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The Highway Star

Deep Purple - The journey to PurpendicuLAHR
[ d e e p P u r . p l e ) The Highway Star

The journey to PurpendicuLAHR
or: "How I finally got my priorities straight".

To really appreciate this story you need some background. I discovered Deep purple in my early teens. I remember how I made a deal with my mom to buy me "Made in Japan" if I cut my hair. This must have been back in 1973 and I was a young and faithful fan until the "Burn" album. "Stormbringer" failed to impress me and I lost contact with the band for a long time.

The old albums were always party favourites. I remember one party, must have been back in 78 or 79. We were at a friend's house playing "Made in Japan" so loud that the speakers caught on fire. My friend's parents (and neighbours) weren't too happy.

In the mid eighties me and some friends started to play old Purple-covers. We only played the songs from our childhood, totally ignoring "Perfect Strangers" and the reunion. (I didn't even buy the album.) We only did a few gigs, always at parties and we really had fun but we never took it any further.

Two years ago my phone rang and there was this guy who said he'd heard about me singing DP songs and he asked if it was true that I could do "Child in time". I said -"I could ten years ago but I guess my voice has aged a bit since then". This is how I came to be the singer in a DP-coverband and this is how I came to buy all the CD's I missed, got in to amdp, #DeepPurple-chat and became a 36 year old DP freak. There is just one thing...

Back in -73 I was only twelve years old and from my parents point of view, I was way to young to go to a rock concert. When I was old enough there were other bands that I wanted to see and as I've already told you, I totally missed the 84-reunion.

I really did plan to see them last year in Sweden. I had at least three good chances and I missed them all. Obviously I can give you a bunch of good reasons but in the end, lets face it, I didn't have my priorities straight.

When I first heard about the Lahr concert I tried to convince my wife that it was a brilliant idea to make the trip as a part of our holiday this summer. In some way she didn't like the idea of her, being eight months pregnant, standing in the middle of a German airfield, with 30 000 rock fans and motorcycle enthusiasts. I can't imagine why..?

I bought LATO and I read in the newsgroup that a lot of you guys were going. At nights I was surfing the net trying to find some people to fill the empty seats in my car and I came up with Tatti and Benny. The decision was made, I finally was going to see the band live.

I was chatting to Tatti at #DeepPurple and asked her if she thought we should try to get tickets. She replied that she had some contacts that probably could get her in. I told her that if she got me in I would cover her part of the petrol-money. Tatti agreed and in a mail later that week she said it was OK and that there was a good chance to actually meet the band. This started to sound to good to be true.

After e few phonecalls and some weeks waiting we all met in Halmstad, jumped in to my car and headed for Hannover, where Tatti had a friend who gave us a place to stay for the night, a free dinner and a huge breakfast. (Thank you Klaus, for being an extraordinary person!)

The next evening, after some 600 km we ended up in Baden Baden at a grand hotel next to a casino! This really started to get spooky. I pinched my arm but it didn't help. After a short while the band members entered the bar, one after another. I was sitting there with a big smile on my face and felt more and more like a thirteen year old kid again.

It didn't take long before we sat there, talking about fish-restaurants with Ian Paice, like there was nothing else to talk about..? The guys went for rehearsals but later that evening we talked some more to IP and we also had a long chat with Roger. He told us stuff about the -25 reissues and the new album. Mostly stuff that you can read on the web pages. He told us that Gillan is working with new lyrics during the summer and that "Machine Head -25" might be a double CD.

It's amazing how little I have to tell you about this evening. It's not that I'm keeping a lot to myself. I had a great time and I was just smiling. There is a picture of me standing beside Ian Gillan and he's fooling around, making a great Gene Simmons tongue trick, and I'm just standing there, smiling. I guess that's all I could do. I really look silly...

The next day was the day of the concert. We had an amdp meeting planned behind mix-point at 5pm and I really didn't want to miss the opportunity to meet some of you guys in person. I asked Tatti about the plan. How were we supposed to get in? Were we on the guestlist? Did we get backstagepasses or what? We went to the hotel and after a while Tatti said that we were supposed to follow a minibus with Colin Hart and some other guys from the DP management.

We jumped in to the car and got out to the highway just to realise that we didn't have much petrol. We checked the maps and found that we had a small chance to get to Lahr but that we really needed to fill up. Using our headlights and blinkers we got the DP-minibus to follow us into a petrol station just to find a long line of cars waiting. We realised that this would take to long for the DP-guys and we had to make a fast decision. To stay and get petrol and miss the backstage opportunity or to hang on and wish for the best. Here, at this point, I think we really proved we had our priorities straight. We followed the minibus and crossed our fingers.

When we got of the highway we almost immediately saw the festival area. We were lucky the airfield weren't at the other side of town. The first gate we had to pass was a police control and I guess the DP people didn't realise that we would have any problems getting through there. Wrong! I guess the police thought that a car full of tents and sleepingbags didn't have much to do in a backstage area and stopped us just to get us in the right direction. The minibus disappeared in front of us and we couldn't do anything but try to explain to the police that we were guests of Deep purple. I don't think they believed us but the desperation on our faces must have made an impression and after a few minutes we got through. We asked some guys for the backstagearea and soon we were stopped at another gate.

