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

Review of the Albert tour Concerto in Stuttgart, Germany on Tuesday, October 17th 2000

Hallo Highway Star and fans,

As usual, the Deep Purple tour once more made its way to Stuttgart, Germany. What an historic event! Unique, fantastic, unforgettable. I can't explain. Superb, as Ian would say. You shouldn't miss this for anything. A first class pleasure.

The Schleyer-Halle (where almost exactly seven years ago some of "Come Hell Or High Water" was recorded) was sold out. Normally sport events take place there, e.g. the famous six-day bicycle race. Therefore the rim of the hall is inclined (for the race track) and was seated up to the ceiling, which gave the hall a bit of an amphitheater atmosphere.

The orchestra formed the background onstage. The position of the band members was the other way round compared to their usual set-up . This means from left to right (seen from the audience): Miller Anderson (guitar) - three young female backing singers (sometimes supported by Miller Anderson) - Steve Morse - Jon Lord (with organ and grand piano) - Ian Gillan (or Miller Anderson or Ronnie James Dio) - Ian Paice - Roger Glover.

The concert started on time at 8 pm and lasted almost 3 hours. First the orchestra came onstage (after the musicians informally walked around in the hall before and ate sandwiches at the snack bars!), then came Jon Lord, Paul Mann and Miller Anderson. Jon greeted the audience and was warmly welcomed. After introducing Paul Mann and Miller Anderson, he announced, that at first they would play some songs from various solo projects. The setlist was quite different to the RAH-CD. Besides the solo things, they played some DP songs, that hadn't been played for ages.

1. "Pictured Within" - sung by Miller Anderson

Ronnie James Dio, Steve Morse, Roger Glover and Ian Paice entered the stage and were welcomed loudly. Ronnie gave an over one meter tall bee to Paul Mann. Paul explained, that Ronnie said at the beginning of tour, that Paul looked like John Belushi, and since then he's been giving a bee to Paul at all the concerts, but this one tonight was the biggest yet. For those who don't know why: John Belushi appeared in the show "Saturday Night Live" in America dressed as a bee (together with Dan Aykroyd). Belushi had curly hair just like Paul Mann and they really do look a bit similar (thanks, Tina!!!).

2. "Sitting In A Dream" (written by Roger Glover) - sung by Dio, Miller Anderson on lead guitar.
3. "Love Is All" (Glover) - Vocals by Dio, Anderson on rhythm guitar, lead guitar by Steve Morse, with a funny solo.
4. "Fever Dreams" (from Dio's new album "Magica") - very heavy, hard guitar, no orchestra
5. "Rainbow In The Dark" - (from Dio's "Holy Diver")
Steve and Ronnie left the stage, Ronnie was dismissed enthusiastically.

Jon announced "A song written in 1968, when we were five years old". Roger then went to Jon and said something to him. Then Jon explained over the microphone "Roger said he was two then". The audience was very amused (as we all know, Roger eventually is 55, Jon already 58!). Jon introduced the three-piece-jazz-brass-band from Belgium (trumpet, trombone and sax).
6. "Wring That Neck" - great jazz version with orchestra and brass, no guitar. It wasn't as long as in the 70's, but that might not have been possible because of the orchestra. Jon and Ian played wonderful.

Ian Gillan entered the stage almost unnoticed and unrecognized with his back to the audience. Ian let his hair grow to shoulder length again. At the end of the Abandon tour he had it cut short, which looked strange. After he greeted the audience, he was welcomed enthusiastically. Steve came back on stage, too.

7. "Fools" - Roger played no bass here, but rumba rattles! Ian had a tambourin. It seemed like Jon played his part from notes?!
8. "When A Blind Man Cries" - introduction by the orchestra and Steve, brilliant version, simply bombastic.
9. "Ted The Mechanic" - Ian as usually told the story, how he met Ted in a strip bar and that he told him his life story and Ian wrote it down on a napkin.
10. "The Ill Dressed Guitar" - announced like this by Ian. Brilliant solo piece of Steve's with orchestra, but without Jon. Paul Mann danced on his podium and nearly fell into the orchestra.
11. "Pictures Of Home" - Ian explained, that "The song was recorded in Switzerland just after tea time on a Thursday afternoon". Funny intro by the orchestra.
12. "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" - again with the orchestra. Ian told about the creation of this song: The band was on tour in Spain, and Ian found a note on his bedroom table, which unfortunately was written in Spanish. Because he doesn't speak a word Spanish, he went into the bar for a drink. Later that night he found out, that he should have called his wife urgently. Because he didn't but got drunk instead, he felt like screaming.

