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The Highway Star

Pär Holmgren
Andree Schneider (German)
Andreas Thul
Daniel Bengtsson
Axel Dauer
Stathis N. Panagiotopoulos
Adar Avisar

Official Promo shots
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I N T E R V I E W - listen
107 Oak FM, January 23 2000

Video, DVD

Wring That Neck
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming

Liner notes by Jon Lord
Roger Glover about the event
Ian Gillan about event and CD

B U Y   I T
CD: December 27 1999 [J]
CD: February 7 2000 [USA]
CD: January 24 2000 [rest of world]
Video: February 21 2000
DVD: February 21 2000
Deep Purple In Concert With The London Symphony Orchestra

Maybe it's because I was there. Maybe it's because I experience those two nights I'll always remember all over again. Any way, Eagle Records' (Spitfire Records for you Americans) upcoming release of "Deep Purple In Concert With The London Symphony Orchestra" makes it all so very obvious why Deep Purple is the band I probably will follow for quite some long time to come. I will try to explain to you why.

The "Concerto For Group And Orchestra" was performed for the first time on September 24, 1969 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Thirty years later, almost to the day, Deep Purple perform it once again. In the same city. At the same venue. This time with Steve Morse playing the guitar.

The idea was to celebrate the end of 13 months' hectic touring around the globe and to have some fun, inviting a couple of friends, making it into something special. One of the main reasons behind throwing the party, was of course also to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Concerto itself, which was going to be performed together with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paul Mann.

I for one, do firmly believe that Steve's contributions to Deep Purple should be equally recognised as the work with his other bands. Purple's work in the studio and on stage during the last five years, has been some of the band's finest stuff ever, and I can't wait to see what they come up with on the next album/tour. I've heard countless fans of Steve exclaim "Darn, we want to have Steve for ourselves, not playing Smoke On The Water over and over again like some other hired hand" or words to that effect. With all respect, it's a bit of a shame. I just want them to see that today's Purple is about so much more than that. As far as I'm concerned, Steve's role in Purple is just as justified as his given roles in the Dregs and SMB. However, it's definitely not every day a fusion between a rock band and a symphony orchestra happen. With Steve being involved in this project and all, it's an event that deserves coverage.

The CD is a mixture of all sorts of things really. First of all, there is naturally enough "The Concerto" itself, which was the cornerstone of the evening. Divided into three majestic movements, it was the highlight of the concerts back then, and it remains the highlight, while listening to this CD. A lot of praise is due to the Symphony Orchestra itself. Without being too biased, I must admit that it was the most impressive thing I've ever heard live. Imagine a perfect blend of classical music and rock music, in the shape of the best grooves you're likely to hear from Purple. As always, Steve just deliver the goods, providing some of the coolest playing I've heard from him in a long time. Add "blues man" to this guy's references. In addition, we got Jon Lord on the organ. Smoking. It's been a long time since I heard him play with such fire. Ian Paice is his usual steady self, providing the backbone of the band together with Roger Glover, who's handling his bass duties with finesse. You'd only miss him if he wasn't there. And that's a compliment. On top of all we have Ian Gillan. Being pure Gillan.

Put out the lights, turn the volume up, and you're instantly back in the Royal Albert Hall. Well almost... The intimate feeling experienced in the Albert Hall is luckily preserved on the CD. In fact, the orchestra shines through better on disc than at the concerts, where it was slightly hard to distinguish at times. Especially during the mini DP live set, which is another real treat, consisting of songs normally featured in their regular set. The orchestra was put to good use throughout this part as well, breathing new life into fairly old songs (including one of the best versions of "Pictures of Home" I've heard in my life) by providing oh so beautiful arrangements.

Last but not least, the first part of the evening, and consequently the CD, is completely devoted to the solo stuff the Purple People have had the good habits of putting out throughout the years. This leaves us to the incredible Steve Morse Band, which treats us with great versions of "Night Meets Light" (imagine that one with a symphony orchestra folks) [NOTE: "Night Meets Light" is NOT on the CD. - Ed.] and "Take It Off The Top". And the boys surely take it off the top. Steve's duel with fiddler extraordinaire Graham Preskett, together with Van's powerful drumming and Dave's slap bass fest mid-song, leaves one yearning for more. During the solo section, Steve also accompanies Roger Glover's haunting "Sitting In A Dream" and stompy "Love Is All", both featuring very strong vocals by Ronnie James Dio, who happens to be one of my favorite singers, which doesn't exactly make things worse.

In addition, the CD is enhanced, in the sense that it contains a stellar quality video of "Smoke On The Water" (featuring band plus all guests - yeeha!) that can be played on your computer. The word is cool! I presume this is lifted off the upcoming DVD/video (VHS: ERE 114 / DVD: EREDV 114). I'm sure it will be well worth the wait, with the amazing quality that DVD offers in mind. If it's anything like the "Smoke On The Water" video clip it will be a must! And if it's anything like this CD (which comes with a neatly designed booklet including interesting and well-written liner notes by Jon Lord), it will undoubtedly be a very fine testament of a band approaching the peak of their powers.

Daniel Bengtsson
Review first published on the Official Steve Morse Website

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