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


We'd been waiting for this gig for a long time, but finally there it was, and what a gig !!!

I arrived around 7:30 pm in the concert hall Sportpaleis. A terrible anxiety crept up on me: My God, I was saying to myself, they're never gonna get a full house! But by the time the clock was pointing to 8:30, all of a sudden the hall was fully crowded!

Jon Lord, still a great announcer and great composer, had the honour of opening this outstanding concert. He opened the show by introducing Miller Anderson (who you might remember from his days with the Keef Hartley Band, Hemlock, Dave Cousins, T-Rex and many more). Miller, who also plays guitar, is an excellent singer and sang the opening song without any tremble in his voice. And what a voice. It would make Pavarotti blush!

After Miller Anderson, it was time for Ronnie James Dio. And what do you think he presented? You're damn right : "The Butterfly Ball". It was really quite enjoyable to hear these wonderful ballads once again, and live on stage. Dio, still in pretty good shape and still possessing an excellent voice, made it sound fresh, as if it were a brand new song, rather than one he did in a recording session way back in the seventies. Meanwhile, Miller Anderson joined the band onstage and played guitar on both of the numbers they did from this album. What a unique experience. The audience went crazy! We felt as if we had gone back to being youngsters in the seventies!

The following part was a strictly Deep Purple thing, no guests, only DP. Accompanied by the Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann, they played older songs from "Fireball" and "Machine Head", adapted for a grand orchestra. If you have no experience with such gigs, it will affect you in an amazing way. The concert which Jon Lord especially wrote for a group and grand orchestra, took 40 minutes, but it was a great concert.

After this segment, the audience was cheering for more rock numbers, and they soon got them.

However, after only a few more numbers, the gig was done. There was only one encore, and what else could it be than their smash hit "Smoke On The Water"? Steve Morse (guitar) started playing the intro's of very famous numbers, including "Purple Haze", "Jumping Jack Flash", "Whole Lotta Love" and many more, until he finally reached the intro of "Smoke On The Water", and this made the audience even crazier. After this song, the lights went on, which was a shame, because the audience would have preferred more encores. And why didn't Deep Purple play their famous "Child In Time" with the Symphonic Orchestra?

To be honest, it was a great gig, but I had some problems with Steve Morse. Was he the right guy for the job? According to my judgement, no! I preferred guitar players like Gary Moore, Steve Vai or Joe Satriani for this job. Steve is all right, but he misses something. What, I can't define, but Gary Moore, Satriani and Vai are technically far better guitar players than Morse. That's my opinion, but hey, who am I?

Anyway, to conclude this review, it was a astonishing event. Let's hope they will be followed by other bands from that period, such as The Moody Blues, Procol Harum, or Uriah Heep, to name a few.

Alfons Maes

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