Deep Purple Concert in Oslo Oct. 4th 1998
This was my first DP concert ever. I have been a fan since ca. 1974. Unbelieveable. I should be ashamed, but now I am happy.
I was first going to write a thorough review, but since so many people have said so much about the Scandinavian dates, I though I just keep it to some observations.
Forget the newspapers. They don't even have a clue. Have emailed them asking them if they were really present at the concert etc.
So here we go:
I was really surprised by Ian Gillan's voice. One of the most positive elements of the concert. Having heard LATO and some boots of later days, I was afraid of the straining in his voice. Not so during the Oslo concert. He caughed (off microphone) a few times late in the show, and during Highway Star (the last encore) some straining came creeping in, but during all the other songs he kept his voice, his power and all the high notes. He even surprised Steve Morse during one of their "friendly battles" exchanging riffs when Ian was able to jump higher than Steve had anticipated. The inbetween song screams were long, high and delightful.
Steve Morse: I like that guy's playing. To everyone who think TMIB's drooling on forever on one note is state of the art; listen to what can be done (Joke: "Why are you playing only one note?" "I have found my music - the others are still looking"). Yes, Steve plays a lot of notes, but there is a line (called music, you know) in his solos, and he is aware of events around him; he is able to be a part of a band as a whole unit. Still, he was not holding back; he gave a lot of spark, and I could follow all his creative input during his solos (quite a lot of details there if you care to listen). He throws in the chromatic runs now and then, but fewer than before: there were a lot more chords and melodic lines now - and of course the very fast runs he does, running so high up the guitar neck he almost crawls in on his little blue guitar. I sometimes screamed with laughter of all the small inbetween rythm chuggings he does (I think he has picked this up from Jon Lord), especially on some carefully selected spots on the older songs. Also, I think it is really rewarding to have him take the old DP songs and turn them into his own expression; playing the SOTW riff different from TMIB upsets all the critics (do I hear screams of WRONG!?), but to me it shows how daring he can be. Steve was very much up front in the mix, sometimes slightly too much to my taste, but then, have I mixed the concert I would probably have pushed the guitar and vocals up front as well.
Jon Lord: One of the reasons I'm in the music business. Great to see him work. Fabulous solos. Great variety in the organ sounds, but some classic sounds applied to the classic songs. I would have liked to have him even louder in the mix, but he was clearly audible all the way through. Some fuzzyness in the sound (especially for the piano, but also for the organ) caused some finger details to be lost, but all the famous organ sound of Deep Purple was present. Some have said he looked tired, but hey! have you tried jumping about the stage with a Hammond? I thought he looked very happy, showed enthusiasm, and was generally rocking during both his solos and during the riffs. His long into to Lazy incorporated several extracts from Grieg (of course, since we are in Norway). He was able to fuse the SOTW riff (in slow motion) with the Grieg Piano concerto, and threw in Anitra's Dance and Morgenstemning from Peer Gynt before he explored the sonic differences in soft, dark piano from high-pitched loud organ and some more upbeat playing, slowing down into Lazy. Jon Lord showed a lot of activity on the organ, ferociously hammering out rhythms and cluster sweeps, and continuously have control over the Leslies, changing the rotor speeds all the time. On Seventh Heaven he even got away from the Hammond, clapping out the rythm for a long time.
Both Steve Morse and Jon Lord played longer solos than I have expected (Ooohh - they could even have been longer). They traded licks from time to time (not only in Speed King), and I was amused by the musical memory they have; they must remember long strings of improvised lines on the fly, not just short riffs.
The bass playing of Roger Glover was just present. Solid, but driving. Very precise, and with a clear sound. To me it seems he maintained the original style on the classic songs, so that the feeling of those old songs remained intact partly due to the melodies and riffs as well as the the bass coverning the harmonic pattern. Roger was also smiling a lot, singing along with Ian (far remote from a mic, though, although Steve and Roger did some 2nd vocals on one song (forgotten which one)). He has made a lot of the lyrics with Ian, so it make sense. Fun also to hear two bass solos from Roger, and later in the show see him repeatately bump his bass into some speaker cabinets. He also made the same effect with Steve; bumping his bass strings into Steve's guitar strings. Funny.
The drum set for Ian Paice included more drums than the MiJ days, and he certainly made good use of them (How does he keep up the pace [pun intended]). He was all arms and legs, and with his jaw going in pure excitement over the songs. At times he was all occupied with and into the groove, sometimes missing the cue from Steve or Jon when they finished their solos (once Jon had to lie down over the organ to get Ian's attention). His drum solo in Speed King was simple but effective, and with a clear musical form! It was like listening to a new song. Amazing.
The set list included a good mixture of classicals and new songs. The set list was the same as the other venues, with FTTB added. I think it was good to have that (relatively) quiet song in the middle of the show, since both WABMC and SIFLS is out. They didn't do Black Night, but got trough the BN riff during some solo spot on SKOW. And yes, the did do my favorite through all these years: Strange Kind of Woman. Thank you. I thank you. Some songs that I always thought of as "quiet" was much more heavy, especially Watching the Sky, which became a positive surprise for me. Other songs to highlight: Perfect Strangers, Seventh Heaven, SKOW, Bludsucker, Any Fule Kno That and Speed King (with "dialogues" between Jon/Steve and IanG/Steve).
The sound and mix was great, and so was the lights. I noticed the small, but effective equipment setup before the show started; this is professionals that really know what they are doing. It was loud, but not thundering. The only times I noticed the high volume was during some of Jon Lord solo spots: Some of the overtones in the organ really hit my ear. The backdrop with the diver was simple, but worked well. Clothing, stage appearance etc. etc. as you all probably know well enough.
Audience: Some 5000+. Sold out, with a croud in the standing area in front of the stage. I was in there, someplace between the stage and the mixer, slightly towards Rogers side on the left. I had a good and clear view of all 5 during the show. Audience was responsive, although there were some annoyed persons around were I was standing (with Trond), because they were just standing still, while I was rocking, dancing, singing/screaming along, and generally just digging the whole show. The show lasted some 110+ minutes.
I have nothing to compare with, but I liked this concert. I like the songs, enjoyed how they vere performed, could sence the joy and positive vibration from the band, and generally had a good time. The band was radiating music, jumping about the stage, having fun, smiling to each other, giving cues, improvising, missing cues, making mistakes, inventing some new licks, being back on track, playing tight, and seemed to love it all. I loved it.
Prior to the show, Trond, HŒkon, Tom-Eirik, Erik, Anders & friends, Svante (which I met for the first time - Hi, Svante!) and me met at a bar across the street from the concert hall (Oslo Spektrum). Had the bar play "30: Best of..." while getting into mood.
After the show we met Steve and Roger backstage (Thanks to Colin and Trond). They are really some charming, straightforward, nice men. Open and with patience, they signed autographs, did some photos, talked to fans and support, and took the time to chat for a while. Roger demystified the superband status, and the way the band works: "We just play. We don't analyze, we just play."
All the best wishes for the rest of the tour.