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

Purpled Out!

Itís a little over 36 hours and Iím still in a kind of daze... I actually saw the Deep Purple live in concert! The whole experience was so wonderful that Iím sure any Purple freak will empathize with me and all the little things that one goes through when this awesome experience hits you!

As we, a few of my friends and myself all of us having travelled a good 400 odd kilometers, were on the road to the Palace Grounds we found all the roads barricaded to divert traffic into just one route and just one entrance! It was really exciting to see small innocuously matter-of-fact purple banners in all street corners that read "DEEP PURPLE Entrance through Jaya Mahal Road." When we finally made it there parking the jeep a good kilometer away and trooped in towards the yellow arches put up by the sponsor we found a mass of humanity, some bandana-clad, some with purple dyed hair, the ubiquitous black metal t-shirts... that wafting Eternity-like fragrance of that I always find in rock shows vying for your senses with the dung-like stench of putrid pot!

The long walk to the ticket gate like way in was in many ways reminiscent of the pilgrimage of the incessant salvation seekers! After the frisking we were suddenly squeezed into the wild abandon of Palace Grounds. Sprawling at over 100 acres I hear it has its own lake! There was the giant stage with strobe lights and two giant screens pieced together like ears to that humungous metallic frame!

Just as we merged in to the one raucously chaotic mass that tangled and entangled at will, I was desperately trying to jump in short bursts to have a good glimpse of the stage and the placement of instruments so that I'd know where who would be as they would make in the appearance! That I still didn't see them coming in ultimately is a different story though! I first saw Ian Paice, the drummer almost avuncularly waving at the crowd! Before I come to that, I must tell you how it opened. Pretty irritatingly really! There was this local band that went by the name Thermal And A Quarter and fairly enough even the crowd was not willing to spare a quarter to their brand of music, which was pretentious at best! But then maybe itís always a no-win situation for bands that open and in this case the impatience amongst the crowd was probably exaggerated for all the right reasons! After about 45 minutes of the persistent rock-like noise the guys were promptly middle fingered out of the stage!

A band like DP performing in India is not commonplace by any yardstick. Consider this: The Indian Express reported that there were bogies of people who made their pilgrimage from parts as far flung as the states in the North East and places like Bombay a good 1500 to 2000 km away. I guess now you get an idea of their eagerness, if I may pretty obviously understate it!

Almost as if in a flash after the near half hour of music less pandemonium they were finally there with a Morse intro that lead on to that familiar riff! "Woman From Tokyo" took off in unison with the patently rhythmic crash of Paiceís cymbals and then the chest pounding 300.000 watt Glover bass and Lordís screaming keys jumped in and in no time there was that cultured primal shriek! The barefooted Ian Gillan with an MNC executive hairdo, had signaled the time we were to have! We were crushed by now with the collectively genuflecting crowd that seem to go into a trance-like delirium! But I must quickly add that the whole hassle was worth it right to the last time my toes were stomped upon and my ribcage was ambushed!!

That I knew exactly the set list for the night still didn't take away anything from the concert. I was following this site for the current tour.

The next one was "Ted The Mechanic" with Morse's silken guitar progressions. The lead sprang out so effortlessly! Gillan explained the origins of "Mary Long" and its association with Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford - delightful piece! The Lord showpiece "Lazy" was on next though rather subdued. I was expecting the stomach churning keys but it was a rather pleasent rendition than anything else. "Fools", "Hey Cisco", "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming", "No One Came"... a stream of gems followed.

When Lord played what Gillan described as "inspiring" little did one realise that the delicate Bach-like piece would lead one on to the imperious opening bass of "Perfect Strangers"! It possibly was one of the highlights of the night. In fact the opening of "Perfect Strangers" with Jon Lord playing what I thought was a Bach piece (not sure though!) and then the definitively glorious guitar/key progression with the thudding bass and drums... Can't believe I experienced all that! There was a delightfully playful duet between Gillan and Morse and then Morse and Lord. The duet had followed a Paice one handed roll, so the lyrics were probably concocted impromptu about a guy waking up with a roll under his blanket!

"Black Night", the classic tight riff track had the entire crowd humming the intro. Then there was "When A Blind Man Cries" transformed in to an almost bluesy/funky version! Steve Morse, beyond doubt allayed any fears if he'd match up to the veterans in the band with that single intro to "When A Blin Man Cries" It was one of the most moving exploration on the guitar!

There were banners screaming messages like "All Hail The Gods Of Rock" Well, one must excuse such excesses but it does capture the emotion. The guys come with an awesome reputation as the pioneers of the hard rock genre itself! But Steve was awesome himself! I was wondering how he made the guitar sound like it did many times and it was sounding different on quite a few occasions! There's a wailing guitar lick that he played for "Perfect Strangers" that was mind-blowing!

What struck me was the warmth the band exuded. Couldn't have thought a band that screamed its way into the Guinness as the loudest band in the world had such... almost docile(!)and pleasant mannered members! Ian Gillan was completely appreciative of the audience, which must be more a result of professional culturing rather than anything else I guess! But the 30,000 crowd was rooting for every thing the band did!

When Morse played, what Gillan called an Italian Salad... a guitar medley with a bit of Led Zep's "Stairway To Heaven", Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman", "Itís Now Or Never" (AC/DC?!), a Presley song (not sure again) and then The Riff that any child knows... the skies literally lit up and exploded with firecrackers and burning panel that simply read DEEP PURPLE Ė enough said! It was "Smoke On The Water" and the crowd roared along!

The entire concert was truly awesome but I still had my favourites. "Speed King" was explosive rock! "Perfect Strangers" too was lethal. "Ted The Mechanic" came much earlier on for me to really listen and pay attention to each note. "Black Night" was terrific.

The show ended with the encore on "Hush" and the near supersonic "Highway Star"!

The guys after 30 years are shockingly good! I just can't imagine what they would have been around the time I was born... the "Made In Japan" time!!! Glover, Lord, Paice, Gillan and Morse are probably the next best version after Mark 2. Too bad Blackmore isn't with DP... but honestly I can't believe it that I didn't miss him!

Morse is amazing! Wonderfully talented! This is an amazingly gifted band... if not the Gods Of Rock... certainly Gods chosen ones!!

The ad said "Come and get blessed!" Even by adman standards the hype was on the side of overkill. But I feel quite fortunate to have had the DP experience and am already feeling almost wistful!

C.S.Vallikanth


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