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Pavarotti & friends, Parco Novi Sad, Modena, Italy
May 27, 2003

Yesterday I saw "Pavarotti & Friends" concert transmitted live on RaiUno. The show started on time around 9 p.m. and lasted for the next four hours. It must have been a very special evening for Pavarotti as it was 10th edition of the event, which had previously gathered dozens of great names and raised lots of money in aid of children from the Third World, South America and Far East. This year's aim was to get money for the Iraq refugees.

Yesterday's special guests were Pavarotti's personal favourites, including Queen, Bono, Zucchero, Eric Clapton and Deep Purple. I must confess that of my greatest interest were of course Deep Purple, Queen and Clapton and the only one that felt missing for me was Joe Cocker. Still I enjoyed other performances, especially Clapton's "Stormy Monday" and "Holy Mother" in duet with Pavarotti, both songs with splendid guitar playing from Slowhand.

The evening was opened beautifully by Queen's "We Will Rock You". The band (supported by Neil Murray on bass) later also played "Radio Ga Ga", "Too Much Love Will Kill You" (performed by Brian May and Pavarotti) and, to a great satisfaction of the audience, "We Are The Champions" with Zucchero taking over the lead vocals.

It wasn't until around 10.30 p.m. when Deep Purple first entered the stage and played "Smoke On The Water". The band looked very relaxed and rested. Gillan, dressed in a loose white 'something' (known from the previous tours), was in a very good shape. And so was of course the rest: Morse, as usually very modest and smiling all the time to the audience; Paice, dressed in black - definitely drummer No 1 of the evening; Airey, hitting the organ heavily and Glover playing with his bass to the camera. The extra thing about the song was that the band was joined onstage by Vanessa Mae on violin - she did good.

Deep Purple was definitely the loudest act to perform that evening and stormed the stage with the powerful orchestral arrangement of the song. I was a bit afraid that they might not return on stage but they did, and even twice!

They came back again with Gillan to perform "Nessun Dorma" with Maestro - yes, the setlist remained the same as two years ago, but it was the same with other artists who have previously appeared at "Pavarotti & Friends". I haven't seen Gillan singing "Nessun Dorma" two years ago, but I have heard it. This year's version was exactly the same but Gillan must have been much more confident this time. Even the biggest applause from the audience for him came at the similar moment - just after he finished singing the lenghened part of his vocal line. It's hard for me to be objective but I think Gillan's appearance with Pavarotti was vocaly most demanding of all duets, though Bono's interpretation of "Ave Maria" should be noted.

The greatest suprise came at the third part of the show when Deep Purple were announced again, and again performed "Smoke On The Water" (!?) I guess there must have been a gap in the setlist as Liza Minelli could not appear (because of a broken leg). It's a pity the band did not play any other song. I think "When A Blind Man Cries" would suit the evening just perfectly. Anyway, in my opinion, the second version of "Smoke On The Water" was much better. Gillan's voice sounded more powerful and much stronger. The band also seemed more confident at this point as the audience sang the chorus beutifully alone after it had been encouraged by Gillan. Deep Purple rocked the stage in great style, delievering the most powerful performance of all (ha, why should I be objective if they were so good? ;)

The band of course returned later for the grand finale of the show and the joint performance of "La Donna Mobile" with Gillan singing one verse of the song. Now, that moment was a really interesting "who's who" of 'classic rock' - Gillan came on stage chatting with Brian May and later we could see Deep Purple singing in one row with the likes of Roger Taylor, Eric Clapton, Vanessa Mae and Spike Edney. Of note: Lionel Richie also looked like if he would like to join the 'classic' row on stage ;)

Bartosz Kazana

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