DEEP PURPLE (+) Stockholm, 7 October 2000
I don't usually wait two days before writing these things down. But my computer was in the wrong country... So I don't know if I can properly capture the emotions of the night. I'll try. You already know that this was the best concert I ever went to, right? Ok then, I'll get on with things...
First of all, I need to comment about the audience: They were REALLY ANNOYING. Well, not everyone of course. Most people were with the band 100%. But there's a small minority whom I wish had stayed at home. I hear that there have been good audiences and bad audiences on "The Concerto" tour. Well, I think this was a bad one. There was a lot of noise and a lot of moving around in the arena during the orchestral parts, and I think that's a shame. I feel bad for the band and for the orchestra that they get this kind of negative feedback. I also don't understand how people can have so much money that they can waste hundreds of crowns on a concert ticket (a) without finding out what the concert is and (b) without sitting and at least trying to appreciate it and get some value for their money.
Ok, but apart from a few idiots, I have to say that Swedish people are very nice people and probably the best people in the world. The only thing that I can't understand about them is that they sit down during "Smoke On The Water".
The arena: Well, Jon Lord said, "It's nice to be back in the golf ball." The reason for this is that it looks like a... well... a golf ball. It's an enormous dome, extremely high. And unfortunately it doesn't really have great acoustics. I think the orchestra/band sound balance was probably better than at the Albert Hall, but the overall sound quality wasn't as good.
I thought the crowd was between three and four thousand, but my friends thought more.
Counting seats, I thought the orchestra seemed quite small. But then when they came on stage and sat down, it looked much larger. And we decided that any orchestra with five double basses must be quite respectable.
The set is similar to but different from the Albert Hall set last year. I'm sorry that they left out the songs they did, but I'm very pleased with the songs they added. I think the band performances were possibly better as well. Perhaps because there are less nerves now, perhaps because they are more familiar with the set and the format. I don't know.
I'm not sure whether the orchestra was really into the music in the way that the LSO obviously were last year. It was an extremely competent orchestra, but they didn't seem terribly animated during the rock numbers. Well, except for the percussion section, which danced all through them! (And conductor Paul Mann, of course, whom I will mention later.)
I was almost in tears before anybody even started playing. But I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of my tough Swedish friends, so I held out until "Pictured Within".
Jon did all the talking during the first part of the show, and introduced Miller Andersdon as the vocalist on "Pictured Within". (There was no orchestral piece to start this show. Probably a good thing, with the mood of the audience.) The song is as wonderful and emotional as always. Miller has a gorgeous voice, but I think his voice is better suited by a more 'intimate' level of amplification and not by the arena sound system.
Ronnie Dio is introduced as the next vocalist, and the rest of the band come on to support him. He sings "Sitting In A Dream" and "Love Is All" from the "Butterfly Ball", and his voice still sounds great. Then he says that the band have allowed him to sing some of his own songs. The crowd REALLY like that.
Oh yes, I have a complaint here. Thanks to Ronnie James Dio, for the first time in my life I haven't been able to sing all the words to every song at a Deep Purple concert because he sings "Fever Dreams" from "Magica". I had never even heard it before. But it's really good. So I guess I'll be buying "Magica" now, just in case he tours England. Next he sings "Rainbow In The Dark", of course, because that's the song everybody wants him to sing (well, we know he's not going to do "Stargazer" ;-) ). It's a good version. His voice is really strong. Steve Morse sounds like a good 80's hard rock guitar player. Ian Paice sounds like the song was written for him. Jon sounds out of place on the keyboard parts. I mean, he plays them properly... but it doesn't sound like him. It's kind of disconcerting.
Ronnie leaves and Gillan comes on (wearing a really unsuitable shirt) to sing a few Purple songs. I probably have these in all the wrong order, but they are:
"FOOLS"!!!!! Superb!!!!! Incredible!!!!! A song I never thought I would see live. This is my favourite Deep Purple song. Gillan sounds fantastic. Jon plays Ritchie's cello solo on the keyboard. Which is odd, they have an orchestra there so I don't know why the cello player couldn't play it. The orchestra doesn't play at all on this song. Steve gets a long solo which is... well, if you like Steve Morse you'll like it, if you don't then you probably won't. The only problem I have with it is that it's too 'happy' for the tone of the song. Otherwise, it's excellent.
