Somebody pinch me!!!!!
First off, I have to say that we saw Purple at the Sunrise Musical Theatre in Florida on March 3rd, 1995 which was one of the first shows to include Steve Morse on guitar. They surprised everyone with their performance and it was already evident that Blackmore was the problem this band was having for a while. We then saw them last night at the House of Blues in Orlando. What a show. "Ritchie Who?" It's done, it's over. This band is complete and ready for the present and future.
Now for the Pompano Beach Saga!
We arrived early to the show and were standing around to the side of the stage before the opening band took stage. My wife, knowing how much I love Purple and also knowing how bad I've wanted to meet them, was on a mission. GET BACK STAGE. A staff person came out of a doorway to the side of the stage, and Tina (my lovely, crazy, beautiful, brilliant wife), ran over and jammed her foot in the opening just before it closed and said, "Come on." I said, "Are you nuts, they'll kick us out and we will be thrown out and miss the show." She convinced me to enter and thus what comes next is what dreams are made of.
We were all alone, wandering around the hallway which connects to the theatre. I was so nervous, you could hear my bones chattering. It was like the scene in the Wizard of Oz, when they are walking down that corridor towards the Wizard's room and the Lion is all freaked out holding his tail. I kept saying, "Let's turn back before they boot us out." She kept saying, "Are you nuts? This is your chance to see these guys and you are going to see them."
As we advanced down the narrow hall, there was a door to the left with a star on it and voices coming from within. To my surprise, Tina knocked on the door. I couldn't believe it. But then, a voice with a British accent says, "Come in." Tina opened the door and of all things says, "OH LORD," and as I looked in, there stood, right before my eyes, Jon Lord himself, big as life. He looked at us and said, "May I help you?" I mumbled something to the effect that I was a huge fan and that I just wished to express my appreciation for the years of great music that they have given me and to express how good they sound now. Then over to the right was Ian Paice, sitting on a bench and giving me a "thumbs up" stating, "Thanks." There were some other people in there, (not Purple) and then Jon Lord said, "Well thank you very much but we really have some things to discuss before we go on, so if you will leave us for a moment." I respectfully thanked them for allowing me to say hello, and we backed out, shutting the door.
All I can say is that I couldn't believe what had just occurred. I looked at Tina and said, "We better go before we get kicked out." Of course she responded with, "Are you nuts? You will never get another chance like this in your life. Nobody is bothering us, let's hang around and see who else comes around." No sooner did she finish saying that, when Roger Glover comes walking up. She calls to him and asks if he would mind taking a picture with me. He very willingly says, "Absolutely, I'd love to." So I stood next to him, and Tina took two pictures. He then says, "I'd love to stay and chat with you, but there are some things I must go over before we go on. Maybe I'll see you later on."
Still, nobody made us leave. We were all alone back there as things just kept happening. There was a bench off to the side, and Tina says, "Let's sit here and see who else comes by." Believe it or not, we sat for maybe two minutes when from behind us from the adjoining inside stage, comes Ian Gillan, not seeing us, but with a puzzled look on his face. Tina of course calls out, "Mr. Gillan, would it be possible to get a picture of you with my husband? He is a huge fan." He came over and put his arm around me and she took the picture. Then he said, "Sorry if I'm in a rush but, we're still undecided on certain songs to play so I must be off. Maybe I'll see you later." Needless to say, I am totally flabbergasted.
As I begin to sit back down on the bench due to weak knees from this, Tina says, "Look, it's Steve Morse!" Sure enough, here comes Steve, walking with his fiancÚ, down the hall towards that door where Jon Lord was. Of course, Tina says, "Steve, would it be possible to get a picture of you with my husband?" He said, "Absolutely" and click, yet another picture with one of my idols. We chatted for a moment about the fact that we had gotten married just over a year ago, and wished them luck with their upcoming wedding. He then shook my hand and congratulated us on ours and I told him how glad I was that he was in this band and how bad they needed him. He was extremely appreciative and then went on into that dressing room. Well, all I can say is that I fell to my seat after that.
We sat there for a minute or two when one of the Staff people came out and told us that we needed to leave due to the fact that they were getting ready to go on stage for the show. We said "Thank you" and began to walk down the hallway towards the door that we had come in through.
The whole time this went on, I had to go to the bathroom really bad. As we were approaching the exit door, to my right was a door that said "Bathroom" on it. I told Tina, "I gotta go now," and I went in. As I was in there, I heard Tina outside the door talking to someone. As I very sheepishly opened the door to come out, Tina says, "Honey, Ian Paice would like to take a picture with you." I was shocked to see him standing there next to her. I started mumbling about why I was in that room and he said, "I know, your wife told me of your discomfort. Let's take the picture and you really must be going as we are going on right now as soon as I get done in there with same problem."
At this time, the whole Deep Purple entourage came out of that room where we saw Paice and Lord and began in our direction. I thanked Mr. Paice and the rest of the band and wished them the best and we went out to our seats and watched the most incredible show ever. Musically incredible. They played "7th Heaven" from the upcoming "Abandon" LP but dropped "Any Fule Know That". It was great to hear some of the old stuff that never made their live shows, a complete "Woman From Tokyo", "No One Came", "Hush" and "Bloodsucker". Steve has made his mark and is well at home with this band. This is the band he has needed to show what he is made of. I also think that he is what they need, to really be able to show what they are made of. Great vibes throughout and outrageous performances by all. I burned up the rest of my film with pictures of the show.
Now, to make a long story longer, the saga continues. After the show, we were standing around mesmerized with the whole ordeal. The place was emptying out and I noticed two girls just sitting in seats on the front row as if they were waiting for something. I approached them and asked what they were waiting for. They said they were hoping to meet the band and that they were in a band of their own and were great fans. I told them of our experience and they were in awe. I turned and went back to Tina who was talking to a couple friends that we had gone to the show with, telling them of our experience. Just then I hear a girl's voice yelling, "Come On." I looked over and those two girls were halfway up a stairway with a group of about eight people, motioning to hurry with their hands, heading towards a door where stood a fellow in a green "Staff" shirt. I said, "Hold On!" and we rushed to the stairs and they told him that we were with them.
At this point, it began to sink in. We were about to enter the actual "Meet and Greet" after the show. We first got to meet the band one by one before the show, and now we can actually be relaxed and see them after the show. We entered a room back stage, and sure enough, one by one came the band, Roger with a beer in hand, passing more out to all of us. Then I realized that I had a picture with everyone but JON LORD and that I had used up all of my film. Damn it. Every one had something with them to get autographs on, but I was completely unprepared. Tina had a great idea. I was wearing a custom made vest that has a picture of the "In Rock" album cover on the back which I had them sign by each of their respective faces. I asked Steve to please sign Ritchie's face because that's his spot now. He said, "I'll sign under it but I won't disrespect Mr. Blackmore and sign on it." What a cool guy. Pure Class. I got to talk to each of them and of course express some thoughts about how they are doing and some songs to play. I got to talk to Bruce Payne and express how these guys need to be given more exposure and to promote the hell out of their new stuff because it is so damn good.
What a night, I got my vest signed by everyone. I got to talk to my idols. I got pictures with everyone but Jon Lord. I got to see the best concert ever. What more is there. Well maybe down the road I will get a picture of Jon and myself and maybe even get those pictures signed by each of them. Nahhh. That would be too much to ask for. Or would it?