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

Deep Purple, Abandon Tour 98, Live at the Essen Grugahalle, October 7th, 1998

"A strange night with Purple..."
One of the strangest concerts I have ever been at! I like it a lot and I was somehow very disappointed at the same time...let me explain...
The support band: a four-piece band from Switzerland. I can't remember their weird name and that's exactly how their music sounded like. It can be described as a mix between Grunge music with German lyrics (Swiss dialect) and some crossover stuff (like yodeling...). I didn't like their performance at all and the audience started to whistle as well...
After a 30 minute break, Deep Purple entered the stage and kicked off the show with "Ted the Mechanic", one of my favourite tunes from the great "Purpendicular" record. At this moment, I think about 6000 people were in the place... The sound was excellent from the first minute on and it this one really rocked but the audience couldn't get into it! I had a seat at the platform, therefore I had the chance to have a look over complete crowd and they were simply standing there hanging around and only the first two rows in front of the stage started to clap their hands...and that was exactly what made me feel so strange about this concert. Deep Purple played so well, they had a great sound and lots of fun on stage obviously and the audience was so lame...
Next came another great tune called "Strange kind of woman" which was followed by "Bloodsucker". I like that version of this song a lot. Really heavy stuff. The 4th song in the set was "Pictures of home" before DP started to play the 3 or 4 new songs from Abandon which marked the only part of the show that I think was really boring and so thought the audience who started to "sleep" even more... Steve Morse took them out of sleep again after "Watching the sky" and "Any fule kno that" were finished. Jon Lord lead Steve straight into a absolutey fantastic solo with a some kind of spacy intro. For the next couple of minutes Steve, was alone on stage and suddendly the crowd started to scream, shout and clap their hands to support Steve! Definitely a highlight of the show. Speaking of Jon Lord... I missed some of his great solos. He did a great jam with Steve and a very short solo (about 3 minutes or so) too but the other musicians were very dominant somehow and I had the impression that Jon couldn't show all his fantastic talent that night.
Anyway, the set continued and highlights naturally included "Smoke on the water" which got the most applause. SOTW was in fact the only song, the audience started to sing along with...that's very poor and sad indeed. "Perfect Strangers" also turned out to be great as well as "Woman from Tokyo". Purple finished their set after about 100 minutes and came back on stage for two encore songs. The first one was a song from "Abandon" and the second one was "Highway Star" which finished off the show after 115 minutes in a great way!
So, here you have it. I'm still not sure what to say about the concert. I was worried all the way when I drove back home last night. I liked the performance a lot and I wished the audience would have given the band more applause and input for it. A concert to me is only perfect when both the audience and the band are in great form and that was not the case yesterday. Ian Gillan, who's voice sounded great last night, sometimes said to the audience: "You are superb.", but I think that's only what he usually does. He seems to be a very kind person with some kind of charisma on stage that makes him look very natural. Another question that came to my mind shortly when thought about the concert was, weather the band was able to get the audience in the show a bit more or not. I came to the conclusion that it wasn't their fault. They have given their best and that was very good.
What I personally missed a bit were a few more songs from "Purpendicular" like "Sometimes I feel..." or "The Aviator" but you sure can't have them all. The set list was okay and I liked it even though I think "Abandon" is a weak album. So, it could have become a perfect night..but sadly there was something wrong. A talked about this with a friend of mine and he was of the opinion that some people might be a little tired about Purple and only want to hear the classics. I'm not sure if he's 100% right with this, but it might have something true in it...and that is very sad to me because I like a lot of the "uncommon" Purple songs, too. That's it finally. A very strange night indeed which worried me a lot. But finally I think I saw a great performance by a great band and I'm sure that I will be back at the next tour. And I hope, the people will all come back as well and give Purple the input they deserve. A good example for this were the two concerts I saw in 1996, they were over the top.

Birgitt Schwanke

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