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

Le Zenith, Paris, France, July 9 1998

This was my 3rd show this tour and 6th in total. By far it was the best one I've seen. I've reported earlier that on German dates (Halle and Munich) the band was amasing, but they were basically playing sans TOMATO. (DP sans TOMATO is an oxymoron by definition). Yesterday the mighty Hammond was back and everybody else up to the standards of the previous shows. Well, you've got the idea....

Le Zenith is basically a huge tent in the corner of Parc de la Villette. I went there last weekend to see the venue and choose a place for a quick beer before the show. I've emailed everybody registred at DPWWW for this show with directions and the meeting place (a small rock bar across the street from the park). A couple of people responded and said they'll be there, but when I arrived at 7:30 I couldn't figure out anybody. I stayed there until 8:20 (the show was beginning at 8:30), had a couple of beers and a shot of Glenlivet (apparently, I paid twice for the same beer due to language barriers).

There were scalpers in the alley leading to Le Zenith trying to sell 179ff face value tickets for 200ff. To no avail, as 10 minutes before the show there still were tickets in the booking office. Looks like, French don't buy tickets in advance, but do it at the last moment.

Security at the entrance was tough searching everybody (and they even had a lady to search the girls!). My dear compact camera with zoom and defeatable flash was promptly confiscated and left in a locker until the end of the show. I managed to sneak in another one, disposable fuji thingy, but I didn't want to bother the band with the flash so there are no pictures from me this time.

Inside there were two merchandise booths full of stuff. Apart from /-\ tour and MH'25 t-shirts (150ff, us$1=6ff) I saw in Germany, they also had coffee mugs (60ff) - blue with /-\ logo and tourdates in red, baseball caps (150ff) - white with 'dp' in front, neat dark green t-shirts with subtle embroidered dp 'coat of arms' on the left chest (200ff i think) and for you, 'casual fridays' guys, black polo shirts with 'dp' logo that you can wear to work (260ff). I've got myself a mug and MH t-shirt which was of much better quality than the /-\ t-shirt I've got in Germany. By the time I was runnung out of cash, I spotted that they also have absolutely gorgeous tourbooks for 60ff (Mark, sorry I couldn't get you one due to lack of cash at hand :( ). I asked the merchandise guy what's the capacity of the venue and he said it's around 6,000. I think it was pretty much sold, or at least 5,000+ people were inside.

Opening band was 'GOTTARD' (with second T upside down), a HM band from Switzerland which was apparently not bad for the opening act and quite well known with French. The finished their set in 45 minutes with the cover of Manfred Mann's 'Mighty Queen' which made me rocking as well.

The show
DP hit the stage at approx 9:45pm and finished few minutes after midnight. This makes the longest their set I've seen. Changes to the setlist: Don't make me happy is out, Into the fire seems to be in the set, and Parisians got a second encore of Black Night.

Gillanism of the day: (talking to JL) 'What kind of croissant do you prefer?' JL: 'I don't know' IG: 'Anyway, after the breakfast Ted became the mechanic'.

Highlights: all of 'em. Really, there wasn't a weak point in there. Maybe, Fingers to the bone lost some of it's catch as after the blasting POH the sound guy seemed to turn down master volume a little. The sound came back blasting afterwards, but the moment was lost.

Special mention: SKOW (Steve got call-and-response from the crowd this time), POH (brilliant solo from JL), 7th Heaven (wicked solo from Steve), SM solo (apparently, he quoted something very popular in France as the crowd cheered him twice), SOTW, JL solo, SK (simply un-fucking-believably good, IG hugging everybody after the song), HS.

Big Ian wished the French team to win the World Cup, which to say was received extremely enthusiastically means to say nothing at all.

/-\ tracks were received very well (to my surprise again) and there seems to be quite a few fans of this particular album.

SM now is the king. He's everywhere and he's tireless. Now he doesn't need any more to prove every show that he's the right person to feel Ritchie's shoes. He is THE Deep Purple guitarist of the 90s and he knows it.

Overall, I give this show 10 out of 10.

Post show
As I missed the band in both Halle and Munchen, this time I decided I can't miss the chance. I got a room in a nearby hotel so that I can wait after the show as long as necessary without worrying about my last train to Orsay (which I doubt I would make anyway as it was leaving from Gare du Nord at 00:20).

I went to the backdoors and waited there for another hour and a half together with a handful of French fans. Two of them approached me and asked if I'd be interested in a recording of this show (MD source). My answer was a prompt yes and I left them my email address.

Two minivans were driving out of the gates with band members, but we convinced them to stop for a really quick signing. They didn't even get out of the cars and JL made a warning: 'one item each!'. I got my tourbook signed by everybody but Pacey, who was hiding in the back seat of the first van while I thought he'd be in the second. By the time I figured this out, it was too late - the first van was gone. I said thanks to the guys and 'hi' to Roger, who obviously didn't remember me. 'Thanks for the great show and see you in Canada!'. The whole thing was not more than a couple of minutes and I didn't have time even to get my camera out of the bag. That was it.

The thing that inpressed me was that Big Ian's voice was absolutely clear after all the screamings he did during the show that were alike good ole' days. Two years ago in Toronto his voice was pretty much gone after the show.

That was the night to remember.

Nick Soveiko

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