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

Dedicated to Tommy Bolin

My first Deep Purple show ever turned out to be one of the most exciting nights of my life. I am a big fan of Deep Purple, and being from Sioux City (about 90 miles north of Omaha and Tommy Bolin's hometown), I am also a big fan of Tommy and a friend of his brother, Johnnie. I never would have guessed that my decision to wear my Tommy t-shirt with the "Teaser" album cover would lead to me being singled out by Ian Gillan himself during the middle of the show. [Yeah! You were famous on this page before your review reached us! :-) Rasmus]

There were no reserved seats, so my wife and I got there early and rushed to the front. We ended up toward the very front of the crowd, center stage. After Ted Nugent finished playing, the remaining crowd in front of us cleared a little bit so I was able to be only one person away from the barricade.

The show started, and I was immediately impressed by their showmanship - I was afraid that they would seem to be a little laid back after Nugent's antics, but that was not the case! The first part of the set went like this:

"Woman From Tokyo"
"Ted The Mechanic"
"No One Came"
"Hey Cisco"

Next was "Perfect Strangers". This is one of my favorite songs, so I was singing all of the lyrics - Roger looked down and could see that I was singing along and gave me a big smile.

After that song, Ian Gillan said that he had noticed someone in the front wearing a Tommy Bolin t-shirt. I started freaking out and jumping up and down and he came over and pointed down at me. He told the audience that he had received a recent email reminding him that Tommy had died 25 years ago, and that the next song was dedicated to him. They started "When A Blind Man Cries" - a beautiful, emotional song made even more poignant by Ian's touching dedication.

After that I was in a state of shock so the rest of the show is a little bit of a blur - Steve played bits of "La Grange", "Free Ride", "Stairway To Heaven", and "Back In Black", before going into "Smoke On The Water". "Hush" and "Highway Star" were the encores, ending a magnificent concert.

I didn't have a backstage pass, but I thought that I had to try to meet the band after what had happened. Of course, the security at the end of the stage were no help, so I went outside and found the tour buses and waited about an hour. Many other fans had been waiting and had left, but I thought if I stuck it out I might meet one of them. There were only three of us left - myself, my wife, and another Tommy fan.

I caught a glimpse of Roger walking toward the bus and after we started yelling "Roger", he came over. He immediately recognized me as the guy with the Bolin t-shirt and we started talking about Tommy - he met him a couple of times around the time of the "Butterfly Ball" and I believe he described Tommy as "charming". He also expressed his admiration for the "Teaser" album. We talked about the show and how it was Jon's 60th birthday, and I asked him why nothing was said onstage about it. He indicated that it was a milestone for Jon and I got the impression that Jon did not want it to become a big deal. We also told Roger about how everyone, Steve in particular, had a constant smile while on stage. With that, Roger indicated that "It's nice that we have smiles on stage now", a not-so-subtle reference to the previous guitarist. After about 10 minutes, Roger got the signal that the bus was leaving. He was kind enough to sign my program and to go onto the bus to get autographs from Lord and Paice for me (Morse and Gillan had already left). I was truly impressed by Roger - he does not have a "rock star attitude" at all.

By far, this was the most amazing concert experience I have ever had, and it will never be forgotten.

Jay Denne

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