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The Sunflower Jam

Poster outside the Albert Hall
On July 8th, 2011, Deep Purple played host to the latest Sunflower Jam at the Royal Albert Hall.

This isn’t a standard DP show, rather a collection of musicians assembled basically to have a bit of a jam that they wouldn’t normally get to do during their ‘day job’.
The evening began with a champagne reception, and at about 7 we were ushered into the main auditorium, transformed for the evening into a huge dining palace. While food was being served, Mario Queen of the circus performed, followed by the dancers of the Pineapple Studios.

As the meal progressed Jeremy Irons appeared on stage to discuss the procedure of the evening and to introduce Michael Dixon from the College of Medicine. Here we are reminded that although this is a night of music, the real purpose of the evening is to raise money to provide complimentary care and to raise awareness of their availability to those who are suffering from ill health. More information on the whole project can be found at http://www.thesunflowerjam.com/, where you can also find a link to make a donation if you wish……

Mario returned for a show of unicycling with one of the Pineapple studio girls as the crowds began to enter into the upper auditorium, and then it was time for the auction to begin. Despite the finances of the world at the moment this went well, perhaps not as spectacular as in previous years, but I trust good money was earned for the cause. Of note a days practice session with Ian Paice went for some £4000, and there were guitars from Planet Rock radio and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers also for sale.
Inside the Arena

But then to the music. I’ve not really known about Newton Faulkner, but he got the show off to a great start with an inventive version of Bohemian Rhapsody, followed by one of his own numbers. I mark myself intrigued after his performance, and will go look for more based on the strength of his set.
Danny Bowes followed, with a storming version of ‘Born to Run’ dedicated to Clarence Clemons.
In the background the backing band comprised Micky Moody and Nicky Fyffe (who recently subbed for RG), Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens, Murray Gould and Jerry Brown.

Margo Buchanan made a welcome return before a personal highlight for myself, Gary Brooker of Procal Harem, and before I knew it I was dancing in the Albert Hall almost ‘inside’ Whiter Shade of Pale. Truly a memorable moment for me, perhaps disturbing for others….
By now the evening is flowing very quickly, and as Joe Bonamassa takes the stage the pace really picks up. Soon joined by Jon Lord you notice that their sounds merge together extremely well. Gary Moore’s son Jack joins in, and you can’t help but feel he has his fathers touch, perhaps one to watch out for….
Jon stays on to perform another two of the highlights of the evening, ‘Bouree’ from the Sarabande album, and ‘Pictured Within’, this time the vocal taken on by Steve Balsamo and Anna Phoebe on Violin.

Someone who’s always been on the radar wanders on next. Rick Wakeman starts off with a variation on Elanor Rigby, before being joined on stage by Jon Lord.
It seems incredible after so many years in the same business, having known each other since ‘God’s dog was a puppy’ that these two, well how would you describe them?, have never been on stage together to perform.. Tonight’s the night, and ‘It’s not as big as it used to be’ is how they choose to do it. A cracking little prog rock keyboard driven tune. By little, of course I mean it’s seven and a half minutes of moog and hammond at it’s finest.
Newton Faulkner then returns to help with Life On Mars, on which Wakeman had originally played, and a splendid rendition it is too.
And before you know it it’s well past 11pm and closing in on the advertised end time.
A short break ensues and then it’s time for Purple.

For me Highway Star is always a perfect opened for a Deep Purple show, and this time is no exception. It sets an early frenetic pace that barely lets up for the next 40 minutes.
Only a superb Contact Lost, the final Space Shuttle was due to lift off this weekend, merging into When a Blind Man Cries show the band slowing down any.
Joe Bonamassa, Jack Moore and Jon Lord all appear back on stage during the set and before you know it the riff begins and it’s Smoke on the Water time. But with a twist, there’s a table covered in cow bells, and uk comedian Bill Bailey is rocking them out to the riff. Gillan in the background can barely contain himself in time to begin singing!
A glance at the time tells us we’re way over the planned finish time, but it’s been an absolute blast of an evening. And musical memories that will last much longer than that money would have lasted in my pocket! You can also read Rasmus’ excellent recollections of the show here.
Of course if you weren’t able to attend there’s always youtube to keep you going..

11 Comments to “The Sunflower Jam”:

  1. 1
    Roberto says:



  2. 2
    Keith says:

    What I saw of it was very enjoyable, but the late start had me tense and checking my watch every five minutes. By 11pm, lotes of people had already left around me. Another five minutes, another five minutes…I finally hung out until 11.35,( just to hear one song) but had to get my last train and missed Deep Purple! Very disappointed!! Could have been more thought put into it, like sticking to the 8.15 start which I planned around.

    I have been a huge Deep Purple fan since Stormbringer and I have seen them 17 times so it is not the end of the world.

    I am extremely please to have given money to this wonderful charity, and I am very pleased that the auction did so well…but I do think they should ensure that the down to earth people who pay for gigs get what they paid for. Charity or not, ¬£100 is a lot of money to some folks! Very unhappy about that, I was so looking forward to it. Now I know that the Sunflower Jam is a party for the rich I will pass on it… I wil just send some money to a great charity.

  3. 3
    dave_wallis says:

    Judging by the photo below, the show wasn’t actually sold out. Don’t you think it missed a big contemporary name, or a legend like Robert Plant, who had appeared at the very first SFJ?


  4. 4
    The Holy Chair says:

    People eating with their backs to Jon while he is rocking out!!!!

    Btw, I d loved to be there for the Jon Lord parts and never mind the DP part.

    But thats me, hey : )

  5. 5
    Roberto says:

    @3 I just think the price of the ticket is really too much…

  6. 6
    Rasmus Heide says:

    Thanks Stephen. Just like to point out that Jon Lord did not appear back onstage during Deep Purple’s set. They didn’t invite him.

  7. 7
    Tracy Heyder (aka Zero the Hero) says:

    “Holy Crap”, I doubt you were missed. They like a good vibe from the crowd and so do I….

    But that’s just me, hey:)

    I wonder, are you this disgruntled because you can’t afford a ticket? You need an attitude adjustment, and a better job might be your ticket happiness….If you could afford to go and see Purple, then maybe you would have a leg to stand upon regarding your constant negativity. I guess I would be pissed at the world if I was unable to go to the show too. Maybe it’s time you grab all your toys and go home.


  8. 8
    The Holy Chair says:

    @ 7

    Are you really demeaning everyone with a less than favourable economic position now?

    I wasnt negative, I just think its weird to see Jon playing at his best and someone else thinks his meal is more attractive.

    You were not there also.

    Spend too much money on bullets? : )

  9. 9
    The Holy Chair says:

    Did somebody see more tubes from the event?

    I m getting sick of SOTW, again and again.

    HS did go amiss I read……
    But WABMC might been enjoyable?

  10. 10
    Tracy Heyder (aka Zero the Hero) says:

    No Chair,

    Not demeaning everybody…..just YOU…LOL. Like I always say….Ain’t got enough money to do what you like? Get a better job. And as in countries like Ethiopia where there is no food nor water? MOVE!!!

    I responded to your typical addition on any subject….
    “Btw, I d loved to be there for the Jon Lord parts and never mind the DP part.

    But thats me, hey : )”.

    See my point?


  11. 11
    Tracy Heyder (aka Zero the Hero) says:


    Your question….
    ‘Spend too much money on bullets?’…..

    ‘You can never spend too much money on what protects you and your family and what brings you and your family food. A gun is useless without bullets. You can never have too many bullets. You never know what awaits around the bend. I’rather be ready for anything than not. Again…don’t make enough money to by Deep Purple Tickets or Bullets????, get a better job…..


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