This is it, Jon's last stand. I for one feel lucky enough to have a ticket for tonight's show, which was originally supposed to take place last March before Gillan's voice went croaky and before Jon Lord officially decided he was leaving the band.
The band are soon firing on all cylinders into opener Fireball. After Mary Long Ian Gillan informs the Regent that he has fond memories of this theatre. "Many years ago I was here watching a Van Morrison show with my friend Paul Mariner (Ipswich Town F.C football foward circa 1978), and we got thrown out for being over enthusiastic!"
After a blistering version of Space Truckin' Gillan makes another announcement, saying that NASA are gonna use that song on their STS107 mission to wake up the astronauts later this year. I always knew Purple's music was universal.
Perfect Strangers and it's time for Jon Lord to do his thing. Once again he gets a big cheer when he appears. A slight change to the set list tonight as Jon has decided that he wants to perform When A Blind Man Cries rather than Don Airey and I'm glad he did, even throwing a segment of Pitured Within and a bit from Concerto, which raises cheers from those in the know. Jon stays for the rest of the gig only stepping down for Don to do Black Night.
All the band are on fine form as usual. Steve Morse does his medley along with Glover and Paicey before Smoke On The Water including snippets of Here Comes The Sun/Back In Black/Can't Explain/La Grange/Stairway To Heaven/All Right Now and Daytripper.
At the end of the encores all six band members come out to the front of the stage to take their bows. Jon Lord walks to fans at the front and shakes everyone's hands. As the others leave the stage Jon stands alone soaking up the adulation for a few minutes and then walks into the darkness of the backstage - and into the end of a magnificent Deep Purple career. Let's not hope the end of a solo too. How about some solo gigs, Jon?
After the gig I was fortunate to meet Jon who said he was a bit sad but also very happy. I even saw Ian Gillan give Jon a peck on the cheek. It was very strange for it all to end in the forecourt at the back of the Regent, but Jon walks away into the night with 30 years of memories.
Cheers Jon - and hello Don.
Unauthorized copying, while sometimes necessary, is never as good as
the real thing (with apologies to Ani)
(c) 2005, The Highway Star