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

Rotterdam review

Luckily the announced two storms were over; We just had a lot of rain during our trip to Rotterdam. We got very early in the afternoon, and as nothing seemed to be happening at the Ahoy... After a few beers in de Cambrinus - where we were last time too, and an excellent supper - we took the metro back to the Ahoy, where my car was parked.

For my 14th Deep Purple concert (also 7 Purple related ones, and different blues gigs), I was very very disappointed at our seats for Fl 921/2! We were at the last row! Well, at least for once I had a good view of the audience and the whole thing. But I did not come over here to see the audience, I came here to see Deep Purple with the orchestra! Normally I am always at the front; At the concerto in Antwerp I sat on row three. I did not expect to be that far from stage. I really can't shut up about this. And this for the most expensive gig I've seen! I wonder where the places would be at 75 Fl, in the cellar? No, I can't shut up about it. Luckily I did not bring my camera, because I don't have a good telephoto lens.

At 19:40 the hall with the 'cheap' standing places was 3/4 full, and the expensive sitting places were 3/4 empty. 19:55 the lights went down in the hallway behind me and a few minutes later the people of the orchestra took their places. Johan was browsing through the beautiful DP book he bought; Very beautiful indeed. I didn't buy a t-shirt. My wife often tells me that I have enough - 25 DP-related T-shirts - and for once I agreed. I bought one in Antwerpen anyway, but next time...

20:03 the lights went completely down and the whistling and applauding began. (Jon:) "Good evening once again. How are you? Just a few words before we begin. I ask a warm welcome for a Dutch composer Marco de Goey!" Lots of applause. "One of Holland's finest lads! Tonight it's gonna be a bit different, we have a few lads on stage. A song with someone who will be singing the words - I can't sing myself: Miller Anderson! Thank you." I could see, far away, some small people on stage, I saw a little man playing a little piano... Did I mention already that I am far away from stage?

"Pictured Within". Johan went away to fetch us some beers. He did not care to listen to it. I still like it. Sometimes the violins drowned out his voice. I must say that the sound was great. Miller Anderson was singing at ease with one hand in his pocket. This song drew wild response from the crowd and received a huge applause. (Jon:) "Don't forget him. Here are a few friends, including Mr. James Dio!" Lots of Applause. Steve played the intro to "Sitting In A Dream". Miller did the guitar solo - I did not notice that in Antwerp. Again a big applause.

(Dio:) "That was a song by Roger Glover, from the "Grasshoppers Ball". You all know it well here in Holland." "Love Is All". Pity I can't see the female chorus very close, who were having a ball themselves. The waltzing part, in Antwerp done by Steve Morse, was drowned out here by the orchestra. Pity; Loved the way that sounded in the Sportpaleis. Maybe it was the acoustics in the Ahoy. By now the whole place was packed. Again the crowd responded to this song with a huge applause.

"This is from the newest CD from me, "Magica" - "Fever Dreams"." This was something completely different than the stuff we heard before. Morse seemed to be having a great time next to Dio. Again a big applause; in fact every song this night was thanked in that way. "Rainbow In The Dark". It looked like there were less Dio-fans in the hall than in Antwerp. My - bad - place had the advantage that I could overlook the audience. It was nice to see all those fists going up in the air at the same time. Thanks to earlier reviews, I tried to listen to Jon's Hammond, but could not hear it.

(Jon:) "Ronnie James Dio, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you Ronnie; see you later. This will take us back to 1968. Yes, there was a 68. We were all there. This features my brother-in-law. One of the finest drummers in the world. Ian Paice! Ladies and gentlemen!" This is the third time I've seen this song performed in that way live, and it was even getting worse. Sorry, but I don't like that kind of music, with all those trumpets and stuff. Though it helped concentrating on Ian's drumming. I didn't even like the sound of Jon's Hammond. It was all too jazzy for me. We were treated with a small but furious drumsolo. Despite my not liking it (who am I anyway?) the crowd went loopy for it.

(Ian Gillan, in a soft voice:) "Hello. We'll talk later. Here is a song - "Fools"." This was one of the highlights in Antwerp, and it still was here. But something was quite wrong during Jon's quiet part, can't tell what, but it seemed wrong. Steve's solo was a blinder, but it looked like a complete different song in a song. It had nothing to do with the actual "Fools". Though it was awesome! Sure would like to have had Ritchie (who?) a go at this one, live! The place went nuts!

Ian introduced the orchestra and Paul Mann. "Here is a blues thing: "When A Blind Man Cries"." (A few days ago the Belgian radio did a poll: What tune would you like they play on your funeral. I must say that this one would be great.) The intro by the orchestra and Morse was formidastic. I had the impression that it was performed faster than usual. A real highlight! Jon's solo was fabulous.

