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

Front row at the Ahoy

Being the first ones to arrive in Rotterdam outside Ahoy, my girlfriend and I knew we would have first row access ... as usual!

Meeting Deep Purple is for me getting cosier and more relaxed over the years. Back in 1993 I knew Deep Purple as the rock stars who wrote the infamous and timeless "Child In Time" and "Smoke On The Water". Nowadays I see them more as humana, which may be the result of all those bar chats with big Ian, about electricians, screaming and other common days affairs.

At a comfortable eight o'clock Jon Lord announces the beginning of this nice evening. Polite and thankful as he is, Jon asked Marco de Goey to show himself to the public. As most of the people should know, Marco has written the disappeared notes of the "Concerto For Group And Orchestra" again, initially for the performance last year's september in the famous Royal Albert Hall. Then Jon promised us a musical evening filled with tender moments, and songs of heavy rock, leaving us in the end ... deaf. Oh no mister Lord!

The fragile "Pictured Within" starts, with the warm voice of mister Miller filling the noisy Ahoy arena. Through my earplugs I hear some guys yelling, somewhere, just again like at the Royal Albert Hall. Please, let me be some heavy-weight body-builder standing next to them; I would shut 'em up. Or let those loud guys lean into the Public Amplifying so they will be quiet ... at least for the rest of their lives.

Ronnie James Dio appears for his songs: "Sitting In A Dream" and "Love Is All" from the "Butterfly Ball" album and more of his own heavy stuff: "'Fever Dreams" from his new album "Magica" and the always appetizing "Rainbow In The Dark". Yes, I liked the performance of Ronnie so much! He is indeed a big part of the DP family.

From DP I expected more or less the Royal Albert Hall set list, but that turned out to be different. "Wring That Neck" was performed smoothly; I think it's a big swinger for the orchestra. "When A Blind Man Cries" (finally; I have begged DP for this one!) was played instead of, for example "Watching The Sky". I was glad about this change; So was my girlfriend.

"The Wild Dressed Guitar" was a jam from Steve with the entire orchestra. According to Gillan, this little song was composed very, very recently, actually. It turned out to be a good staccato riff; I wonder what in that case the "Wild Undressed Guitar" will be...

After some cheers Steve Morse indeed had something to say: A longer intro with an almost complete "Stairway To Heaven" (so nice, that melancholic guitar in the intro of this intro) and a talent's test version of "You Really Got Me" (has big Ian ever met Ray Davies in a bar?) which is a very accurate description of the time in which "Smoke On The Water" was first cracked out of Ritchie's Marshall amplifiers.

After a thundering "Pictures Of Home" Ian announced the "Concerto". This fusion between group and orchestra was performed so accurately by the Rumanian orchestra, that it sounded indeed like the LSO. Although the "Second Movement" was not played, it just showed how the first and third part fit together.

At this moment I would like to say something about the physical appearance of our folks: Jon this time without sunglasses seemed to be relaxed, just like the grinning Steve. Roger was sharp as ever; to me he has not changed since '96; Just like his Vigier bass. Little Ian was hammering on his drums like a baby boy is eating his breakfast (have you ever seen this drumming experience?) and Big Ian was very light-footed; Perhaps because he has lost some weight since the Royal Albert Performance?

Then, above all, was the swinging and jumping conductor Paul Mann; What an entertainer! Looking almost like Ian, he was jumping and singing in front of the orchestra, leading even grandma with the violin into a swinging mood. Later on, Ian would take his conducting sticks to sweep them around in almost the same way as Paul Mann did. Except grandma and granddad, where also beautiful blond and dark haired cellist-players (yes, don't deny that you saw them!) in this orchestra, watching Steve as he was playing more sensitive notes on his blue axe.

Further on, we heard a chugging "Ted The Mechanic" and, surprisingly "Fools" from "Fireball". I'd never heard this song live before. "Perfect Strangers" finally urged Steve to take this guitar with the whammy bar for some real serious tremolo work. Sometimes this is so pleasant, you know, just like...

Then it was already time to let my earplugs out; What a relief.

However, after a lot of yelling and shouting in the almost sold out Ahoy there was... the encore, as how this should be. Please, where did I leave my earplugs? A damned loud "Black Night" and "Highway Star" struck through Rotterdam, before anyone could leave. Mister Lord, you kept your promise; I still hear your organ in my eardrums!

Having brought my camera with for the first time, I left you photos taken without flash, so I did not have to leave you ... blind.

Marcel Koning

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