Only 3 stars for Come Hell or High Water is almost being harsh. But Blackmore's behavior during the concert is so outrageous that I was embarrassed for the band just watching the show. I feel sorry for the fans that actually paid to attend the concert who were probably very excited to see a Deep Purple show where all 5 members participated.
But really only 4 participated. Those 4 being Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, and Jon Lord. Those guys must have huddled before the show and said, "let's give these fans a musical performance that they'll never forget." Whether Blackmore was in the huddle with them or not, one thing is for sure, Blackmore agreed to also give the fans an experience that they'll never forget, but the experience that he provided was how to be a complete jackass...not the experience of the guitar performances that he is legend for.
The back jacket of the DVD reads, "No one who has heard Deep Purple kick off a show with Highway Star will ever forget it...." Well, I sure won't forget how it was done on this DVD. The band comes out on stage, starts the song, but something's missing...Blackmore is missing! The first minute of the song goes by, but there's no Blackmore; there's no guitar playing; only vocals, keys, bass and drums. At first I thought it was a some sort of prestaged thing where Blackmore would appear with much fanfare. Well, he finally does appear where the guitar solo is supposed to come in, but not with much fanfare. Blackmore is clearly pissed about something and is determined to let everyone in the band and audience know it. He walks on stage, saunters over to the amps, grabs a cup of water that is sitting there, flings it through the air, looks at the other guys in the band as if to say, "take-that!", and then he feebly proceeds to play a horrible version of the Highway Star solo. The other guys in the band are visibly exasperated and just roll their eyes.
After Highway Star, the DVD breaks to a quick video interview with Gillian, Paice, Lord and Glover where they comment on how something wasn't working between them that night at the Birmingham NEC, UK, on November 9, 1993, and that Blackmore, as he was known to often do, acted "like an angry little child when he didn't get his way about something".
Clearly, Blackmore indeed didn't get his way about something for the recording of this DVD. The tension on stage was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Blackmore was conspicuously absent from the stage and absent from playing throughout the whole show, and that really took away from the performance. Instead of rocking out through the DVD, I'm sitting there the whole time going, geez what a shame. To be fair, things were working with everyone in the band except just one guy. Gillian, Paice, Lord and Glover did indeed play like it was 1972...they were on.
The song list was terrific. They play:
3-Talk About Love
4-Twist in the Tale
5-Perfect Strangers (Blackmore almost looked as if he njoyed being there for this song.)
7-Knocking at Your Back Door
9-Child in Time
11-The Battle Rages On
14-Woman from Tokyo
15-Paint It Black
16-Smoke on the Water.
Blackmore couldn't wait to get off the stage. He walked right off after Smoke On The Water...exit stage left; the other guys took some bows and exited stage right.
For a 1993 recording, the picture was above average and the sound was very good. You get a superb Dolby 5.1 mix. But the picture quality was brought down a bit by the lighting choice throughout the show; it was as if consideration the night of the show was not given to the fact that the show would be recorded for DVD. The editing was great; you really got to take in each angle before the shot changed.
With the short interviews (spliced in between songs instead of as an extra feature which kind of took away from the live performance illusion) the DVD is an even 2 hours long. There were no Blackmore interviews.
It was great to reminisce and watch a Deep Purple show. The performances were a 5 by Gillian, Paice, Lord and Glover; Blackmore gets a 1. Sound is a 4. Picture is a 3. The long shots of the band in action before changing angle makes up for the choice to put the interviews between songs instead of at the end or as an extra...so the editing is a 3. Hence, 3 stars overall.