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Orchestral Gillan in Linz

On March 31st Ian Gillan of Deep Purple gave a solo performance with the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Austria. The show was almost sold out.

The situation with age group was as varied as it usually is during Deep Purple performances. On my left I saw an approximately 70-year-old man, and on my right there was a couple, 40 years old both of them. In front of me there was a 16-year-old girl, and behind me I saw parents taking care of their kid.

It was my fourth time seeing Ian performing with an orchestra. This time the show took place in Linz, Austria – the craddle of cultural and musical heritage.

Friedman Riehle conducted The Bruckner Orchestra and the glamorous Lidia Baich was a special guest. I somehow knew from the moment I heard about the concert that the angel would descend from heaven to provide her personal violin touch.

Highway Star
Strange Kind of Woman
Woman From Tokyo
Wasted Sunsets
Ted the Mechanic (Lidia Baich)
No Lotion For That
Pictures of Home
Fireball (Lidia Baich)
Perfect Strangers
When a Blind Man Cries
Black Night
Smoke on the Water
– – –
Pictures of Home

The show did not only comprise of Ian’s performance. The orchestra also performed ‘Out of the Universe’ just before Ian took the stage and ‘Pictures of an Exhibition’ before the intermission. They basically followed the setlist I saw in Germany.

Before ‘Out of the Universe’ two attractive girls from Czech Republic performed ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’, and ‘Show Must Go On’. It was a nice introductory part to the main event. For those who did not know what to expect the girls’ performance served as the harbinger of what was to come. For a handful of fans it was a gentle reminder.

What was striking for the latter group was the sound of the orchestra blended with the vocals. It was so clear. Each and every instrument was audible. Also the vocals did not step outside the orchestra – it was the driving part of the performance. For the first time in my life, I did not see the show from the first row. Thus, I could easily estimate the work of the sound engineer – it was brilliant. But as I found out later Ian brought Deep Purple’s sound engineer with him so everything worked like a clockwork.

Ian’s voice was drifting from the stage through the venue towards the back wall, bouncing of it and falling swiftly down. It was not returning. Great work!

The show was a fusion thing, performed with excitement and applauded with lots of enthusiasm. Thanks to the combination of Friedman’s work, sound engineer’s input and Ian’s vocals the ambience was there, and the elusive element of Deep Purple’s evergreens was captured. Obviously it was all in a different mood than Deep Purple but that was the spirit.

Ian was in good shape, seemed a bit tired but we have to remember the man came back from Armenia where he recorded a DVD, did a lot of press conferences and interviews, and was a guest in a local ‘idol’ type of TV show. Nevertheless, he put on a terrific performance and managed to deliver the goods once again. Those fans who wanted high fives with Ian could easily approach the stage and do it.

I personally treat Ian’s solo shows with an orchestra as a chance for him to keep the vocals hot and take a break from singing in high register. I mean he does not need to scream because for me he can do without it. He has a terrific timbre now.

‘Highway Star’ without any screams sounded very distinctive. Instead of screaming ‘I love her, I need her, I bleed her’ he sang it the way he sings ‘Better Days’ on OETM – in a sort of whisper manner. Worked for me! It is really refreshing to witness Ian performing in a different manner with 85 people on stage with him.

86 because of Lidia’s appearances. She was stunning. I mean not only she was stunningly beautiful, in a green, evening dress, but her touches in ‘Ted The Mechanic’ and ‘Fireball’ were great. In ‘Ted’ she was playing the part of guitar solo and in ‘Fireball’ she took her place in the vicinity of the keyboard. Yes, she nailed both organ and guitar part. I was really amazed. The orchestra, Lidia’s violin (her beauty too), and Ian’s voice is a combination that is hard to come by, and for me personally, it was the embodiment of high culture.

There were absolutely no glitches whatsoever, be it from Ian or the orchestra. They played really well, and their takes on Purple cuts were errorless and tasteful. I had tears in my eyes when I heard ‘Wasted Sunsets’ sung by Ian for the first time in my life. It was a very emotional moment for me, and he sounded so much better than on the ‘Perfect Strangers’ album.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think he had to mature to perform some pieces with so much emotion he puts in nowadays. I did not even miss the guitar sound. The title cut from 1984 album was performed in a fashion that sent shivers down my spine. I do not know. But sometimes I think there is something wrong with me. I literary live within the music. It provides the fuel for my soul..

‘Pictures of Home’ was chosen for an encore as the song in its original rock form has the orchestral momentum in it. The guitar and organ part were substituted by the orchestra and Ian’s vocals were providing the tune and he was the driving force behind ‘85 piece band’. ‘No Lotion For That’, a swinging rock’n’roll track that caught me daydreaming about the Morocco tour. But as they say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

A word of conclusion for a closing paragraph. That evening in Linz treated fans of Ian Gillan to a side that is rarely seen outside his normal sphere of performance. It was enjoyable and surprising and needs to be experienced to be able to fully appreciate the over-all talents of this truly unique performer.

6 Comments to “Orchestral Gillan in Linz”:

  1. 1
    Gary says:

    Great writing, Marcin. Very vivid 🙂

  2. 2
    thomas max says:

    Thank you very much for the great review!

    It would be nice to see this coming out on DVD, wouldn`t it?


  3. 3
    marcinn says:

    Thanks, guys. I enjoyed that one and did my best to express it in the review 🙂

  4. 4
    Martin says:

    Hi, my father was also there and took some videos, quality is not high-end but not bad for a small cam, if you like to watch it, go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/Karltelekom

  5. 5
    marcinn says:

    Thanks Martin. I saw those videos couple of days after the show. Nice… On a sidenote, the DVD from Yerevan (Ian’s orchestral performance in Armenia) is due to be released in September.

  6. 6
    Crimson Ghost says:

    Nice one my friend!

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