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

The Wiesner Report

Hello to the band and all DP-Lovers !

36 hours ago I saw Deep Purple at the CCH in my beloved hometown Hamburg, Germany, on Oct. 1st 2000. I'm glad I sat in the fourth row, having a perfect view of the stage and sitting directly in front of Jon's equipment.

As I'm writing this down I'm still a bit confused about this absolutely stunning event. First I have to tell you this really was the best show I ever have witnessed! And I saw a lot, starting with the split groups in the late seventies and then more than 50 times the reunited Deep Purple, beginning with their first concert on english ground (at Knebworth Park 1985) since the Liverpool '76 disaster. Roger Glover once told me in a cafe in Vienna that I'm a crazy boy in a way, but then had to admit that the shows do differ strongly and only about 1 concert of 5 or 10 is a real highlight. And this is what happened 36 hours ago, I'm sooo glad it was here in Hamburg!

The band came on stage 45 minutes late, because three of them had to wait for two hours on the motorway due to an accident (no, DP not involved directly!). As this was announced in the hall, I knew this would be a very special event, because they would have to start right after leaving the car. No probing, no meeting, only playing at once. DP themselves (and especially Ritchie) has proved to deliver their best when something unusual or spectacular happened before a show.

After the George Enescu Orchestra took their seats and received a very warm welcome applause, conductor Paul Mann, the Maestro Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Steve Morse entered the stage, receiving an even bigger welcome from Hamburg.

At first Jon explained in a few words what it's all about (and that this concerto "was written some time before all the Deep Purple madness began..."), then he introduced an old friend of his, Miller Anderson, who would be the singer on the first song "Pictured Within". A very calm song for the beginning which already showed what to expect for the evening, because band and orchestra played especially fine together. And really this should end in a perfect harmony between group and orchestra during the "Concerto" itself. Jon Lord's dream should come true on this particular day.

After this, Miller Anderson went to the backing singers (nice vocals, good looking too!) and stayed there for the rest of the evening, either playing guitar or singing. Ronnie James Dio came on stage announcing they'll do some stuff from a record "written by Roger Glover: The Grasshopper's Feast And The Butterfly Ball". Obviously he forgot it's titled the other way round... Maybe he was overwhelmed by the warm atmosphere the crowd gave band & orchestra. So they went on with "Sitting In A Dream" and "Love Is All", which could well be the final highlight of the whole show! Although I'm sure most of the fans didn't know the songs, "Love Is All" was a real breakthrough this evening. [By the way, I don't like to be called a fan, I simply love Purple's music, I highly appreciate their work and I will forever be sooo grateful to DP for many many nice hours, but I'm not a fanatic. Actually I don't like fanatics of any colour.]

After this it felt as if everybody in the hall were on one wave/level. The communication between audience and band/orchestra was as good as that between group and orchestra and as good as that between the band members theirselves. In German I would say "Der Funken ist total übergesprungen". Only Steve unfortunately seemed to be left out a little bit. Ronnie James Dio proved to be in a very good mood, his powerful voice was as good as in those old Rainbow days. They then did two of Dio's own songs, "Fever Dreams" and "Rainbow In The Dark", and I'm sure the Dio-Lovers (yes, there were some!) were completely satisfied.

They did an astonishing version of Paicey's song, "Wring That Neck", which almost drove me crazy. It was around this time when I saw some of the members of the orchestra moving with Purple's rhythm, even Paul Mann was tipping his fingers rhythmically on his board! At the end of the show even some of the older, conservative looking members were moving to Purple songs. Incredible experience!

Finally Ian Gillan entered to huge applause and proved he was in good shape during "Fools" and then "When A Blindman Cries". For me it seemed as if there was a little competition between him and Ronnie, because Dio had sung so well just a few minutes ago. I rarely heard such good singing by Ian... In fact everybody appeared to be infected by the great mood in the hall and everybody (including the orchestra) wanted to top each other. Wow!

