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The time of our lives in Liége

Johan and I arrived at 7 pm after a 3 hours drive (we got a ¾ hour traffic jam around Brussel). There were quite a lot of people; although when ordering a drink at the bar we did not have to wait. Yet half an hour later there was a queue already. The T-shirt sellers did a good job, shouting and luring people. The prices dropped by 5 euro compared to Roeselare 2004. I had a hard time choosing one; my wife will be happy: my 50th T-shirt!

The average age of the attendees was around 45, I saw young people of 10 years and even someone of around 70. Some men looked like half-bald and half-ponytailed weirdoes. Talking of which: Johan was wearing a Blackmore’s Night T-shirt. Some people were talking about this, in a way of: “this guy does not even know Blackmore is no longer in Deep Purple!” I don’t think they know Johan has seen Deep Purple over 100 times (if not more!).

A few minutes before 8 pm we heard some noise, the support (Café Bertrand, a French band) already started their part of the gig; while Johan and I emptied at ease our drinks: we are used that most Purple supports are shitty (except for Gotthard and Uriah Heep), and because we had numbered seats. When we came into the hall, it was completely dark and a lot of noise, or was it music?

After our eyes got used to the dark, we saw the arena part of the hall was already filled; and, because of the darkness and the steepness of the stairs, we could not find our seats,. So 3 minutes later we returned to the bar. I was glad we had seats because I felt a bit ill, and probably would not like it to be on my feet for the whole show. (Afterwards I was home on sick leave for more than a week).

After another beer (and half an hour) everyone returned to the bar, so we went looking for our seats, which were already taken by someone else. As our tickets and seats were numbered, they quickly changed places. Our places turned out to be great: the first row above the arena; we even had little foldable tables!

Useful to put my camera and writing stuff on. I only was afraid that people would be standing in front of us (there was a small path). By now the hall was even more filled with public, only a few seats –with bad view of the stage – remained empty. Apparently there was an audience of 5500 music lovers.

At 21:00 drums started rolling: the intro to PICTURES OF HOME. Nice view: all those little camera screens. We got a short solo from Steve, including a very short piece of Child in Time.
The song went straight into THINGS I NEVER SAID, again with a short solo from Morse. I think the audience quite liked the song, since it received a good applause.

Like we got used to (by the last concerts we’ve seen), they again directly went into another song: INTO THE FIRE. I had the impression Ian was slightly hoarse.

During STRANGE KIND OF WOMAN everybody was clapping along, which was a nice view from where I was sitting. I still like the new ending Gillan knitted at the song. But I do have to say, that so far, all this songs were played rather routine.

Now Ian spoke for the first time this evening: “Superb! Thank you very much! Alrite! Amazing…blah blah… And now the title track of our new record, it has been out for 2 years now RAPTURE OF THE DEEP” (this last he said in a very deep voice). It looked like things got more loose, and they did not take it no longer as a routine, perhaps they had to warm up, like a diesel car?

“We have 2 friends, people back from the sixties. They were puritans both, and they had 4 buttocks…huh?… Mum?!? (Laughter in the hall) I did not know you were coming tonight? I’ll throw 20 dollar. Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford…” Then he said something about 2 buttocks and 4 breasts. MARY LONG. Steve was fantastic again with a nice solo. I had a look at Johan and it looked like he really enjoyed himself as well. “That’s a true story, they were very rude, so were we, but they started it.”

Ian was rattling along about something I did not understand a word off. KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE. Love the heavy, bassy sound. Again I had the impression Gillan was struggling with the higher tones. But, hey! I am not complaining, after all he sang this kind of stuff since he was a young lad, and now he is 62! I hope that I will be as fit as he is when I will be 62 (in 13 years time)

“Kiss Tomorrow goodbye, what a morbid thought…blah blah… we all know that the price of petrol is more than 100 dollars… now I am gonna introduce you to the one and only Steve Morse” CONTACT LOST. This soon switches over to his terrific solo, including some dreamy stuff. And, this is quite a long time ago: the guitar parade! Please please me (The Beatles), Cat Scratch Fever (Ted Nugent), (Led Zeppelin), Sweet Child of Mine (Guns & Roses), Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix), …? And then into the majestic WELL DRESSED GUITAR. As usual this was the highlight of the evening, agreed by the complete audience, after this more than 12 minutes masterpiece, the applause was furious!

THE BATTLE RAGES ON, without his usual ‘and now from the four corners of hell”. Good one!

Then it was Don’s time to show what he is capable off, pity his intro lasted only about 1 ½ minutes. LAZY. Which was played fantastic. Everybody was clapping their hands during the song. I must say, although the venue being a sport hall, that the sound was great. And I was glad no one stood in front of us, on that foot path.

Ian again was babbling; I could not understand a word of it. LOOSEN MY STRINGS. Great to hear this one (as far as I remember well, I think for the first time). I “blame” it on the internet, I already knew that they were gonna play this song. Gillan was again struggling a bit with the higher notes, but it had something special.

“And now… Don Airey” With a real solo, he played a bit heavy classic stuff (Bach and Rachmaninov apparently), next was a piano recital which turned into one of Jon’s trademarks: boogie woogie. He really is the best continuator for Jon. Someone said he played even some Ozzy stuff. Apparently he also did something which is well known in Liège. And no Star Wars!!!

After a too short 4 minutes is was time for PERFECT STRANGERS now even without the blue spots, only white ones. I had the impression, during the intro, that the pictures on the video wall of Don playing was not completely matching the stuff we heard. Strange… (Or was it my imagination?). Maybe that was the reason why I found it a lesser performance of this song, which normally I love.

“and now we are gathered together… SPACE TRUCKIN’ . Always loved that one (except for Mk III, when it became too funky). It only lasted 5 minutes. Pity all songs are shorter than in the 70s. Wouldn’t that be a nice idea, for their last tour? Playing 15 – 30 minute songs like the good ol’ days? Again a huge response from the crowd.

HIGHWAY STAR. I love the ‘new’ long intro. Only Paicey gives away what song they will play. It takes 2 minutes before they launch into it. Brilliant!! The audience were having the time of their lives in the hot hall.

Steve started a sweet short slow, unknown to me, intro. Not even a minute later the whole hall exploded: SMOKE ON THE WATER. As usual a real crowdpleaser with everybody clapping and singing along. “Unbelievable, unbelievable, you are fantastic… We love you”

At 22:37 the first part was over.

A short 2 minutes later Deep Purple returned on stage. Roger’s roadie, wearing a chef’s hat, handed him over his bass. Paicey tried to juggle a drum stick, but sadly lost it. Don started a roundabout tune. HUSH. Nice one, including Ian’s infamous one handed drum roll during his solo. I do hope that the many pictures I took (1443!!) won’t be too shaky, because the bench we were sitting on was trembling all the time, with everyone clapping and tapping their feet.

Immediately Roger played his nice long intro to BLACK NIGHT. Pity it was the last song. It all ended much too soon at 22:55. Roger was the last one to leave the stage.

While we were having a beer, trying to avoid the traffic jam, we saw someone from the support, Café Bertrand, selling and signing t-shirts and so. We met Ron, a Dutch man whom we often see at gigs. The concert was good, not bad at all, seen them better, but seen them worse also. After a slowly routine start it got better and better.

Of the 1.443 pix I took, after a first check, I already binned 863. Now I’m gonna check them out some more, so when I keep about 100, that would be great. And yeah, I still enjoy a concert when I am taking photographs.

Michel de Pourq

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