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Tripple up in Sarajevo, Budapest and Graz

My friend, Dave, and I travelled from the US to the Sarajevo, Budapest, and Graz shows. They were all excellent, of course, and I see no need to rave about the band’s performance at each because they performed amazingly, as usual. I do want to point out some interesting aspects of each, though.

1. Sarajevo
a. Tickets cost the equivalent of $17 American.
b. It was the only show where the fans were subjected to a full body pat down search.
c. Tour merchandise was inexpensive.
d. Though vocalizing exceptionally well for every song, Ian Gillan said not one word to the crowd–and I am serious, not one word.
e. The setlist had one difference. Instead of The Battle Rages On, they played Knockin at Your Back Door.
f. The fans were wild, emoting like no other show that I ever attended.
g. It was almost surreal afterwards when we walked to downtown Sarajevo among the locals, joining them in their loud and raw Black Night chants of “oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh, oh oh.”

2. Budapest
a. It was the first time that I saw a coat check at an arena.
b. The venue was new and very comfortable.
c. The sound was great.
d. I never saw so many people in business-type clothing at a rock concert.
e. Gillan tried hard to interact with the crowd, but I found them to be mildly unresponsive to him.

3. Graz
a. The acoustics in the venue were substandard in my opinion. I will not speculate about the cause.
b. I found the crowd to be mighty appreciative, especially as the program moved through its second half.
c. They offered the most memorable moment of my trip by having a gorgeous blond woman dressed in black with a purple sash around her waist play with the band on Rapture of the Deep and the last encore, Black Knight. She was awesome and added a flair to the music that I could never have anticipated. The show concluded with Steve and her dueling, responding perfectly to each other’s challenges. The visual was just as cool, because they faced each other at center stage with their long blond hair seeming like living pillars of virtuosity. It was the last part of our trip and it was a sight that I will never forget.

It truly is “all about the music.” Frankly, I cannot imagine a more worthwile investment of time and money than to have experienced these shows among the people of the locales.

I am proud of the band to have seen the intensity of emotions that they evoked and, conversely, to have felt the appreciation that the fans reciprocated to the band. Thanks once again to the band for making a part of my life very special, and to The Highway Star for allowing me to express these sentiments.

Craig Neely, Emmaus, Pennsylvania

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