DEEP PURPLE with SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA and special guest RONNIE JAMES DIO October 10th, 2000; PAGEAS ARENA, PRAHA.
Hello Purple people all around the world!
My name is Martin, I'm a member of the Deep Purple Fan Club Poland. I'd like to tell you a story of an unforgettable night we had a while ago. We decided to visit our neighbour's capital to see how our Masters make it with Orchestra.
It all started around 8:30 p.m., as Jon Lord entered the stage, welcomed with a thundering shout of a +20,000 crowd. He welcomed us ("good to be back in Prague") introduced the concert ("it's gonna be a bit different to what Purple used to do") and the first song - "Pictured Within" ("it goes from here" - he pointed at the heart - "to there" - he pointed to us). Miller Anderson came out and while the song started he cut the applause with a nervous "sssshhhhhh!" I thought he behaved like Pavarotti or someone. In one second he killed the spirit Lord was trying to share with us. Although the track was absolutely beautifully played, I felt a bit disgusted with such behaviour of this strange guy. [He was probably only trying to create the right atmosphere for Jon's very emotional song. Ed.]
I forgot quickly this bitter bit because people got loud again seeing Paicey, Rog and Steve coming out. Ah, but this was only an overture for a hysteric roar that we produced as Ronnie appeared on stage. I was about to melt down to the ground when I heard this VOICE for the first time in my life. Nothing more to say, especially as it was in this uniquely beautiful "Sitting In A Dream". "Love Is All", Dio introduced the song as one about peace, love, understanding and.... alcohol (smiles on all faces for a while). I was totally amazed hearing how Purple thundered out this music. Steve played the fist-knocking-out-solo of the evening in this middle 'feast' part. This was also followed by a stunning carousel of lights. Then a great surprise - "Fever Dreams" - seems like it wasn't done before during the tour - people just loved it - so hard and powerful. Ronnie even tried to give his hand to the fans, but the guards refused to let him get down and walk along the fence. Stupid mules! HE was so near, mum... (sniff!) All I can say: The band Dio Purple smashes out any rival in the business at the moment (as well as some other a bit better known shade of Purple... :-)). "Rainbow In The Dark" - my God! It made the hall fly. It was just like a dream, seeing how Paice and Glover enjoyed playing it, while Morse presented a really 'Campbellic' solo, if you know what I mean. Ronnie's throat seems to be made of stainless steel and remains untouched by the passing time. His voice is still so great it makes you cry. And no one smiles and gesticulates like he does. He's next after God in vocals, in spite of being sixty. I asked him after concert if there's any secret behind it. Answer? "Training (not straining). You have to know what you can do and what you can't, that's all." Back to the concert - it wasn't easy to let him go off the stage, he made us "sail away (all the fools...)".
Still we had some more joy to have. Jon again introduced the next song: "It comes from the times when Purple was young and innocent." (Smile) "It features my great friend, one of the greatest rock drummers in the world, Ian Paice!" Bang! "Wring That Neck" falls on us. Really jazzy, really swingy. Lots of organ, trumpet and sax, beautiful bass passage from Rog in the middle. It felt so cool as in the good old days, oh dear...
Once again the roof was raised up - Ian G. came to the Sabbath at last. Warm words of welcome, joy and... "Here's a thing called "Fools"." I started to cry. Ask Peter, my friend, he saw my tears. I've been waiting all my funky Purple life to hear it with my own ears. I just can't describe this feeling. Purple lights around and this crawling strength and mastery of this killing 'monsterpiece'. Jon's Hammond and 'violin' again triumphant, Steve's solo really brilliant, but... Gillan sang with a passion of unheard level. A furious voice, like he's been deserted by the whole world, trying to sing his soul, heart and mind out. I HAVE NEVER EVER HEARD HIM SINGING WITH SUCH ENGAGEMENT and it was he who was the hero of this song, though each and every note here was masterful. But getting up from my knees wasn't for me yet. Ian announced "When A Blind Man Cries". I just hadn't dared to wish for it, and it is probably the greatest gift of the evening, totally beautiful. Orchestra takes over the intro, Morse gently tunes in. Silent tears again, this I hear also for the very first time myself. While later a complete breakdown - unexpectedly Jon takes the first solo and shapes it into the finest portion of lyrics and sadness I have ever heard from him. Breathtaking sound. Perfect again, note by note, they haven't done it any better before, but maybe they'll make it in the future. All I know is that this couple of classics turned out to be the highest point of the evening for me.
