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An Evening with Ian Paice & Pete York

Ian Paice and Pete York come onstage very punctually at the announced showtime (9PM). Paicey makes a short speech, saying that they are going to do something a little different from an average rock concert tonight, and Pete York translates it into German, adding plenty of jokes. (Now a resident in the USA, Pete has lived in Germany for many years and speaks good German, although he gets his cases and genders mixed up - well, so do I! - and is very amusing to listen to.) He then goes on to say "let's present the orchestra now..." and introduces Colin Hodgkinson & Miller Anderson, who are welcomed by a huge applause from the audience. They go straight into the first number, I'm a Man (Chicago Transit Authority/Spencer Davis Group), with Colin singing.

Pete grabs the mic again: "Thank you very much, that was called I'm a Man - one of the great rock songs of all times, not yet covered by British peers. (Audience laughs.) You'll never know, you'll never know...", and after pleasing the audience by telling them how wonderful it was to be back here ("This city changes every time we come here, and it's more spectacular and more exciting every time, and it's nice to be here..."), he goes on to introduce the next song. "We're going to do a little thing, which I think you might remember from the days of Cream. Remember the band, Cream? (loud "YES!" from the audience) Well, Cream had a drummer called Ginger Baker (another big "Yeah!!!"), and Ginger was a guy who... We all used to play together in the old days, and Ginger was a little bit of a frightening personality because he looked as if he was quite a dangerous guy. And if you tried to keep up with his drinking and everything else he did, he was dangerous."

So they start playing Sunshine of Your Love, and a huge applause errupts and people start clapping their hands, as soon as they recognise the bass intro.

Pete asks the audience: "before we spread any 'Trommeling' heute Abend (drumming this evening), we should perhaps check wieviele Schlagzeuger und Trommeler (how many percussionists and drummers) we've got here. How many people actually play Schlagzeug? (Some in the audience raise their hands) Yes, you, yes, Du auch (you too), everybody, good! Because if you're not a Schlagzeuger in your hands, you can also become a Schlagzeuger in your head, because everybody loves rhythm. We all have Rhythmus, rhythm is everywhere."

Paicey starts playing the intro to the next piece, and Pete states: "what swings can also rock - and this is a classic example of that." It's Black Night, with a long drum solo section (well, drum duo section, to be more precise!), where the audience starts singing the riff and Miller also ads odd notes in answer. And when the musicians stop playing, the audience starts singing the riff again and clapping their hands very loud, and this goes on for a long, long while - Colin & Miller also join in :-)

Pete: "Thank you very much. We have another little groove for you now. This one goes back a long way, even before that. That was an old piece, but this is (in a comical tone of voice) much, much, much older. This was written by an old gentleman called Blind Lemon Traditional (laughter from audience), who copped a gala. It's a sort of work song. We have 2 pieces now: we have a thing called Limin' Track and a piece called Temp 'Em Up Solid." These are workmen's songs from early 20th century, the first one featuring some mean bass line and sung by Colin, and after Miller's short harmonica break, they go straight into the second song, this time sung by Miller. During this song, Pete walks along the front of the stage, first with a tambourine in his hand and then clapping his hands (soon joined by the audience.)

And now comes the Q&A section, which lasts for about half an hour, including a couple of short demonstrations from Paicey (his one-handed roll and Fireball intro) as well as his longer drum solo section, and the Beatles' Norwegian Wood, performed by Pete, Colin and Miller, leading to an extensive drum solo section by Pete.

As the Q&A section ends, and Colin and Miller come back onstage to join Paicey & Pete. Pete is trying to remember what they played at this point the night before, Paicey pulls out the setlist from his pocket. (This is only the second night of the tour.) While they are confering between them, Miller goes up to his mic...

MA: "I could do the Bob Dylan version if you like..." (He starts playing the guitar and singing, giving a brief impersonation of Dylan, and the audience laugh and cheer.)
PY: Wir improvisieren sehr viel heute Abend, und ich habe einmal in mein Leben, ich hatte für Spass, ich habe kleinen Text geschrieben, für ein Teil dieser Song (we're improvising a lot tonight, and once in my life, for fun, I wrote a little text to part of this next song.) It's very simple, and if I can remember it, I'll sing the second eight [to Miller]. You know what I mean? The second time before we go into the bridge - if you don't mind, cos I've got a little text, which might be fun.
MA: You can sing it all, mate.
PY: I can't, mate.
MA: I don't know...
PY: Not in Spencer's key anyway, I tell you that.
MA: (To the audience) You see, this is the key that Steve Winwood sang in, and also the same key as Spencer sang in. But for me it's a bit high, so (in a deep voice) I'll try and sing it like this...

