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Stadion Lekkoatletyczny, Szczecin, Poland
June 28, 2004

Silver Tongue
Woman from Tokyo
I've Got Your Number
Strange Kind Of Woman
Knocking At Your Back Door
Contact Lost
Steve Morse solo
Well Dressed Guitar
Don Airey solo
Perfect Strangers
Highway Star
Ian Paice solo
When A Blind Man Cries
Space Truckin'
Smoke On The Water

Roger Glover solo
Hit the Road Jack
Black Night

"I will never go to a Deep Purple concert again" ... that's what I said when Ritchie left the band in 1993. Of course I went to a gig in 1998. As Jon left the band as well, I said it again. And this time I meant it. Well, sometimes there are coincidences in life and everything changes. I made a trip to Poland (to Szczecin to be exact) to visit my dream woman. As I left the train from Germany, I saw posters for the upcoming Deep Purple gig all over the place. What the heck .. I had seen them 2 dozen times over the years, why not give them another try? The tickets were just 75 Zloty (17 Euros), which is cheap for visitors from Germany, but pretty expensive for the normal polish fans.
The weather on 6/28 was pretty bad, lots of rain and I feared that they would cancel the open air gig, but the weather got better in the afternoon and no rain during the whole evening.
While I was walking towards the "Stadion Lekkoatletyczny" (Track & Field Stadium), I was thinking about my own DP history. A friend of mine, who was living 2 floors below me, had the strange older brother. This long-haired freak was listening to some noisy music all the time. I hated it, I was more into 70's bubblegum stuff (shame on me). My friend suddenly started listening to his brothers stuff as well .. and of course I wanted to be a hard and cool guy too :-) Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Whitesnake, Status Quo, Kiss - that's what we heard. Some good stuff, but nothing exceptional. But then my friend took a double LP with a golden cover out of the box. A silent start .. "song called Highway Star .. HAH". BOOM! WOW! That was it. And it got better. "Child In Time" (Oh my god, Ian Gillan at his best), "Strange Kind Of Woman" (at that time I didn't know that the Ian's voice vs. Ritchie's guitar stuff was more than a fun duel) and last but not least "Space Truckin"" (20 minutes of virtousity). Of course I'm talking about "Made in Japan", the record that made a Deep Purple and hard rock fan out of me. Interestingly enough, I'm not a big fan of "Smoke On The Water". I still think that it is the weakest song on MIJ (please don't kill me). I love it live (especially the good ol" singalong), but on Vinyl or CD? Hmmm. Anyway, I"ve listened to this record maybe 1000 times and it's still my favorite record of all times.
After that magic moment I started to buy every DP record available. But I never felt that magic again. Don't get me wrong, "In Rock", "Machine Head", "Fireball", "Book Of Talisyn" etc. are great records, but I was always more into live LPs.
But wait a minute .. there was another magic moment. The day "Perfect Strangers" hit the streets of Germany. Until that point in time I only was able to listen to old records, but now the famous Mark II version was back together. I bought the LP, went back to my house, shut down the lights, put on my headphones and got goosebumps while "Knockin' At Your Back Door" started.
Over the years my musical way went further. I started listening to Heavy Metal, Speed, Black, Death ... but still went back to DP on a regular basis, because they have changed my life. Maybe that sounds pathetic, but it's the truth. They got me into music big time and music is now an important part of my life.
I've arrived at the stadium at 7.30 p.m. (official start of the show was 5 p.m., with DP set to enter the stage at 8 p.m.). I had to buy a ticket (they sold the tickets out of an old car !!!) and went straight into the stadium. Pretty nice venue. The somewhat small stage was build on tyhe gras on the other side of the stands. Most of the fans (maybe 5000 when DP started to play) were standing, only a couple of hundreds were sitting on the stands. Merchandising was much to expensive. A tour shirt for 130 Zloty (which is est. 30 hours of work for a normal polish worker)??? No wonder that they didn't sell that much (I've seen less than 10 guys wearing the shirt).
When I've entered the ground, the 1st local support band ended their set. The 2nd polish band started at 7.45 (so much for the 8 p.m. starting time) and got on almost everybodies nerves with their polish version of Evanescense (pretty female singer with a thin voice and loud guitars). Thank god they played "only" 35 minutes.
