Jans Gilans (balss), Rodzers Glovers (bass), Jans Peiss (bungas), Dzons Lords (taustini), Stivs Morss (gitara) in RIGA, LATVIA 7.11.00
The concerts in Gothenburg and in Stockholm were so fine - something special for sure. Still, I couldn't resist the posibility to fly to Latvia also, where I could hear more of Deep Purple's rock music. It was good to save a couple of days of the summer vacation for the autumn. So, I could escape from the cold and rainy Finland to equally cold and rainy Latvia. I could assist the DP show to Finnish (oops!) to finish their tour. And add my story to the many many stories during the tour. As Roger Glover said, the tour was filled with stories. Every one of the band and crew, every one of the orchestra, all the guests and the choir and the horn section had their own stories. I'm sure so did all the fans that saw their show.
I arrived in Riga already on Monday morning. As I had decided not just to go to the show, I spent the day walking around the town. The old town was quite attractive in spite of the less lovely weather. It was worth of a visit, definitely.
Tuesday was the day! One of my friends from the Finnish DP Fan club (Perfect Strangers of Finland) arrived before noon and shared the excitement before the concert with me. We happened to stand at the right place at the right time. So, Gillan surprised us by inviting us to their press conference. That was an interesting experience. After the press conference we continued the excursion in the old town I had began the day before. With help of two Latvian DP fans that I had met on Monday evening we found a nice place to have our meal. Then shower and change of clothes at the hotel and a 25 minutes walk to the venue. It was an exhibition hall (holding approx 8.000 people).
Quite a lot people were already gathering at the doors as we arrived about at 18.40. At 19.00 the gates were opened and the crowd hurried inside. No use to try to get to the first row. All places there were taken. More and more people came in and finally we decided to stay near the mixers as it was crowded everywhere. Unfortunately the Latvians were quite tall - from my point of view - and some of the tallest decided to stay in front of us. So, I hardly could see anything. Never mind. The place was filled with positive energy so that I forgot that little annoying thing.
One Latvian guy on my right explained to me before the show that this was his first DP show although he admired the band since the seventies. He was so happy that he finally could see his favourites on stage that he just had to share the happiness with someone. I'm glad I happened to be the one because that positive feeling cheered up me too. And he was not the only one who enjoyed the show. The whole see of people was swaying to the music with him - including myself.
The venue was almost sold out and I had a good time. I forgot about the distance, as the music was so powerful. The band really was in good mood. They all enjoyed the positive reactions of the audience.
The set list is as follows. By the way, it was the first time I ever tried to remember all the songs - and I did. Here the two hours and five minutes in a nut shell:
Once upon a time in Tokyo I was searching for some pictures of home - in Rogers pockets that is. But what did I find was a bloodsucker and I felt like screaming! In '69 some smoky fools were watching the sky in the black night. And guess whom did they see? Ted the mechanic! He was offering a beer and telling the story of his life. That lazy and blind man was crying much too loud. Ouch! Fortunately the speed king came to take this perfect stranger to the highway star. [He he... Imaginative set list! :-) Ed.]
The loveliest parts:
My new Latvian friend Jana was interpreting and imitating Gillan's dance steps to me as I could not see too much. I used my imagination to make the picture in my head perfect. I was happy I'd seen the band on stage before. The other Latvian girl Anita told me after the concert that she had been in the first row all the time and enjoyed the show more than any other show ever. The girls were 16 and 17 and their parents were big DP fans, too. But these girls were not the youngest ones. There were kids of less than 10 years - even in the first row.
I'm sure the band was happy to have such a lovely audience at their last show on this tour. Anyway, I suppose it was somewhat sad to stop touring and to say bye-bye to the 'musical family' as Gillan calls the band. However, after this long tour and a tight schedule they have definitely earned a rest.
After the show we had the possibility to see the band at the hotel bar. They were as polite as only they can be. But we didn't want to disturb them too much, as they wanted to say goodbye to each other. Band, managers, technical staff. The atmosphere was warm. And I was thinking, if this is not a family, nothing is.
Thank you Deep Purple + crew + Latvian audience for the wonderful experience - once again.