"Superb! Hello! OK, a little rock 'n' roll now. It is based on the story of a guy, it fits on a napkin. "Ted The Mechanic"." The chorus girls were swinging their... Roger Glover was dancing with the Horns. Paul Mann was dancing too. Again lots of applause. "This was "Ted." A true story..." (bla bla bla, could not write it down, he talked too fast). "The Well Dressed Guitar". Ingenious, but too short, would love to hear that performed the long "Difficult To Cure" way. Another highlight which was (again) awarded with an ovation.

"We now have the opportunity to do something quite different from "Machine Head". The overture of the orchestra." "Pictures Of Home". Beautiful intro by the orchestra and Jon. Steve's solo was brilliant and long (yes!). This song really got the crowd excited.

"I had a note on the bedside table from my wife. I couldn't read it, so I went to the pub and things went downhill fast afterwards." "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming". Magnifique! As far as I'm concerned Deep Purple can keep the girl singers in the band! After this marvellous song Jon and Steve shook hands.

"Just a few moments to tune up. We're gonna do a song of a battle between a band and a orchestra." Lots of applause. The "Concerto" started at 21:25. I heard lots of rumour about the quiet bits, but - to my surprise - there were no morons shouting. Good point for the Dutch! I must say that I still prefer the London Symphonic Orchestra, they sound better to me, more filled. I still like Ritchie's soli better, maybe because I heard it that way during all these years (the first time I listened to the "Concerto" I was 14, now I am 42).

Sometimes, one could see the shadows of Paul Mann or Jon Lord on the curtains, it was nice seeing it that way, they were like puppets on a string. After Jon's solo came a very heavy solo from Steve. It was breathtaking! This was much better than the album version! Then he did his usual solo - which had nothing to do with the "Concerto" and that we heard him doing lots of times, but still stunning. I started really appreciating the Dutch audience, cos no one screamed. I should be very surprised and disappointed if they would not play "The Second Movement".

At one moment I noticed that one guy did the cymbal things, and a moment later he passed his cymbals to some one else to do the bashing. Wonder why. This "First Movement" was awarded with a huge ovation. Then suddenly: no "Second Movement"! They went directly into the third one. I could not help wondering why. I think this must have been one of the most peaceful audiences they've had on this tour. It was a real pity, because I really like that movement.

One of those percussion guys was air-drumming during Ian's splendid drum solo. I did not clock it, but I had the impression it lasted longer than in Antwerp or the RAH. He ended his solo with the cowbell thing, as we are used to hear it on the album. No one-handed drumming this time. That same air-drumming percussionist was a few moments later playing air-violin! The too short "Concerto" ended at 21:58. "Romanian Orchestra I thank you! Welcome back Paul Mann, and of course the man who wrote it, Jon Lord!"

"Perfect Strangers" was very impressive. I loved the end notes of Steve's guitar. For the next song Steve did a guitar change. "I want to say hello to my friend Anderson and the Backstreet Girls. Please show your appreciation to the Physical Horns!"

Steve started his - by now - infamous intro to "Smoke On The Water". He teased us with some snippets of "Whole Lotta Love" (I think); "Stairway To Heaven" and then "You Really Got Me". Gillan was even singing the words to that. During the song (the band and orchestra were smoking at this point) one could clearly hear the Horns. This way it reminded me of the version Pat Boone did. The orchestra was, here in Rotterdam, more audible than in the other places I've been to.

22:13 "You are wonderful! Fantastic! Bye bye." The crowd was shouting "We want more..." There was very heavy whistling when the orchestra left their places. At 22:19 Ian Paice returned, followed by Lord, Morse and Gillan. During Little Ian's intro, everybody was chanting to "Black Night". Quite strange now, with all the empty seats behind them. Gillan was conducting the audience during the instrumental part with Paul Mann's baton. This was a straight out performance of the song. All in all these guys rocked.

"Highway Star". During Steve's intro, Gillan was helping him la "Iron Man". Those two last songs would have been majestic with the orchestra helping them out, but this was, even without them, a celebration of music! At 22:33 happy hour was over ;-(

Because it was in Holland - where "Child In Time" always is in the top three of the top 100 (as it is in Belgium) I kinda expected them to do that song. There were some more songs I would have liked to hear with the orchestra: "April" and "Knocking At Your Backdoor". I have seen the "Concerto" now three times and I have seen three different shows (who said that without Blackmore all the concerts would sound the same?). The best one was Antwerp. If I could make a compilation out of it, it would be the Antwerpen gig, with Steve's Rotterdam solo of "The First Movement", and this all performed in the fantastic RAH.

Michel De Pourcq

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