Antwerpen, 30th of September, 2000
Only two days before the concert, I decided to book a ticket and travel to Antwerpen in Belgium to see Purple and the orchestra. It was time for some relaxing after some very busy and sometimes difficult weeks, so I decided to skip the arrangements I had made for this Saturday and give myself a present. I did not travel to London in September 1999 which I regret a lot after seeing the video of "The Concerto", so why not grab this extra opportunity to see this event only an hour and a half from home. Of course I have tickets for the concert here in Holland on the 30th of October, but hey, if I like it then, there is no concert nearby for another go!
The Sport Palace was sold out. There were seats in front of the stage. I had a very good seat on the first row of the side grandstand. Step off the stage, walk five meters, go to the right side grandstand, two meters up and there I had an excellent view to the right side of the stage. Behind the band was the orchestra, 81 people on two levels.
After the orchestra had taken their places and tuned their instruments, Jon Lord entered the stage to welcome us to "the home of the echo" for this first night with the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann. What a pleasure to see this conductor at work! I did not keep dry this evening! My eyes got watery during the first number "Pictured Within" sung by Miller Anderson. I can't remember sitting so still during a Purple concert, with my jaw on my knees, as I did during this number.
The rest of the band joined in with the exception of Gillan, and instead it was Dio. He played the same songs as mentioned in the South American reviews. Dio with Deep Purple, great!
After "Wring That Neck", Gillan came on stage and Purple went on with some numbers played with the orchestra. I will try to recall: (not in this order) "Pictures Of Home", an instrumental with the orchestra, "Fools", "Ted The Mechanic", "Sometimes I feel Like Screaming" (mobile phone on my right knee for this the favourite song of my girlfriend who could not come to this concert), "When A Blind Man Cries" and maybe one or two more, I don't know. Years ago, going to a Purple concert, I was sometimes worried about Ian's voice - I have seen some concerts in the past where his voice was not in good condition. There has been none of that since Steve 'throat medicine' Morse joined the band. Every concert I have seen since Steve joined I have been amazed by Ian's voice. This evening was no exception!
Sometimes it was too quiet. Although I was close to the stage and the orchestra, it was difficult to hear them. It did get a lot better after an hour or so, but I hope they will get this right the next concerts. After those numbers, Ian announced Jon Lord's "Concerto". He explained it very nicely as a piece of music in three parts where group and orchestra are slowly discovering and appreciating each other. He mentioned that there were some quiet parts in it and kindly asked the audience to respect the music. The "First Movement" was stunning. I have to admit that it was the first time in my life that I've seen an orchestra playing live (I am turning 40 next year) but it was amazing, especially the last part when band and orchestra are playing together. When it was silent, the response of the crowd was immense, as it was the whole night, but especially after the "First Movement".
Sometimes it was too loud. There are always a few. A few morons who can't appreciate a special atmosphere and who don't respect the musicians on stage. During the quiet parts of the "Second Movement" a few of these morons started to shout. For me it spoiled a lot of the beautiful "Second Movement". It makes me angry again while typing this....I sincerely hope that for the rest of this tour people can pay respect to the music and the musicians, but also to the other 9995 people enjoying the concert. If not, I hope security will take action. Nuff said, brrrrr....
Without (visibly) paying attention to the morons, band and orchestra carried on in the same stunning form. As I mentioned before, this was the first night between this orchestra and the band. During Paicy's short drum solo the rhythm section of the orchestra were standing on their toes to see what Ian was doing. They were enjoying themselves during the whole concert, especially a big guy at the back of the orchestra behind some cymbals and a very large drum. He was swinging, laughing and having a very good time.
It was a pleasure to see "The Concerto" live at last and hats of for this first night performance. Brilliant! After "The Concerto", band and orchestra played "Perfect Strangers" and as an encore "Smoke On The Water" with Dio joining in. What a night... And I am gonna see it all again on the 30th of October!