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

The Bang-Your-Head Festival in Balingen, Germany, June 19th, 1999

Actually I was planning to see all the bands on Saturday, but then it happened that I got "stuck" in the bar in Bad Mergentheim with Steve and Rog until (well, the sun was already up)... So for that reason I didn't make it to Balingen until late afternoon and the first band I saw was Dio. Some little remarks about that: Ronnie himself was doing great. It's amazing that he lost nothing of his power and range in his voice over the last 20 years ! They were playing stuff like "King Of Rock'n'Roll", "Rock'n'Roll Children", "Holy Diver", "Heaven And Hell", "Stargazer", (even a little sequence of "Mistreated") and way more. All "old" stuff, which suited me just fine. As I said, Ronnie was great but I consider his band rather weak. The guitarist was, I must admit, a little better than Tracy G., but still average. His solo was a joke. Boring, no expression, no technique. (Steve would have played that thing better with one arm tied to his back and only three fingers left on his left hand.) The drummer didn't thrill me either, although he was doing something like a solo... Ronnie saved the show. Unbelievable how good he still is. I'm really praying for that man (who's also a nice person, as I found out last week in Frankfurt) that he's lucky and find a better band, supporting him with songwriting and performing on the high level he's on. He deserves better.

Well, let's now get to Purple. The setlist was pretty much the same as in Bad Mergentheim. If there were little differences, I can't tell you, because I didn't make notes this time. Feel free to correct me here.
  The guys seemed to be in an ever better mood (geez, Rog, how did you manage that after that long night...?). The solos and improvisations were more extensive, the joking and fooling - especially between Rog and Steve was a pleasure to watch.

Oh, something else: Jon was NOT wearing a ponytail! First time in years that I saw him with his hair down. Big Ian's performance left no room for criticism, he used that "catwalk" into the crowd a lot which gave good chances for a shot. In general they were moving around a lot, switching stage positions or getting together to laugh, talk or hug. I can ABSOLUTELY not understand some reviews I just heard/read saying they were emotionless. This is B...SH... Only explanation I have for that is, that these people were maybe too far away from the stage to see what was happening or they couldn't "see" anymore at all, not to say worse.
Later that evening in the bar, Big Ian and Rog were in a great mood: Rog was telling jokes, Ian was setting up games, and they even did photos and autographs with a bride and groom who were having their wedding reception at the place.

My bottom line is that both gigs were absolutely worth the money. The guys obviously enjoy playing together, they are having fun on stage (again), they communicate, joke and fool around with each other, they improvise. But that is true in general for all their gigs since Steve is in the band.
They did not play some of the songs which I would have liked to hear ("Rosa's Cantina" or "Hey Cisco" with their very special groove for example) and on the other hand I could live without "Smoke..." and "Speed King". But that's of course just my personal opinion. You'd get 3642 different setlists if you'd ask every fan, I know.
I can easily live with whatever the guys decide to play (maybe one day it will be something unusual such as "Mary Long" or "Smooth Dancer", who knows - 25th anniversary of WDWTWA is coming up.....)

I have some doubt that it was the best idea for Purple to headline a heavy metal festival. Those who came for THEM only (which were actually quite a lot! Hundreds arrived just a short time before Dio started to play) were really annoyed by the majority of the crowd. And the headbangers who came for the other bands were probably not too happy with Purple because they couldn't appreciate the quality of DP's performance, they only showed up to hear noise...

This was just an excerpt from the whole report. More details about the different songs/venues/backgrounds as well as PICTURES of the events you can find on "Ted Mechanic's Deep Purple Pages".

Axel Dauer

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