It rains. Inconvenient certainly, and most definitely depressing, but a positive challenge for both bands and 80,000 alike. It is a challenge that few rise to meet and fewer see to any result. To stand on wood and simply run though the "set" proves incredibly tiresome. Alaska are tiresome.
Leslie West is fat, and very wonderful. Decked out the fool's uniform of red and sequin, the guitarist and Mountain pushed hard through the bottles, drizzle and Godalmighty sound system, the latter blown in waves across the park, across the masses still tramping through rivers of mud from the car park. I'm glad Leslie shows the first signs of a failed temper, and sorry that Deep Purple don't have the courage or courtesy to give them a fairer technical hearing.
We wait expectantly for UFO, the one reformation which seems somehow healthy and natural. We get UFO in triumph, the UFO of old and their set of immaculate, entertaining rogue rock. Mogg prowls in the silly, yellow tights, howling expertly through "Love To Love", "Blinded By A Lie", "Lights Out"... trading centre-stage with Tommy M and always aware of and open to the crowd. The sun shines brightly and briefly, the tide of bottles waver and UFO turn in a performance to relish. They're gone all toosoon to the strains of "Doctor, Doctor", and I wanted so much more.
While UFO are bitter-sweet fun, Meat Loaf is ludicrous. By rights the man should be in a bathchair with his broken leg, but that's Marvin for you. Always trying frantically to impress everyone, and seldom succeeding. He shouts a lot, says "fuck" on live radio and wobbles his bottom at the young(ish) lady stage left. He sings, sometimes quite magnificently, and even manages to translate his atrocious lyrics into an understandable language of rock. Then again, we always know that Meat would win some stupid victory this afternoon.
Quite simply, the Scorpions are superb. They've been better, but with preceding performances floundering in the rain the German machines been primed to save the day. They burst out with "Blackout" and "Coming Home" and the sodden crowd go goofball. It cannot be easy for anyone to warm up for Deep Purple but the antics and motivation of Schenker/Meine/Jabbs dwarfs the dull monster to come.
Klaus Meine turns ballerina circles like a broken puppet, that voice lifting such mediocre songs as "Big City Nights" and "Still Loving You" beyond mere composition, the fluid punch of two guitars resounding to Rarebell's solid beat, their mixture of cockeyed humour, presence and drifting rifferama belting sweetly though the night. They deserved better than this rain-soaked scene.
We wait for Deep Purple. God, do we wait, in pouring rain and freezing wind we stand silly as the mud rises and plenty of minions fuss around on stage. An intro to wake the dead (oh, look, the PA's all noisy now) and the Deep Purple reunion bash is underway with "Highway Star". Highway bloody Star? Purple offer us nothing new and probably had no intention of either.
"Perfect Strangers" was nothing new, not the slightest hint of acknowledgement to changes which had taken place in their absence, and tonight that arrogance burns painfully. The solos, the wacky lasers and fireworks, "Smoke On The Water", fat old men ruling the day. It gets depressing, even with "Woman From Tokyo" as an encore and a greatest hits approach, but Deep Purple don't even have to try and that hurts. They put echo onto Gillan's screeches now, and Matthias Jabbs smacks Blackmore into fields of blundering incompetence, but still they win. Smart-alec victors.
Right now, Deep Purple do not need us and probably don't even like us, but they're considerably richer because of us. It's an attitude I find hard to take. I began to feel guilty for the electric guitar at times.
Knebworth? The Longest Day was elsewhere, I believe?
Thanks to Garry Smith