Sydney show + meet & greet
As I walked up to the venue, I felt a nervous excitement even though I had seen them the night before in Melbourne. There they had rocked the Rod Laver Arena and even though they left me most satisfied, I was still hungry to experience some more.
I wasn't sure how the guys would pull up after giving so much the night before, especially coming off having played the night previous to that in another state. It didn't seem to have affected them, because the Sydney crowd were treated to a real show!!
If it was at all possible, the band lifted an extra notch from the night before in Melbourne. I think a lot of it had to do with the way the band rode the wave of enthusiasm the Sydney crowd displayed. I always thought that Melburnians were outgoing and expressive fans and difficult to outdo. But the Sydney crowd really showed us Melburnians up. It was a real delight for me personally, as it must have been for the band, to see the crowd really show and display their appreciation and affection for the band and their efforts.
At the Melbourne show this time as well as the one recorded for the DVD release in '99, the crowd on the floor had this annoying habit of remaining seated for most of the show to, almost obligatorily, standing only for the big name songs. It must be almost deflating for a band giving their all up there on stage to see limited crowd response.
But in Sydney, even though there were sections on the floor that were reluctant to stand, I was fortunate to be in a large and enthusiastic section of crowd on the floor that were on their feet for most of the show. While this section and those that occasionally joined in, danced and sang their way throughout the show, I think the band really fed off this energy and produced something special. So much so that it envoked an unrehearsed (and almost emotional) comment out of Gillan that it was one of the best "Smoke On The Water" sing-alongs that he'd heard. And I agreed - good on ya Sydney!
On this night, Ian went for his screams and like the Melbourne show seemed really relaxed and to be enjoying himself. So relaxed that he did the entire show barefoot and moved freely about the stage as well as providing warm and light hearted banter between songs.
An inspired and lively Steve Morse really went for his solos and was a real standout performer. He's fitted into the band so well that it seems destiny brought about the union. On top of that a real gentleman - more later.
Jon Lord was pretty animated and also went for his solos as well as for some of those squealy high pitched sounds he used to extract out of his keyboards from yesteryear. Paicey and Glover were also enjoying their time out there on stage and it showed through their playing as they were solid and ever reliable as usual.
The set was exactly the same as the one in Melbourne, but they left out "'69" at the Sydney show. They opened with "Woman From Tokyo", then powered into "Ted The Mechanic" which has now firmly entrenched its place as a Purple classic. The rest of the set was pretty similar to what they've been playing of late, with a couple of exceptions.
"Mary Long" was a real unexpected surprise and I wasn't over enthusiastic when it was announced, but the band really made it rock. But the real highlight was their mind blowing treatment of "Fools". I've spent practically my whole life waiting to hear them play this live (as well as "Bloodsucker", but this has already been realised). If the guys read this, I hope I speak for a lot of fans, but if you're looking to revive an oldie for the set, you guys must do "Hard Lovin Man". This is easily one of the best songs ever written by you guys, I can only dream of how this classic would go down live...
All in all, the band seemed a lot more relaxed than the last time I saw them in Melbourne when the show was being filmed for DVD release. They were simply brilliant and they never cease to please. As usual, the show had it all - a blend of raw power, beautifully created slower moments with a feast of blistering soloing. They really know how to stage a show like no other band.
On another note, I'd just like to mention how pleasant the guys were to meet at the in-store appearance Ian, Roger and Steve kindly made it there the following day. There were no superstar attitudes to contend with. Ian even extended his hand out to shake to greet fans before some of the more nervous fans remembered to put theirs out. The guys were extremely gracious and approachable, and I walked away having had an even greater opinion and respect for them, not only as rock heroes, but also as true gentlemen.
Long may they rock, and I hope they make the trip again Down Under!!!