Headliners/Closed out Alberta Classic Rock Weekend
High River, Alberta, CANADA
Sunday, Aug. 3
Attendance when DP played: 20,000 (a sellout)
Carl Kottmeier and I could tell early on that there was something of
concern around Jonís keyboards before ELO came on. There were several
mini-conferences going on between manager Bruce Payne, stage manager
Charlie Lewis and even Steve made an
early appearance to check out the equipment setup. To make a long story
short, a surge of electricity somehow blew the circuitry on Jonís
Hammond organ and that was that. Like they could have turned around and
said to the crowd: ďExcuse us folks, but do any of you happen to have an
extra Hammond B3 lying around?Ē So the scramble was on to find it and
somehow they found another one. So DPís scheduled 9:30 p.m. appearance
went off course via 1) things running late and 2) Jonís organ problem
:-) as IG made reference to in typical Gillan humor.
So finally, when the boys got their cue, it was 11:13 p.m. But it took a
few minutes to get everything in proper running order: (read: getting
the volume up on the organ to full power and then, getting Rogerís bass
amps back to the ďonĒ side of full sound. I have to admit as all this
was going on, I was thinking to myself: ĎDonít tell me the band is just
going to have to scrape by and hope for the best with faulty equipment
But then the tide turned.
Hush finally kicked in with a longer than usual tuneup preamble ó and
from then on ó it was just absolutely unbelievable. We decided we would
sit back a bit to get the full scope of the sound with the 18 speaker
banks hanging high from each side and the various speakers and such
lined up across the stage. As you all know, when youíre too close with
such a wide setup, you donít get the proper effect. Hell, we could have
sat right up front if we had wanted to.
Simply put, I didnít think they could top the three gigs in Toronto
and New York back in Nov/96. But they did! You just canít touch this
band. They all nailed their required starring parts as the band was in
full flight throughout in front of 20,000 ó announced earlier as a
sellout. A perfect night with nary a cloud in the sky and the stars in
Iíve got to tell you ó of all the outdoor shows Iíve been to (in the
high double figures), that sound matched the best ones Iíve heard. Like
I said before, we wanted to sit back a bit and be dead centre. Kudos to
Charlie Lewis and his crew for pulling it off. Roger told me later the
mixing engineerís name, and in my hazy fog, I have forgotten (sorry) his
name. But it was first-rate output for such heavy rock.
Carl and I knew we were in for something special when after Fireball,
we heard the opening rumble to Into The Fire ó the full version,
followed a few songs later with Bloodsucker. Just stunning work.
I must say Iím a huge Gillan fan and have seen the legend perform
several times live throughout the years ó and I can honestly tell you he
has never sung better. He was in pitch perfect scream mode ó wailing
away in full-throated fashion. Yeah, there were some quieter moments,
too. :-) A bang-on performance Iíll never forget.
One of my favorite parts on the _I_ tour was listening to Steveís solo
on Cascades. Itís never the same and is always an engaging few minutes
to watch as he meddles with the volume and tone controls and performs
that patented mastery along the fretboard. A-1 as usual.
I wasnít sure they were going to use the strobe light on No One Came,
but it was dark enough and when the light kicked in, the crowd just ate
Again, Carl and I were remarking to each other ó what an amazing sound
ó and the fact that they are the best band on the planet!
Of course, it was a full army of arms in the air when Smoke chimed in
after Steveís interlude. I looked behind me to see the masses getting
off on it from every corner. People did come from miles around ó
especially Carl and Sherri, who drove 10 hours or so from Vancouver.
A soulful When A Blind Man Cries was perfect for the mood under this
sky of stars and when Speed King gets going full bore and Gillanís
screams are piercing though the air, well . . . you know, you just canít
touch this band!!!
After a brief exit, DP were back out for the encore of Perfect
Strangers which went over very well and then onto the finale of Highway
Star. Steve even reached deeper on the intro ó I swear an even more
frantic, string-bending rev-up than on the _I_ tour. Of course, Iím
going nuts now because Highway Star is the epitome of simple, but
dramatic song structure and when I hear it live in person, well, Iím
rather manic. Blistering throughout, with Paice killing it on the skins
and Lord, Iím out of breath, not to mention out of voice by the end of
The concert clocked in at one hour, 32 minutes. I knew we wouldnít get
the full set beforehand because itís a festival, so I was trying to
figure out what would be dropped. Depending on what tour itinerary you
reference, the songs dropped were: Maybe Iím A Leo, Pictures Of Home,
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming (my personal loss), Rosaís Cantina and
But to gain Into The Fire and Bloodsucker was magnificent.
- Into The Fire
- Ted The Mechanic
- Black Night
- Cascades: Iím Not Your Lover
- Woman From Tokyo
- No One Came
- Smoke on the Water
- When a Blind Man Cries
- Speed King
- Perfect Strangers
- Highway Star
So off we went, hoping for a rendez-vous with the band back at the
hotel at some point. Now, I have to tell you, in earlier conversations
with Bruce, I had offered my place (a Deep Purple museum) as a meeting
place afterwards if something couldnít be worked out back at the hotel
because being a Sunday, the bar was closed. To make a long story short,
we eventually met Bruce, Steve and Roger back at the hotel. They all had
early morning flights, so it was understandable that some sleep was in
order for them. We got in a quick hello to Jon and Ian Paice who zoomed
up to their rooms.
Then, Ian Gillan greeted us and after telling him that his vocals hit
the heights, he said the magic words that started what was to become my
dream come true... ďSo Glen, weíre heading off to your place, right?Ē
Carl (thanks) pulled up my Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo out front and
the journey began to the Miller household just 15 minutes away.
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