On they went with "Ted The Mechanic" before Steve could show his guitar abilities in "Guitar Strings", where he played some fast licks mainly together with the violins. What a treat for my ears! As I said before: perfect harmony...

Then the orchestra played a very nice intro to "Pictures Of Home", as always including the short but nice bass solo from Roger. It was so marvellous listening to all these songs played together with this great orchestra of Bukarest! After a great version of Purpendicular's "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" Ian Gillan introduced us to the main event of the evening, Jon Lord's "Concerto For Group And Orchestra", and explained the three Movements shortly.

The crowd went completely quiet in anticipation and was rewarded with some of the best playing of the evening. It was during this part that I started crying a little bit for the first time. I simply couldn't hold back the tears watching the Maestro completely concentrated on his playing. He was in his world now. And everybody in the hall was with him. He delivered the finest playing I ever had the pleasure to listen to. I will never feel ashamed for my tears, thank you so much, Jon & all the others!

After the "First Movement" finished, they all received standing ovations from the masses, nobody was in his seat anymore! As the applause didn't fade away, especially Jon looked nervously around: He wanted to go on, sure he too felt that this was a very special evening, he wanted to play! After the "Second Movement" with some brilliant singing from Ian, I felt unable to applaude, just because I was 'stoned' by the experience. I think this is where Ian's voice is at it's best: Just singing, no screaming. Nevertheless they received a big applause, but not as big as before, and only some people standing. I suppose most of the crowd were completely overwhelmed just like me. I simply sat there thinking "And this is not the end, what can I expect next?" Well, next I had to experience the furious finale of the "Concerto". I can't recall exactly, but I think it was here when the one and only Ian Paice did a perfect snare drum roll with only one hand!! I never heard it that well before, even the members of the orchestra who sat directly behind him, looked very very curious and appreciative. Actually during this "Third Movement" there was the most perfect symbiosis between a rock band and an orchestra that you can imagine. And at this point I finally understood what the whole "Concerto" project was all about and what Jon's thoughts were back in the late sixties.

Needless to say they got a tremendous applause at the end, standing ovations for minutes, and this time the members of the Orchestra clapped with their bows on their instruments... When Ian Gillan went to Jon afterwards asking him through the microphone if he also thinks this was the best "Concerto" they ever performed, Jon only nodded his head... Jon then gave one of the older ladies of the orchestra, a violin player, two big kisses on each cheek.

Next up was "Perfect Strangers". I can tell you the parts played together with the strings were another treat! Formerly these parts were mainly played by Jon, but this way it sounded so much more bombastic, absolutely brilliant! Not forgetting the furious brass section.

Then the band left, leaving us alone for a some time. Never did the applause decrease, the opposite was the case. So DP returned to give us an encore. The final song of the show was of course "Smoke On The Water", with Ronnie James Dio singing the second verse (some wrong words, but who cares?). The hall went crazy here, the crowd singing as loud as the music. At this point I guess everybody had finally recognized that this was a very special evening with a very special harmony between group and orchestra. I'm proud for having been there!

I'm a Deep Purple 'fan' since 1975 (when I was 11 years old). I saw a lot of shows and I have my favourite songs and records, but now something has changed: the "Concerto" has become one of my all time favourites too, because I only now realized what Jon Lord wanted to do. And he did. They all did it better than ever.

Thank you Jon, thank you Deep Purple, thank you Paul Mann & the George Enescu Orchestra for this very special evening! I don't want to destroy my memories, but now I'm off for tickets for Frankfurt and Dortmund.

Set List:
"Pictured Within"
"Sitting In A Dream"
"Love Is All"
"Fever Dreams"
"Rainbow In The Dark"
"Wring That Neck"
"When A Blindman Cries"
"Ted The Mechanic"
"Guitar Strings"
"Pictures Of Home"
"Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming"
"Concerto For Group And Orchestra":
"1st Movement"
"2nd Movement"
"3rd Movement"
"Perfect Strangers"
"Smoke On The Water"
Total duration: 2 1/2 hours, due to the long ovations...

Peter Wiesner

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