Then Ian announced the highlight of the evening: "A song(!) Jon wrote in 1969...", "The Concerto". He explained, that the "First Movement" was "a fight between the orchestra and the group", the "Second Movement" was "the beginning of understanding" and the "Third Movement" finally "joy and harmony".

"Concerto For Group And Orchestra" 13. "Movement I" - standing ovations at the end of that part.
14. "Movement II" - Ian came already singing from the background wearing a black suite (did he oversleep his appearance or was it intentional?). [It seems to have been his intention as he did it very often. Probably designed to avoid the crowds breaking into applause at his apperance and thus disturb the music. Ed.]
15. "Movement III" - with Paicie's drum solo (partly with one hand, his head casually resting in the other hand in feigned boredom).

Standing ovation for minutes!!! Absolute brilliant harmony between the orchestra and the band. Again and again long impromptu solos by Jon and Steve, much longer and different to the CD. Steve showed all his tricks and effects, but still absolutely harmonic to "The Concerto". The solos were honoured by applause.

16. "Perfect Strangers" - the crowd was standing from now on and raging (during the first part we sat well behaved). Many fans (those sitting at the end of the rows) rushed forward in front of the stage and danced. The atmosphere was now just like at a normal DP concert. Everybody danced, clapped and sang along. The chairs were in the way now! Ian and the others obviously were exalted by the fantastic mood. "Suupeeeerb! You're fantastic. Amazing!"

17. "Steve's Guitar Solo" - similar to Total Abandon, but not so long and not so many different riffs, but nevertheless with two verses of "You Really Got Me" sung by Ian.
18. "Smoke On The Water" - Dio sang the second verse (to enthusiastic applause), performed with orchestra, brass group, and background singers.

The band and the orchestra left the stage (which took quite a while), while the audience shouted continuously and asked for encores. Finally DP came back on stage. The crowd knew what should come and sang the riff of "Black Night", and Steve finally joined in.

19. "Black Night" - in the middle part Steve played the riff in different variations and let the audience repeat it. Ian mounted Paul Mann's podium and conducted the crowd with Mann's baton.
20. "Highway Star" - played with an extraordinary long intro.

This was the end (unfortunately). Sure I don't need to mention, that the audience danced and headbanged enthusiastically during the last songs. Fantastic atmosphere.

The band was absolutely marvelous. You could see their joy to play (still!). At the beginning (until "The Concerto"), the mood of the audience seemed to be a little cautious and cool, nobody dared to clap during the music; For some time I thought I was the only headbanger in the hall. But this definitely was not because the unusual songs were bad or nobody liked them, but because the audience was seated. After "The Concerto", when everybody was standing, it was as hot as always.

The orchestra was great too, compliments to the elder, honoured men in black (although there were some young and pretty(!!!) girls among them). Paul Mann obviously had a lot of fun, sometimes he danced on his podium like an old headbanger. And Jon was absolutely happy with the performance of his opus.

Certainly the sound of the orchestra could have been better. In my opinion it was too loud and overloaded. While 'too loud' is quite relative, because compared to the band they were too quiet. Especially in the first part you could hardly hear them, particularly when Steve was active. During "The Concerto" it was better. If the beginning would have been more quiet in total (orchestra AND band), the sound would have been much better.

Compliments also to Ronnie James Dio. What a gigantic voice this small, frail man (sorry, Ronnie!) - still - has. As the old rivals obviously got along very well, I don't want to warm up the old dispute, who's got the best voice, Dio or Gillan (or Coverdale?). Actually only Ritchie Blackmore was missing in this big family. But what would have happened to Steve then? When I'm serious, I like Steve much more, and what Ritchie does nowadays, hasn't got much to do with Deep Purple or Rainbow. My appraisal for the courage to dare this unusual combination. It's great, that DP plays songs by others.

All together, it simply was Suuupeeeeeerb: You shouldn't miss it for anything. An unforgettable event.

Finally an insider tip for the professional fans/headbangers: Get your seat near the aisles - and at the first notes of "Perfect Strangers" rush in front of the stage and rock! Steve and Roger throw their plectrums into the crowd at the end as usual. Paice threw his drum sticks and this time even a drum head, it flew quite far like a frisbee.

P.S. A critical remark about the audience: It was quite disturbing, that a lot of people came late and had to make their way through the rows. PLEASE arrive on time and don't miss a single note of this great event. Much more disgusting I found that people got up during the concert to get something to drink. Not only do they miss parts of this fantastic event, they also disturb the others, who want to listen in peace. PLEASE DON'T DO THAT!

Keep on rocking

Helge Mayschak

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