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

Madrid, 20-10-00; Palacio de Deportes

Despite the fact that there were 'slight changes' in the setlist, at no other concert I've ever attended before, was I able to experience a historic moment of music! It left me speechless for hours, which is very rare for me. However I will try to share some of my memories.

The venue was very crowded, though it's not been totally sold out. I guess there have been about 8000 people. This Palacio is one of those huge places, where you could walk around, without disturbing anybody, and without missing the splendid view or sound. The fragrance in the air was very herbal, people passing around pot and liquor all the time.

The Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) entered the stage first, welcomed with a warm applause, as well as the brass section Side Door Johnnies (Gillanism) and very much so the backing vocals Backstreet Girls as well. The same happened to the orchestra technician and Mickey Lee Soule whilst doing their final check. As Paul Mann, Miller Anderson and Jon Lord appeared - again tremendous ovations!

Jon Lord (wearing a white jacket over black shirt & pants) started his gentle introduction of the RPO & PM, he also announced these "slight changes" in the set, he looked a little upset having to say this. He mentioned that there would be some quiet parts, but in the end we'd be rocked "until we're deaf...!"

Finally he introduced "Pictured Within" (applauded) featuring MA.
"Pictured Within"
While PM was conducting the RPO at the intro, MA did so with the audience in order to (successfully) calm them a little... As he started with "Here be friends..." the crowd replied with some gentle clapping. General note: with the best intention, spanish audiences don't hesitate to give spontaneous ovation when they feel like it! The people really liked this tune, JL then said something like "this was just for the ones, who don't have a fear for silence", the crowd seemed to understand him...

Then came Ronnie! The crowd went wild for him... He brought sun glasses and a black hat, gave them to PM. The band started playing a theme from "Blues Brothers", RJD began to sing, ending in "...'caus' he is PAUL MANN!" Great laugh, good surprise!

"Sitting In A Dream", "Love Is All", "Fever Dreams", "Rainbow In The Dark"
The two RG songs were really starting to lift the audience, but of course, the 'real' Dio tunes gave them what they wanted from RJD. Ronnie himself visibly enjoyed having such a luxurious 'supporting' band. All in all, his act did anything but divide the crowd - he was just taken as a part of the DP family!

"Wring That Neck"
JL now introduced this instrumental, talking about the early days of DP in '68 and his companion of all purple times "featuring Ian Paice, for my money, best I've worked with...!" The sax solo got the excitement of the Madrilenians, who definitely enjoyed this version.

Well, the awaited show-master entered his stage. Good mood, fancily dressed, strongly applauded. He extended his personal "good evening" to both RPO and the audience. I might have mixed the order, but I think it's been the following: They started right away to "benefit from the presence of such an orchestra of fine musicians..."

"When A Blind Man Cries"
Intro like on "Live At The Olympia 96", (the classical piece from the "Platoon" soundtrack). This song is definitely just made for being played with an Orchestra!

"Ted The Mechanic"
IG tells this "napkin-man-called-Ted-he-was-a-mechanic" story, you never get tired of. The people rocked it as a classic tune. Funny to see many of the RPO and PM from his podium grooving with the pure band music, tapping their feet, waving their bows, more or less slightly banging their heads. Especially the 'big brother' on the drums turned out to be bouncing around all the time!

"The Wild Dressed Guitar"
SM featured a piece together with the RPO, IG introduced it like this. It's amazing to see how our American friend is practicing this harmonic give-and-take of inspiration with the other four, especially with JL. He totally excited the spanish audience.

How pleased was I that they played this! It was a very impressive performance, especially IG's interpretation of the lyrics. To me, it appeared a little inconsequential, that JL played the cello solo part as synthesized, although there were some picturesque cellists in the RPO. ["Picturesque?" He he... :-) Ed.]

"Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming", "Pictures Of Home" ("thank you")
We've only known these songs in their '& Orchestra' version for one year? Amazing, touching, splendid... Supreeeme! What I appreciate about this part of the event, is the mixture of with and without orchestra. It helps to enjoy both the preciously orchestrated songs and the classically rocked. (Where else is such a crossed correlation that true?!)

"The Concerto" -slightly changed
Well, finally IG, announced the most significant of the "slight changes": They left out "The 2nd Movement"!!! Knowing about the trouble that hadn't ceased during the quieter parts of this special tour, I was purplexed: Disappointed, as I especially like "The 2nd Movement"; angry, as some less relaxed and more intolerant, supposedly fans of Purple having finally succeeded in defeating the music itself; Sorry for Jon Lord, as he must have suffered the most. Sorry also for the friendly Spanish audience. I can hardly think of any better educated people in arts and culture and more attentative during perfomances. They proved the latter during the two movements: Whistling and swinging within the orchestral parts; Clapping hands in anticipation, when the rhythm allowed this; Rocking instantly with the band in its parts. After each movement, especially after the third, they strongly rewarded JL's magnificent opus with a big ovation. The RPO performed their parts pretty well, with respect to the unusual touring stress.

Encores before the encores:
"Perfect Strangers" To me the orchestrated version of this song is its outstanding best! And yet another example of how to philharmonize a rock song, release it as a single!!!

"Smoke On The Water"
IG said "this is up to you, Steve", when he started his 'radio show' recalling Led Zep, Jimi Hendrix, etc, performed by everybody, (even RJD knows his lyrics now...:-)), what a picture, scanning all 360 degrees inside the Palacio. What a finale...!

Encores: "Black Night", "Highway Star"
With the RPO having left the stage, our heroes came back to give us some more hard rock. This was the better part of the 'slight changes'. Some of the RPO waited beside the stage, watching DP, taking pictures (to unsettle the security...;-)), the 'big' drummer and the curled blond background singer (she's just rocking gorgeous!) danced right away...

Like me, people couldn't leave the place for minutes. It was just too precious, incredible, undescribable, what happened in front of our eyes and ears in the past 2 1/2 hours, to enter the world outside again. Outside a Palacio of music, the music of Deep Purple.

Now I know, what Stathis meant by saying "This is what Deep Purple is all about."

Long live Deep Purple and thank you, especially Jon!

Christian M. Siegler

[ reviews | the highway star ]