Gimme Some Lovin' (Spencer Davis Group) is followed by a very enjoyable rendition of St. Thomas (Sonny Rollins), introduced by Pete with the words "OK! Well, it's a cold night in Berlin, but here in Jamaica, or Rio De Janeiro, it's getting a little warmer..." (The rest of the introduction was spoken in a mock Jamaican accent, and I didn't quite get all of it...) When this number is over, Miller teases the crowd with short bursts of SOTW guitar chords (G-Bb-C) which then doesn't go any further or gets inverted...

At this point, Paicey comes to the front of the stage to make a short speech, asking everyone who loved the Beatles and what they stood for, to think about "making the world a better place". Apparently this has been organised in consultation with George Harrison's wife and son, to take place at different places all around the world on this evening at around 9:30PM GMT - not to ask people for a minute's silence but simply to give it a few seconds' thought. Pete then translates this request into German.

As Paicey goes back to his drumkit and sit down, Pete comes forward to make an introduction to the next piece. "Next. Haha - watch me, watch me. Es ist jetzt ein grosse Ehre für mich zu präsentieren, eine absolute Rock-Klassik-Stück. Und es ist natürlich gespielt von den Original-Schlagzeuger (now, it is a great honour for me to present you an absolute rock classic piece. And, of course, it's played by the original drummer): Mr. Ian Paice - a wonderful drummer and a great friend." And so, finally, comes Smoke On the Water. I had already heard a version of this song with Miller singing, at the Tony Ashton Memorial Concert in Buxton a month ago, and had thought then that, although Miller has an amazing voice, it didn't fit this song's style very well. In Buxton, they (well, Stefan Berggren, the Company of Snakes singer) tried to get the audience to sing along the chorus - and despite his repeated attempt, he never got more than people singing half-heartedly (out of embarrassment) and not at all loudly, and he gave up in the end. Here in Berlin, however, no such attempts were made, and everyone was allowed to listen in peace, which we all did. Cool.

Paicey introduces the next number (without mentioning the title), saying that they'd played it together for the first time the night before in Bamberg. "We kept it really loose and really simple, no arrangement. It's just a great bass riff that Colin played on old ???? Brothers record. So we're going to totally improvise again and see what happens. So whatever happens tonight is unique, just for you. We'll see how it goes, OK?" The piece starts with, yes, Colin's bass, and it also features some whacky lead guitar from Miller.

Paicey thanks the audience for coming tonight. He also thanks Colin and Miller for being "absolute diamonds", then they all walk off the stage. When they come back on, Pete makes a speech:

PY: Danke schön. We'd like to, of course, natürlich, wir kommen immer zurück auf der Bühne und eine Zugabe spielen. Das wäre uns sehr enttäuschend (of course, we always come back on the stage to play an encore. It would have been very disappointing to us), if you hadn't 'klatsched' (clapped) at all. We'd go off to the Gardrobe (dressing rooms), "b-y-e" and go off to the Gardrobe, und von Euch Nichts (and nothing at all from you) - "Shit, what are we going to do?!" Anyway, Gott sei Dank (thank God), a bit of 'Jübeling' ("cheering"), and we're back, to spiel noch ein Stück (to play another piece). And I'd like to tell you that, after this Stück, sehr wichtig ist, dass wir natürlich nicht wie andere Leute, die gehen sofort in ihren Rolls-Royces zurück ins Hotel (very importantly, we're of course not like other people, who immediately go back to their hotel in their Rolls-Royces). Oh, no, no, we stay here. We stay here, we're going to bring a couple of 'Stühls' für uns("chair"s for us) here, we're going to sit at the front of the stage here, for the people who want to have an Autogramm. We'd be very happy to do it for you. So I will be probably, nach das nächste Stück vielleicht 10 Minuten, frisches Hemd, a little Deo-Spray an den wichtigen Stellen (10 minutes after this piece perhaps, a fresh shirt and a little deodrant in the important places), und we'll be right here, ok? Give us 10 minutes, and we'll be back. It's been lovely to see you, we'll meet you later. (big applause.)

The title of the last piece is not announced - it's an uptempo piece beginning, again, with Colin's bass line. The show is over at 10:50PM. And, true to his word, Pete comes back again punctually at 11:00PM (it could even have been 10:59...) The "signing session" goes on for 45 minutes, Paicey staying on the longest. (At one point, Pete must have been walking around the auditorium, as he needs a hand from one of the crew to pull him back on stage - "I have a bad back", he explains.) Fans gathered at the front of the stage also get to chat with each other, and the atmosphere is a very warm and friendly one.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening, with a whole variety of musical styles (all executed superbly by this bunch of Class A musicians), lots of laughter and a very relaxed atmosphere. It simply was awesome to see and hear those two masters of Schlagzeug playing side by side, their performance was a physical joy with direct impact on all senses.

Akiko Hada

To the Q&A section in Berlin

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