"When A Blind Man Cries." This is my favourite Deep Purple song, ever. The version is very similar to the version played on the "Purpendicular" tour, but with an orchestral accompaniment. Steve and Jon lead into it with the same classical piece... which I completely forget the name of (it's on "Live At The Olympia", if anybody wants to have a listen and let me know the name). For me, Steve is the star of this song. I might have mentioned that this song on the "Purpendicular" tour made me realise that Steve Morse is the second greatest guitar player in the history of the universe. Well, I still think that. He plays beautifully on this song. I wish they would put this in the set list of every concert for the next hundred years.
"Pictures Of Home." This is my favourite Deep Purple song. This version is the same as the Albert Hall version, with the same orchestral prelude.
"Ted The Mechanic." Again very similar to the Albert Hall version.
"Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming." Yes!!! My favourite Deep Purple Song of all time. I love this song and it sounds great and my only complaint is that Steve should have played for another ten minutes.
Ian introduces a new instrumental, written by Steve just for this tour. It appears to have an ever-changing title but tonight it's called "The Ill Tempered Guitar". Which I think is just about the cleverest song title I have ever heard. (Stick with this one, Steve.) Anyway, it's an instrumental for guitar and strings. It's very very good. It's very baroque, complex, and the guitar playing is stunning. Then the mood changes and bass and drums join in. It's just very very good. Gillan's introduction for it was: "Cop this." For the benefit of non-English people: "Cop this" is a British expression which loosely translates as: "Listen to this and you will astounded, amazed, impressed, and generally bowled over."
Ian Paice plays "Wring That Neck" with a horn section (saxophone, trumpet, trombone, introduced as The Belgians.) Similar to the Albert Hall version. Except I think he was drumming better. But he gets better every time I see him.
At last... "The Concerto"...
Well, once more I am stuck for what to say about "The Concerto". If you know the music there is little I can add. If you don't know it, I can't describe it. It's an incredible composition, not just for the blending of rock group and orchestra, but purely as a piece of modern symphonic music it's one of my... no, absolutely my favourite composition.
It seems that all the group's solos were extended in tonight's performance. Certainly they were all different to what we know. Steve didn't even attempt to play like Ritchie (as he did in places at the Albert Hall). Instead, he was purely Steve Morse, which I think is a good thing. Jon played very aggressively, particularly in the first movement solo, really attacking his organ. I wonder if he was angry at the poor audience reaction and that coloured his playing, or if he was deliberately playing in a style that he thought this particular audience wanted to hear? I don't know, but it made for some excellent musical moments.
A word about Paul Mann: I don't understand conducting, so I can't say whether he was good or bad. But it seems to me that conducting a symphony orchestra when your soloists are making things up as they go along and you never know how long they might play for, well that can't be easy. Therefore, I have to assume that Paul Mann must be a Very Great conductor. And he obviously enjoys the music so much, I mean, the rock songs, not just "The Concerto". I admire him for appreciating both styles (which is what the concert is all about).
Ian Paice is a superhuman musician and is the star of "The Concerto".
The show ended with two more Purple songs. Can you remember a year ago when we were speculating about the set list for the Albert Hall? I said I didn't mind what they played as long as the played "Perfect Strangers". And they didn't :-( Well, tonight they did.
"Perfect Strangers" is my favourite Deep Purple song of all time. No, really, I mean it this time. And this version, with orchestra, is stunning. Breathtaking is the word, I think. The middle dum-duh-duh-dum riff sounds like it was written for an orchestra. It's brilliant. I hope this is recorded somewhere.
Everybody comes back on stage for a last song. Well, several songs really. Steve leads the band through a few classics: "Stairway To Heaven" (yes really -- and Steve is better than you-know-who), "Sweet Home Alabama" (with Dio singing) and "You Really Got Me" (with Ian singing). And then the most classic rock song of all time. In its proper place, ending the concert, Dio sings the middle verse as at the Albert Hall but really it's sung by everybody, as it should be. LOUDER I CAN'T HEAR YOU.
Thank you and goodnight... I have jet lag... Thaaaaaaaaank Yeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwww.