I finally saw it!
Deep Purple with an orchestra - this time with New Japan Philharmonic Select Orchestra - that I'd been longing to see, having read reports from the European and South American tours!
The show began shortly after 7pm with an introductrion by Jon Lord. The first number, "Pictured Within", is a totally different kind of music from what one normally hears at a Purple show: a quiet and beautifully melodious song. For most people in the audience, including myself, this is probably the first time they experience a concert with a band and an orchestra playing together, and many seem to be unsure as to how they should be reacting.
Ian Gillan appears onstage in a white costume, looking like an Arab king, and solemnly intones the first line: "Pictured within...", followed by one of the three backing singers (introduced later as the "Back Street Girls") repeating the line. As I generally like classical music, my initial uncertainty quickly disappears and I'm soon absorbed in the music. The woodwind section, which normally doesn't stand out in an orchestra, had quite a few solos here - something that immediately came to my notice, as I used to play clarinet myself. The oboe solo in particular was very memorable for its warm sound.
And then Ian Gillan leaves the stage and tonights guest, Ronnie James Dio, comes on in turn. A few people stand up cheering to welcome him, most of the crowd seem not to know what they should do. I myself didn't bring up my courage to stand up at this point... I'd heard Dio CD's in the past, but this is the first time I get to see him live. Honestly, I'd never thought that he'd be this amazing, I have no idea how such a powerful voice can come out of so petite and slim a figure!! It's such a nice surprise to hear how gently he can sing too. I've nearly forgotten whom I'd come to see tonight, when Deep Purple come on and take over the stage from Ronnie after four numbers. To start with, I'm amused to see an orchestra behind the band (just like a second-rate pop music show on TV!) but then I begin to marvel at the additional dynamics they add to the band's performance. The horn section, "Big Horns Bee", are really funky too, and they show us some thrilling interaction with the band! I've even spotted some members of the orchestra, when they were not playing, clapping to what was going on :-) The first part of the evening ends in a good mood, even though most of the audience have remained seated throughout.
After a 15-minute break, the second part begins. Members of the band appear in more formal, black outfits. Ian Paice is still in the t-shirt he was wearing earlier on. We finally get to hear the "Concerto"! The band occasionally joining the orchestra in such a natural way... the interaction between the keyboard and the orchestra, as well as that between the keyboard and the orchestra, is fantastic, too. The drum solo draws a huge cheer from the audience, and the atmosphere in the hall is pretty heated up. I hope this has shown the group that the Japanese audience can be good.
The second part is concluded with some Purple numbers, and the band leaves the stage, only to return shortly to play "Smoke On The Water". The entire audience stands up, as if to blow off the steam of after having to remain in their seats up to this point. Ronnie joins the band to sing the second verse, and the show ends in an uproarious climax. I ended up with a mixed feeling about the fact that this side of Deep Purple is what the audience still wants and expects from the band. It was, nevertheless, a very, very fine show, and I had almost forgotten time during its the three hours.