since 2010. The band, though, took the opportunity to see some of the smaller cities in the lovely Central European country. They went to Plzeň and Ostrava in 2015, to Pardubice in 2014, and Slavkov u Brna in 2013. The latter town is famous as the location of the Battle of Austerlitz, where Napoleon beat a larger Russian and Austrian army.

So even if the band does tour after saying goodbye, there is no guarantee Prague will be included.

To date, Deep Purple has played their signature tune “Smoke on the Water” some 1,795 times in concert. “Highway Star,” “Perfect Strangers,” “Black Night” and “Lazy” round out their top five most-performed songs.

A number of bands have staged elaborate farewell tours, only to come back. Kiss is also now on tour again after a 2000–01 farewell tour. Phil Collins, the Eagles, Judas Priest, Nine Inch Nails, Cher, Tina Turner, Ozzy Osbourne, the Who, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Cream all reappeared after saying their long goodbyes on stage.

For more information visit www.livenation.cz

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