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RAH in PURspective

Sat, 16 Oct 1999

    It has been a few weeks now, and time enough to put some perspective on things. The two concerts at the Royal Albert Hall were, in a word, bloody great. (yes, I know, that's two words, so there's no need to start threading about it, I'm a bass player, and Welsh, so I don't know any better!) None of us could really have anticipated the feeling that we experienced together on those nights. What a joy. Thank you all, the most loyal and intelligent bunch of bananas any band could ask for. To stand there on that stage and be given the welcome that we received was truly unforgettable. We do love you, especially all you that work so hard on our behalf on the net.
    As you know, I am a fan of IP, SM, JL and IG, and I think that everyone put in a stellar performance. I loved all the solo pieces. Working with Ronnie after all these years was such a treat as well. In particular I would like to say how proud I am of Jon, who was not only inspired enough to write the Concerto in the first place, but to devote all his time and energy over the months before these dates to ensure that it all went swimmingly, as they say. Great job.
    The five days of rehearsals were super; a lot of concentration, laughs, nerves, memories, old friends, new friends, pizza. Big accolades for our trusty crew, along with various unsung heroes, all part of the team; Charlie Lewis deserves a special mention, a giant among men, talk about grace under pressure. Colin Hart, who has been with us since 1971, did a superb job under intense stress. Alison Hussey was indispensable. Moray and Louie, our sound and lights, and Rob on monitors, all did wonderful things. We stand in the spotlight but all the crew, every single one of them (including the ones that weren't there but were with us on the tours over the last couple of years) deserve your applause. If it wasn't for either you or them we'd still be in a rehearsal room somewhere.
    The other day I was recounting the events that led to the Concerto being performed again thirty years on, to someone who doesn't know much about us, and as I related it I realized what a fantastic tale it is. The circumstances and coincidences that culminated in the shows on 25th. and 26th. September 1999 are quite magical; the manuscript for the Concerto being lost for all those years and then Marco De Goeij approaching Jon in Rotterdam last year after having spent two years of laborious detective work on the score and writing it out again; Paul Mann, Colin Hart's nephew, who as a young boy grew up listening to the Concerto and dreaming of one day becoming a conductor; the LSO, one of the busiest orchestras in the world, having a free weekend; The Royal Albert Hall, just as busy, finding a free weekend; Ronnie Dio, Sam Brown, Miller Anderson, Graham Preskett, Steve Morris, Eddie Hardin, Dave LaRue, Van Romaine, all the singers, the Kick Horns, all being available and willing to offer their services in the name of the charity; and Deep Purple, a band in need of a special event to round off this touring season and a kick off towards the next album. Serendipity, a word that was invented for such occasions.
    My favourite anecdote: Paul Mann and I shared several meals together during the week. One night, on our way back from rehearsals in Putney, the group van stopped at a filling station. We were tired and hungry and I spotted a restaurant over the road that looked enticing. No one else was interested but I persuaded Paul to join me. The two of us told Colin to leave us and we would get a taxi to the hotel later. We entered the establishment and sat down. Apart from one lone diner we were the only people in there and doubts as to the quality of food were soon the topic of our conversation. Paul, like me, appreciates a decent meal and we realized that we had made a mistake right after ordering drinks. So, not wanting to hurt the restaurant's feelings, I asked Paul if he had a cellular phone on him, to which he replied in the affirmative. I suggested that we stage an emergency phone call and that we have to leave suddenly. He activated his phone to ring and then proceeded to have an imaginary, but urgent conversation with a dead piece of plastic. Unfortunately none of the staff were in the vicinity at the time. I pulled my phone out when I saw some of the staff approaching and repeated the procedure, giving an Oscar winning performance, if I say so myself. ("Yes...yes... oh, no.....oh how terrible.....oh fuck.....oh dear.....we were just sitting down to.....what, now?....oh all right..... don't worry....we'll be there....." etc., etc., ad nauseum) It was so convincing that the staff were all but waving good bye with tears in their eyes as we left, wishing us good luck and hoping that all would be well. I'm surprised they didn't buy the drinks. Luckily they didn't notice Paul's less than poker face. We subsequently had a superb meal in an eminently more conducive establishment and were soon reminiscing about our acting debuts over a decent glass of wine. A very nice man, and now a good friend, although no thespian. Yet. One never knows, he is a very talented man.
    Anyway. When's the next one?

Good luck,


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