[ d e e p P u r . p l e ) The Highway Star

Concert in Milan 23.10.00

Magnifique, superbe, absolutely fantastic!!!!!!!!!!! Deep Purple with an orchestra!!!!! Listening to the CD I said, "Mmmm...if the concert is like this...... it won't be as beautiful, they will play only a few (very) beautiful songs." Instead, yesterday evening Deep Purple gave us a spectacular concert!

It all began with Jon Lord introducing the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra from Bucharest and director Paul Mann before the concert then starting with "Pictured Within" with Miller Anderson singing. This was really spectacular - the CD version didn't have the same pathos and it didn't give me these feelings!

Then the rest of DP appeared, except for Ian Gillan. Steve Morse, with one of his classic T-shirts without sleeves, was positioned on the left, near Lord. On the right were Ian Paice and Roger Glover, both with their unfailing bandanas. In the middle of the stage, there he was, the little black-haired, black-dressed man: Ronnie James Dio. He was welcomed with an ovation (especially from the first row by some screaming girls). So the Deep-Dio-Purple played "Sitting In A Dream" (with Paice using brushes and Miller Anderson playing guitar with Steve Morse) and then the strange-nice-terrible song "Love Is All". Then came the time for two Dio songs, played, obviously, by DP: "Fever Dreams" and the famous (although not for me, I had never heard it before, unfortunately) "Rainbow In The Dark" (with the girls in the first row singing all the time).

After the triumphal exit of Dio, Lord (perfectly dressed for the special occasion in white jacket, black trousers and shirt, his white brilliant hair gathered) introduced the following song: "This is an old instrumental song (from "The Book Of Taliesyn" of October 1968).We wrote it in 1968 when I was about 9! And you Paice, how old were you? Five? Yes Five. This is called "Wring That Neck" and let me introduce the best drummer in the world, Ian Paice!" (And this is simply true, obviously, after the tragic death of Bonzo!!!!)

Then finally came HE, the JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Ian Gillan!!!! Dressed in an awful way.....but what a voice!!! So the complete Deep Purple attacked with "When A Blind Man Cries"!!!!! I couldn't believe that!!! One of my favourite DP songs played live, with an orchestra too!!!!! Really touching! From "Machine Head", one of the greatest DP albums, one of the greatest DP songs (according to me, obviously)..... and what a play of lights!

After this came a Steve Morse solo called "Guitar", or something like that, in which he made some strange harmony with his guitar that reminded me of Brian May's guitar in "Who Wants To Live Forever". Then came this magnificent song that I've never heard before, a really really beautiful song, and really strong, with that guitar riff combined with Lord's keyboards, called "Fools". I have now discovered with the internet (my best compliments to Deep Purple for their site The Highway Star: It's really beautiful, interesting and complete) that it's from "Fireball". The song after this one was "Ted The Mechanic" from '96's "Purpendicular" album; sincerely I don't like this song, but this version with the orchestra was really stronger than ever, I came to like it!

Then they played "Pictures Of Home" and Gillan said that he wrote this song a long time ago, he couldn't remember when. This song, as in the CD, was reeeeeally strong. After an orchestral introduction it really exploded with a spectacular drum attack. This was followed by "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" and it was quite good (obviously most of the people there, even my friends, wanted to hear more, if not only, Deep Purple classics; but this wasn't a classic Deep Purple concert).

And then came the moment for the "Concerto For Group And Orchestra" which was introduced by Gillan who sat on stage a few metres (yes I'm Italian and I don't know anything about inches, yards, gallons, feet... left drive...) from the first row (someone even shook his hand). He explained that this three movement concerto was written by Jon lord in 1969. Ian Paice gave a show exhibiting a spectacular drum solo, and just to show how great he is he played a roll on the snare with ONE and I say only ONE hand!!!!!!!!!! A one handed drum roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He can do with one hand what I can't even manage to do with two!!!!! In his solo he put the 'classic' crescendo roll accented by the bass drum (what a powerful sound it had, it was a 26"!!!), and the as much 'classic' (but reaaaaaaly difficult!) roll triplets on toms, bass drum, and floor tom! What to say about Paice? Absolutely fantastic - nowadays the best drummer in the world as I have already said. He is, along with John Henry 'Bonzo' Bonham, Tommy Aldridge and Cozy Powell (I only learnt of his death yesterday evening before going to the show, I remain really shocked!), my favourite drummer of all time.