I was having a rest from then on, having fun during excellent versions of "Ted The Mechanic" and "Watching The Sky". Really nice, but without surprises.
Ian then announced, "A song with a migrating title which we like to do very much since we developed it. What's it called Steve? Ah, tonight it's called "Well Tempered Guitar"." It appeared to be a stunning guitar piece, bursting out with classical scales close to idea of Bach's fugues. It sounded also like a sort of battle raging on between Morse and orchestra. He got a huge round of applause for it. Being surprised on one hand, we were lucky to hear it on the other, as, according to what Steve told me, it's not going to be put on the new album. So it was surely live and rare!
Again we got back to a bit of rest from getting shocked as the Purps served us with marvellous versions of "Pictures Of Home" and "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming". Then Ian introduced the main point of the evening - the first and third movements of "The Concerto". The second part was dropped, but I didn't feel like crying over it. I think it was a good move in order to the keep the raging tempo of the show and to make place for the three magic evergreens we didn't really expect to hear (there is one more to go). It was easy to see that Deep Purple felt really confident now playing "The Concerto". The solos were braver than in London. Steve's part in the "First Movement" was quite similar to the construction of the solo we know from "Total Abandon", very good though. There was also much more of Jon and his brilliant organ in both parts. But the real leader was Paicey, who presented an absolutely superb solo in the "Third Movement", much longer than he used to do in recent years. The trick with the statue of the antique thinker was the finest: In the "First Moment" I really didn't know what was going on. He sat by the drum looking as if something was broken - right elbow on the drum, chin on his fist and a look on his face like "what the hell have I done?" A second of confusion amongst the audience, then suddenly his left hand beats the drum faster and faster.... He played a marvellous figure with his left hand only! I just thought how he really is the greatest rock drummer. Huge ovations followed every solo part of the boys or orchestra, the same as at the end of every movement. And still the kettle of wonders was full...
Gillan came back and introduced Anderson, orchestra, Paul Mann, horn section and the girl choir doing backing vocals in some places. Then... Jon to Ian: "Shall we start with a cartoon?" Why not! He played the "Bugs Bunny Theme" and before we even managed to laugh a bit he changed it into a "Perfect Strangers" intro. The hall went wild, the sound of this anthem with orchestra was so full of power! Wonderful lights around making tremendous effect. In the end Roger played the bass almost like Ritchie in "Space Truckin'": he picked it up or kept the keys near to the face. He also sung all the words - lovely view! In the very closing Ian unexpectedly gave a 20 second long scream into the microphone - my God - he was at his best all through the evening! But why shouldn't we get a bit higher?
Steve intones "Iron Man". In a second, the crowd sings the riff loudly - Ronnie comes out singing the first lines and there you have it - Purple plays Black Sabbath! The audience goes completely awkward. But let's kick some more: "Back In Black" and "Sweet Home Alabama" (with girls singing the chorus). Dio and Gillan watch Morse's escapade with real amazement on their faces! Only three notes from "Heartbreaker" and our guitarist goes for... "Stairway To Heaven"!!! Good heavens! The band joined in and played the best part of Led Zeppelin's classic with Steve fully blowing out Page's solo! Complete apocalypse and hysteria amongst the people. "Smoke On The Water" launches off... Two of the best rock voices ever rule the stage. It all has the power of nuclear meltdown... What a night!
It wasn't easy to let them go off the stage. As the orchestra packed bags we tried to initiate singing "Black Night" to have a perfect encore. Though our attempts failed, the Purps did come back onstage, being blown away by our applause. Stars on the back wall of the hall... "Highway Star"! It was an orgy again for this last time around. Gillan took every scream clearly, he even doodled the solo with Steve - note by note - no words to describe it. Rog joined Morse for their favourite synchronised head-banging in the end - what a view! And there wasn't a typical goodbye from Ian - but he sung us a little lullaby for the very last goodbye. What more to say? "I can't let you go, even though it's over..." It was the greatest night of my life. The rest is a history.
PS. For the most patient fans there was an autograph and little chat session in front of the hall. Believe me: It was an absolutely breathtaking experience for a beginner. DEEP DIO PURPLE IN SYMPHONIC SHAPE RULES!