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Grand Stage, Shanghai, China
April 2, 2004

The concert was held in Shanghai Grand Stage which is a round shaped former stadium converted to music use. Acoustics are not too bad, I went there earlier during the sound check and everything sounded quite OK even without the audience. I made sure I know which area to get a ticket so I could watch Ian Paice banging his drums. I ended up on 10th row in front of Roger Glover, perfect.
Cui Jian was the opening act and sound was tight and balanced but occasionally a bit too loud, there was some distortion creeping in. CJ was good, no question about it, my Chinese is not good enough to understand the lyrics but at least I translated some of them several years ago so I knew what was going on.
After a short break while CJ's equipment was hauled away Deep Purple started.
The first song was Highway Star and from there it was clear that there is a problem. Somebody there behind the mixing board is either drunk, deaf or both. The mix is absolutely terrible, keyboards are coming through like jet engine, guitar is screaming like amplified paper shredder, the bass is somewhere there and the drums, well, they are buried so deep in the mix that it would require construction equipment from the nearby high-rise building site to dig them out. Ian Gillan's voice was like a drowning man's screems, heard them here and there. What is going on here.
One rule of thumb in China is (what I have found out myself) never let the Chinese soundman touch the mixing board. Their experience seems to be from Beijing Opera and and that's how your band will sound. I didn't see who was behind the board but damn, where is a PLA soldier when he is needed. The concert was a very good example of when you push the fader one extra millimeter it takes the mix from powerful and tight to amplified fart category. Maybe I should also blame the sound system itself which seemed to be missing couple of subwoofers, nah, it sounded OK when CJ was on the stage.
Of what I could hear the band did good job on the songs ranging from Hush to I Got Your Number. They were also having good time on the stage which probably means the monitor mix was OK.
I'd better keep my schedule open to catch DP in better surroundings. After seeing some of their concert DVD's its really a disappointment to see the band live with such bad sound. I'm sitting behind a recording studio gear everyday so I might be picky but some of my friends were also pointing out that there was something wrong with the sound and: "How come the drummer is playing and we can't hear him? Are those real drums?"
Anyway, thanks guys, you were good and showed how things are done. People don't realize how important it is to have top bands like Deep Purple play in China and show what good rock music is all about.
Seppo Lehto

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