[% META title = 'Tour Reviews' %]

Snogging on the Rocks

I knew I was late as soon as I was directed into the lower car park. This means a longer walk and more importantly, a huge flight of stone stairs to contend with. I could hear a band and soon recognised the voice of Dio. I ran up the fist few flights of stairs, walked up most of them passing burnt out casualties on the way and crawled up the ones at the top. This gives the security guards a chance to take the piss out of you but I had the last laugh for as usual, they failed to find my camera.

My first glimpse of the short one was a surprise, he was smaller than I imagined but more than made up for it with his presence. Dio belted out mostly the old favorites, much to the delight of the 'old rockers never die' crowd, who seemed to be loving every minute of it. Dio's bass player I recognised as a very craggy Jimmy Bain, I also spotted the drummer to be Simon Wright, ex AC-DC amongst others. The keyboard player was largely anonymous and I deduced that the only thing the guitar player loved more than his guitar was himself. Said guitar player then proved that the heavy metal guitar solo is far from dead by entertaining us with noise for five minutes. Both amusing and impressive, it drew loud approval from the crowd.

Dio's final song was Rainbow In The Dark. It was at this point as the keyboard was cranking out the classic riff that it was pointed out to me by the drunk chick stood next to me that there was a rainbow above the stage in the sky. Truly incredible, how the short one arranged that I'll never know but it was most impressive. [He's got contacts... ;^) Rasmus] In short (ha ha) Dio were a tight group who knew exactly what the crowd wanted to hear and were rewarded with generous response. I thought if this is just the warm up, we're in for a good evening.

I then bumped into John, the guy who fitted the tow hitch to my Volkswagen. He told me he had a chance to go to England 10 years ago to be a rockstar, but obviously turned it down to work in a trailer hitch fitting shop. He knew Dio somehow and was going backstage with his girlfriend to see who he could talk to and cadge some free drink.

Any drummer who has a huge gong in his arsenal can never fail to disappoint. Said gong was wheeled out and positioned behind the drum kit. The name on the drums gave it away, James Kottack, formerly of Kingdom Come. I saw him in 1987 supporting Magnum and very impressive he was. As the rest of the Scorpions' gear was brought out, I noticed that The Scorps had the oldest roadie I've ever seen. It must have been Klaus Meine's Dad, or possibly Granddad. He could barely reach the mike to croak "ein-svei" into it but he managed. Lights down, classical music up, four unmistakably German guys ran onto the stage. Cowboy boots, leather trousers, brightly coloured trousers/waistcoats and leather caps have never gone out of fashion in Deutchland.

The Scorpions then treated us to a real crowd pleaser. Heavy riffs, lots of lights and a wall of sound engulfed the crowd as they, like Dio, played a bunch of crowd pleasers. It has to be said they got a great response partly due to the fact that they get a lot or radioplay over here. Hang on, Winds Of Change, fumble in pocket for fag lighter which I held up along with a hundreds of others until it got too hot to handle (pun). Klaus Miene proceeded to throw out drumsticks at the rate of two dozen a minute. If you want one, check e-bay in a couple of days though he gave out so many they'll never be a collectors item.

The Scorpions played for an hour and a quarter and as they finished, I was surprised to see the crowd thin out. I did think at the time they would be a hard act to follow, mostly for the response they drew out of the audience. I caught up with John again and he told me he spent 10 minutes backstage talking to Dio while Jimmy Bain eyed up his missus (who was clutching a pair of Scorpions drumsticks).

It was just about dark as Deep Purple came on stage. A darkened stage, load classical music again (of unknown origin) turned into a flash of lights as they ripped into Fireball. This was my first chance to see Don Airey, he didn't look out of place but you struggled to hear him. The Purps then proceeded to rock through a set that seemed pretty standard to me. I last saw them in Manchester 1998, prior to that London in 96 or 97 and they played the same sort of stuff. The crowd, after being bludgeoned by The Scorpions took a while to warm up to the craftsmanship and subtlety of Deep Purple but they were won over. They weren't as loud as I hoped and as I said, Don Airey was conspicuous by his lack of volume. He had some pretty big boots to fill and in truth, I don't think he quite pulled it off. Gillan ran barefoot round the stage dressed all in white with short hair. Roger Glover, thought, played a blinder, as did Steve Morse. Ian Paice was good but seemed to miss out on a lot of fill ins. His solo was good, I think he is a great drummer but dare I say a bit lazy these days? The crowd really got into Smoke, Hush and the final Highway Star. Anyone who was at the concert couldn't have failed to enjoy all the bands, an excellent display of classic dinosaur rock .

I thoroughly enjoyed Purple, plus I snogged the drunk chick for a bit. They are my favorite band, Red Rocks is my favorite venue so in a way I couldn't miss. The one chink in their Armour was the lack of Jon Lord. I don't think I'll ever get to see him again as I'll miss the British leg of the tour.

Purple set list:
Woman From Tokyo
Ted The Mechanic
Well Dressed Guitar
Knocking At Your Back Door
Space Truckin'
Don Airy solo
Perfect Strangers
Speed King (including bass and drum solos)
Smoke On The Water
Highway Star

I was driving past a church in Boulder the other day. A sign outside said 'Praise the Lord, he be thy rock'. Ain't that the truth.

Ian Linn

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