At 9 p.m. Deep Purple finally entered the stage (who dressed Ian Gillan in this awful purple lace shirt??) and started without any intro with their set. "Silver Tongue" might be a pretty good song, but it wasn't the best opener. The crowd was happy to see their heroes and some knew the song, but the majority was expecting something else. Next song was "Woman From Tokyo" and the crowd errupted. It was clear that most of the fans came to hear the old songs. It was a nice version of this classic song, but don't ask me why, I've always liked it more with David Coverdale on vocals. The fans were now into the show and accepted another new song, "I've Got Your Number". A very strong song, which found it's way right into my ears, especially the middle part. Time to get crazy again, "Strange Kind Of Woman" was celebrated in front of the enthusiastic crowd. You know, this song is always a test, how good Ian's voice is on a certain evening. And he was in good form, even doing some higher screams. Not as good was Steve. Don't get me wrong, his guitar play is technical pretty good, but he has no feeling. Ian and Steve tried to do the famous guitar vs voice battle, but thank god it was short. "Bananas" came and went without anything special, followed by "Knockin" At Your Back Door". A wonderful song, the fans were into it .. but once again, compare the live versions of this song with Blackmore / Lord with Airey / Morse versions. Of course it's a good thing that they don't just copy the originals, but the version in Szczecin was a notch below the old standard. "Contact Lost" (dedicated to the people dying in the space shuttle Columbia) showed a different side of Steve. He really was able to show some feeling in his play. Do this more often! Steve went straight to his solo. Some nice effects, good technique, but the feeling was gone again. "Well Dressed Guitar" was .. well, I can't remember. Time for Don Airey's solo. He started with some classical stuff and had the crowd in his hands, while playing parts of the polish anthem (all the german guys in the crowd were quite during that bit). He finished of course with the Star Wars theme, which the crowd loved. The rest of the band came back on stage and they went straight to "Perfect Strangers". I have no idea what they did behind the stage during Airey's solo, but their timing was off and Ian's voice was suddenly much worse. The fans liked it anyway and the song ended with much applause. Once again, the whole mood changed. The band was suddenly back 100 % and played the highlight of the evening, a very powerful version of "Highway Star". The fans went berzerk, Ian was doing some high screams left and right, Ian Paice banged his drums like in the good ol' days and even Don and Steve didn't do harm to this masterpiece in any way. A groovy version of "Lazy" was another step in the right direction. Well played and spiced up with Ian's drum solo. It started like his famous "The Mule" solo, but went downhill from there. I've heard much better from him. Ian Gillan's wonderful blues voice is perfectly suited for "When A Blind Man Cries" amd there were plenty of love couples kissing. Unfortunately I was there alone ;-). The kissing stopped when "Space Truckin'" started. Of course it was a short version, but very powerful. Have I said already that Steve Morse can't be compared to this guy in black? But still I wanna do it. Let me tell you another little story. Two days before the concert I heard a local cover band playing "Smoke On The Water". And I thought to myself .. "Is it really that hard to play the opening riff in the right way?". It looks like it is, because Steve didn't play it any better than the local guy. Still it was another highlight incl. the famous singalong part. The guys left the stage after about 75 minutes and the fans were a little bit shocked. But of course the gig continued after 3 minutes of applause, whistleling and "Deep Purple" chats. The first extra was "Hush", still a great song after all these years. Even some local football hooligans in the crowd had fun with the "NaaaaaNaNaNaaaaaNaNaNaaaaa" :-) They went straight to Roger's solo, which I liked very much, continued with "Hit The Road Jack" and of course finished with "Black Night". The gig ended after 105 minutes and I think that most fans went home happy. The only complaint heard on the way back (and even the next morning on polish radio) was that they didn't play "Child In Time". I agree!
Overall it was a good concert and you could see that the guys had lots of fun on stage. I think they were surprised by the great response. Especially Ian Gillan was in top form, doing his somewhat strange, but highly entertaining stuff. He smiled the whole 105 minutes and clearly had fun with the crowd.
In case you wanna know it .. yes, I will go to more DP concerts in future. It isn't the same band anymore, but still a damn good hard rockin" machine!


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