In this part of Germany people don't talk much English. I guess they have enough problems keeping up with the French. Anyway, I think it helped us that they had problems understanding what we said because we really looked like we knew what we were talking about. Just when we were waving our hands, pointing, and slowly pronouncing: COLIN HART, BRUCE PAYNE, GUESTS, DEEP PURPLE, INTERNET, GREEN MERCEDES V230 TURBODIESEL, one of the festival hot-shots were passing buy. Something in our story must have sounded trustworthy enough to make him let us pass through the gate and in to the backstage area. And there was the Mercedes and everything was sorted out. We parked and waited for an hour or so and then we got our backstagepasses. We were in!

At 5pm Benny and I was waiting behind mixpoint to meet all the amdp people. The problem was that there was a tower of speakers, just where we had decided to meet. It was almost impossible to stand there without getting severe hearing problems. And as we stopped almost anyone in a DP T-shirt, trying to ask if he was one of us, they couldn't hear what we said. I guess we must have made a pretty stupid impression to these visitors. Finally we met some people and after a while we were getting a few beers and a few laughs. The guys we met were Fedor De Lange, Doug MacBeath (Doug oh_Doug), Angelo Mutinelli (Purps) Stephen Thomson (Madma(n)) and hes mom (Madmom..? nehh). We also said hello to Stathis and some other guys in the backstage area.

The concert was great. The band really rocked and even if they had to pick some songs out to make the set a bit shorter, I think it was just long enough to make even me satisfied. This was the first gig they did since march and you could tell they were enjoying themselves, and so was I. The first thing that hit me was that this band doesn't feel old. We heard Emerson, Lake & Palmer earlier that evening and even if they were allright, they really gave the impression of being a part of a travelling seventies-circus trying to be what they once were. DP really are what they are here and now. With a mix of old and new songs, fans enough to make an airfield boil and an act that must be one of the best there is to see.

I realise some of you must think it's sad I couldn't see DP with Ritchie. I guess you're right, in a way, but I'll tell you, what Steve and the band are doing on stage is really amazing. This evening I heard Jon Lord playing at his peak (oh yes, that man can play), IP and RG taking the classic grooves even a step further (Fireball, No One Came) and IG singing as soulful as ever (When a blind man cries). And Steve himself is doing stuff so innovative, colourful and beautiful that it makes you wanna laugh and cry at the same time. Steve Morse is giving DP new life, I think he's a Ritchie fan to, just like you and me.

I heard it! I don't know if somebody else did but I swear I heard it! IG did sing "big tits and everything" in Highway Star. I know you don't believe me and that this, more than anything is a proof of genuine bad taste (like we didn't know already) but he did! Just for the record, he did. I think this also proves that the band are in a good mood and have got a distance to their past. Even if this doesn't mean he's gonna do "Mistreated" on the next tour, I think it's funny.

We started the car and it went "bruuum, bruuum, hu,hu, hu, pihuuu" and we were out of petrol. We didn't get five meters. I was stopping cars asking if they could help me when Doug and Fedor came walking, asking if we had problems. Did we have problems? 1,30 am in Lahr without petrol? Yes we had problems! Fedor (who by the way speaks excellent German) and I jumped in to a taxi and Doug and Benny waited for us to come back.

The taxidriver had to drive around the whole airfield, not to get caught in the traffic jam and then he went home to his place to get some petrol he had, just in case the station didn't have a spare tank, but they did, and then back to the car. We drove Doug and Fedor back to their hotel and said goodnight (Thank you guys for helping us!) and then we headed back to Baden Baden.

We entered the hotel bar just about 3 am finding Roger and some of the crew having a good time. We joined in and we talked for a couple of hours. I talked to SM's guitar tech about some humming and other technical problems he had during the gig (If you are interested, send me a mail! I wont bore everybody with this). Roger told us a story about a promotion photo for a guitar he made some years ago. (Roger, if you're reading this; "That's what I call balance" is the appropriate copy, IMHO) Does anybody have the ad? As Roger described it it's a picture of him standing in an impossible, 45 degree angle. with a guitar of some kind. Please let me have a copy if you have it.

We slept a few hours and the next day we drove the 1000 km back to Halmstad. At 2 am, I said goodbye to my travelmates, who had another 500 km to drive. (Tatti and Benny, "you are superb" to quote a famous rock singer.)

At some point Roger said we were crazy, travel so far for just one gig. I asked him if he thought it weren't worth it? "I, said you were crazy, not stupid" he replied. I guess he's right, we are a bit crazy but to be honest, the smile is still on my face.

Cheers OLLE :-)))

PS! Thanks to everybody that made this trip, with all it's events possible. And to my wife, and daughter who gave me the time to do it.

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