After this long part of the show came the cream of the concert (as I said to my friends that were still waiting for Deep Purple, the original, you know.....) DP started playing their biggest songs and they gave me a present by playing "Perfect Strangers", one of my favourite songs from them (see "When A Blind Man Cries"....)!!!!!!!!!!!! I have imagined how it would be were they to play it, but it was really stronger than I could have imagined, the Zeppelin-esque Kashmir middle part really increased in power with the string section!

Then came a part in which Steve Morse and the band jammed playing some milestones of hard rock music such as "Back In Black" (crowd ovation), the solo and final part of "Stairway To Heaven" (down on knees) and two other songs that I didn't recognize.

The final, and there's no need to say more, was: "Smoke On The Water", a hymn, with all the crowd singing it, and with the classic interruption of the group just before the end making only the crowd sing! As in the (Royal Albert Hall) CD the second verse was sung by Ronnie James Dio (who re-joined the group for the end of the show). As this finished and the crowd was giving an ovation, the orchestra started dismantling all their instruments.

Then they all went out, but the public continued to sing "oh-ooho-ohoohoho-oho oho" so Paice reappeared behind his drums and started playing, and was then joined by the band for "Black Night", again the crowd singing along. Everybody was then waiting for "Highway Star" (I had seen on the internet that sometimes they played it) and when some star-lights appeared behind the stage there was an explosion of joy from the public! Paice started with the accented sixteen quadruplets on the snare, followed by Steve on guitar, then Roger, and Lord, and finally by Ian's voice: "Nobody's gonna take my car, I'm gonna race it to the ground, nobody's gonna beat my car, it's gonna break the speed of sound..." again sang as one with the audience, into ecstasy, so into ecstasy that Gillan got a hold of the conductor's baton and "conducted" the crowd.

Well, what to say.... finally I've heard Deep Purple live, this was the first time I've heard one of their concerts and I must say that even if this wasn't a classic DP concert, I enjoyed it a lot, it really gave me strong emotions. Obviously I hope to re-hear them in a 'normal' show where they display all their power and talent in what I consider some of the "milestone of hard rock" songs, as they are nowadays the kings, the lions of it.

I was born musically with hard rock listening to Aerosmith's "Big Ones" and Guns 'N' Roses' "Appetite For Destruction"; these two CD's are the first CD's that I ever heard (yes I was born musically a little bit late, but never mind). Then I discovered Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Well Led Zeppelin, or what remains of them, I heard a couple of years ago, always in Milan, when Jimmy Page and Robert Plant gave us a fantastic concert playing all the greatest songs of Led, then this summer I went to Plant's Priory of Bryon concert, but it wasn't so spectacular. Now (yesterday evening) I've seen DP, so what I need is for Black Sabbath to come to Italy and I'll have seen the three groups, that in the 70's, didn't give birth to heavy music, they simply were it! And all these new groups that are playing hard music, they'd just have to get down on their knees and kiss the feet of each member of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath! (in order!)

Finally a few considerations about the concert:
1 - Why didn't Deep Purple play "Child In Time" with the orchestra? If there's a song (along with "Perfect Strangers") of DP that seems to be made for being played with an orchestra it is "Child In Time"! The whole crowd from yesterday evening was waiting for it! If DP had played it, they would have really brought down the Forum!!!!!
2 - Why the fuck was there that percussionist whose only role was to hit a cymbal a couple of times during the concert? For all the time he didn't play (all the concert!) he joked with the sticks, moving them as if he would be playing the drums! [He's part of the Romanian orchestra and he did play! Ed.]
3 - I forgot one thing: the Forum was more than full. Not only were all the seats occupied, but even the stairs and the gallery! I didn't think that Deep Purple (with the orchestra!) could fill the Forum ........compliments! HARD ROCK IS NOT DEAD, IT IS STILL ALIVE AND FIGHTIN'!

If anybody wants to mail me, just to talk about Purple or hard rock, or if anybody liked my review and wants to save me from a future career as a lawyer, or as Peter Tosh used to say, lyer, please mail me at foxandfox@tin.it.


Pietro Fox

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