[ d e e p P u r . p l e ) The Highway Star

They (almost) burned down the gambling house

I travelled from Moscow to Monte Carlo to see Deep Purple. All three concerts that I saw were a huge success, and completely sold out. The shows were not at the famous Casino itself, as it was written in the Tourdates section of THS. [Well, if only someone had told us!! Rasmus] The band performed at the Sporting Club's Salle Des Etoiles (Hall Of The Stars in French) which is a very small venue with its own casino inside (the story of "Smoke On The Water" comes to mind :-), but all ended well this time).

The place was very beautiful, the walls were sparkling with little light bulbs and looked like night sky covered with stars (that's perhaps where the name of the place comes from). The venue itself was a round building with large arch openings opposite the stage facing the sea. So it could almost be called an open air show. I think the capacity of the venue was about 500 people. The audience had to sit at tables laid for dinner which started two hours before the show. I couldn't imagine how you can actually eat during a concert of the band that was once pronounced the loudest group in the world?! Wouldn't the fork and knife in your hands, and plates on the table start to jump to the opening notes of "SOTW"? But there was no damage, because the dinner ended just before the show began.

The opening acts were very strange. First a jazz band like at a restaurant, then a couple of circus performers, and on the second day there were also some cabaret dancers. The audience was unusual for a rock show too. Monte Carlo is a country of millionaires. People arrived to the venue in Ferraris and Porches. Everyone was obliged to dress in their evening suits otherwise they weren't allowed in. For the first time in my life I had to wear an evening gown and high heels to a rock concert!

DP took the stage at 11 pm. I was afraid they would be wearing smokings with ties :-) But they were dressed in their normal clothes. Ian Gillan was barefoot.

The setlist of all three nights was:
Woman From Tokyo
Ted The Mechanic
Well-Dressed Guitar
Perfect Strangers
When A Blind Man Cries
Smoke On The Water
Highway Star
No encores - everything was fitted into one set. The shows were only an hour long.

Right from the beginning people started throwing flowers that stood on their tables to the stage. Ian Gillan got very surprised, picked up one flower that had landed onstage and said: "They usually don't throw any of these". He and other guys were obviously very pleased that the reception was warm. During "Perfect Strangers" everyone started dancing among the tables and waving their napkins in the air. The audience was completely conquered by the magic of Deep Purple.

IG said that he's a cunning linguist thanking everyone in different languages. Ian was in great shape. He sang beautifully. His voice is getting better and better. Introducing "Well-Dressed Guitar" he made a funny comment saying that if everyone had to come in their best evening dress, so their guitar was dressed well too. It's amazing how fast Steve can play! This new instrumental reminds me of his SMB albums.

Just before "Lazy" IG explained why DP performed without Jon Lord and introduced Don Airey, who did a brilliant job. His organ solo before "Perfect Strangers" was great. But anyway I really missed Jon's presence. Hope that he recovers soon and that I will see him on some other tour.

Introducing "SOTW" Big Ian asked everybody to sing along and the audience gladly did it.

The first show ended with fabulous fireworks. The blazes were flying so close that I was afraid they would land on somebody's head or set the place on fire. Remember "they burned down the gambling house"? :-) Well, Deep Purple almost did it with their energy and music.

The audience was even more welcoming on the second day. People were dancing among the tables. The show was almost exactly the same as the previous, but without fireworks. I got backstage after the show and was glad to see the band again.

The concert on the 26th was also the same. The only difference was that Morse played the "Guitar Parade" (Zep's "Heartbreaker", etc) introducing "SOTW". For the last show in Monaco the guys performed at their absolute best. But the audience was quite cool at first. Only at the beginning of "Smoke" did they start jumping like mad. It was incredible! Too bad there were only three gigs and that they were so short. Deep Purple had such success in Monaco that they could sell out more shows.

Thanks to the guys for the autographs and photos.

Olga Davydova

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