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

Deep Purple Paris 09.07.98

After a 3&1/2 hours drive we (Johan Van Ryckeghem, Vincent Serbruyns and I) found the venue reasonably easy, except for Le Zenith itself: we left the car park in the wrong direction, despite the road sign. Johan bought a ticket at "the black market" for the ticket price. A few minutes later we were offered other tickets at half price!

First we had a (few) good and very expensive beer(s). Pity we missed our 'Internet-people meeting in Le Local Rock, but I'm afraid we were in the wrong café (also something with Rock in it's name. But we had some luck: the bartender refilled our half-empty glass for free. Then a Thai meal and we left for the hall. By the way Nick: I was body searched by that lady, and I am not a girl! Gotthard was already playing when I entered at 20:40. For a change there were a lot of people enjoying the support act who got a lot of applause. Normally Deep Purple support acts are shit. The sound was great too. Forest national in Brussels can take this one for an example! The drum sounded very heavy and dry. I was quite far from stage, but the place where I stood - the stairs at the entrance, leaning against the rail - was great: I could overlook everybody with ease and without being crushed. The singer's gestures reminded me a bit of Doogie. (By the way: anyone heard anything about him?) This was the first time I stayed in the hall during a Purple support act; normally that is the time when most of us meet at the bar. The good show ended at 21:15 but without encores. One could see now how packed the place was.

21:48 Gillan was the first to get on stage, followed by Lord, Morse, Paice and Glover.

Hush: The set-up was a bit as in the old days: the guitarist on the right, the bass player left, singer in the middle. The background was shared by the drummer and on the right-hand the organ player. Both Paice and Glover were wearing their bandanna again. From the place I stood it looked like Paicey was bold, with long hair beside his ears, and wearing a hair-ribbon. We had the first solo of the evening, by Mr. Lord, followed by 2 very short solos by Steve. This song was rewarded with a big applause.

Then the first "new one": Bludsucker. First thing I've noticed: Gillan was coughing again, as he did in '93. But I've seen it only once or twice. He did disappear from time to time backstage, during someone's solo-bit (last tour this did not happen). Again the sound of the drum was great. Jon's organ playing during this song was as it is on Abandon: the way I don't like it; I prefer the In Rock's version. Gillan used his head as a bongo before the screaming. A very good one!

"We have a song about a woman, she was very strange: Strange Kind Of Woman. On the "I want you, I need you" bit Morses guitar was sounding very heavy, I liked it that way. Lordy's short solo got a fine applause at the start of it. Gillan was singing a mile beside the right notes during his silent "oehoe". But that's part of the live performance, and I don't mind it, if it doesn't happen too often. But he was in good shape, his voice was almost as good as it was in the good ol' days (the 70s I mean). Jon left also during Steve's solo, which he played alternately high and low. A short guitar duet with the audience followed. "Mercy".

"There's nothing worse than being surprised, by what? Ted The Mechanic". The intro still was too short for my liking. I do love long songs, the longer the better, my fave CD is "Live In Japan". Big Ian looked like he lost some kilos. After the song he and Morse shook hands; some more would follow during the evening.

"This one is from machine Head, written in Montreux: Pictures Of Home". This is the fifth song, and still nothing from Abandon (not counting Bloodsucker). Again the superb sound of the drums attracted my attention. Nice solo by Jon At last we got a long guitar solo. Can't remember if this happened last year during this song.

Ah, a new one and one of my favourites! "Fingers To The Bone". The "lightshow" was good too, at one moment we could take a very nice picture with their shadows on the backdropping, in different colours. The middle piece of the song did not fit in live: it ruins the atmosphere. I expected a bigger applause after this one.

Half an hour since the beginning of the show and their 7th song started with a (again) heavy Morse intro: "Almost Human". Roger and Steve were acting as a vocal backing group. (Now something follows in my little notebook, which I can't even read myself). Jon Lord took over Blackmore's job: the hand signals. "Mercy beaucoup!"

"Here's one (at this moment I thought he was going to shout: "here's a song for ya!") from In Rock: Into The Fire". This was more applauded than the new songs.

Woman From Tokyo: they all did something wrong during the intro of this one: the first one (can't remember who) made a mistake and the others did so too. The audience stayed fairly calm for this one. It is worth the "trouble" keeping an eye on Paice during the quiet bit. Then the public got more involved with the music. This song was the first peak of the evening! Again it was Lord who was dealing with the hand signalling. "Superb, you're fantastic, you are wonderful, we love you, ho ho ho!"

Watching The sky: the audience was calm again: not much reaction during the intro. I made a small query later: few have the new record. There was something wrong with this song during the faster sections, but I like the rhythm changes.

"7th heaven: There are only seven". Steve's short intro might have lasted longer for my taste. His long solo got the most approval by the audience. At last: a longer solo! Most of them are too short. Now I feel at home: at a real Purple concert. (Yeah, it is possible without Ritchie, but I did miss him a bit during the newer songs). The audience also rewarded this one with a huge reaction.

Aha! A magnificent intro to Blind Man! Done by Lord and Morse. GREAT! Then Steve continues alone, at one moment it sounded like he was going to do Smoke. I found this bit a departure from the Blind Man style. He broke the enchantment by playing too fast. Wait a minute, it is Smoke! (The most over rated Purple song) But what an intro! First time I heard Steve taking such a long introduction to this song. Ian is singing at Jon's side. Now the hall was turning wild: real hand clapping and foot stomping music.

"Congrats on the final, hope you'll win Sunday" the crowd went wild (why?) Evil Louie One of the lesser songs of the CD, and it showed clearly especially played after smoke. I did not like Jon's solo much. But when Steve is taking over: Lazy: the absolute highlight of the whole evening! For this one alone the trip to Paris was worth it. More! More! (The first time I'm applauding too tonight) Gillan was singing with a "Glover-hat" on. That's the first time I've seen him wearing one.

Perfect Strangers The green spotlights are a great imitation of the laser show we used to have in the 80's (that long ago?!) I like the little loops that Satriani introduced in this song, and Steve has taken them over nice.

The lullaby (Speed King) started with a quiet piano introduction (during which Gillan went different time backstage again). Great interaction between Steve and Jon. Followed by a short (2'30", clocked out of curiosity) drumsolo. A bit of Running Bear. During the singing-guitar duet Gillan was giving Morse a hard job, he tried a bit of everything, even laughing, nicely imitated by the guitarist. This duel was the best I've heard in years. Great! Gillan has his "old" voice back, pity that is due to the omission of Child In Time. This one is still in the top 3 of the al times top 100 in Belgium and Holland. Sure would like hearing that one again live. We see now a lot of handshakes, hugging and kissing on the stage. "Mercy beaucoup"

At 23:37 the stage lights turned purple. The frantic audience is left behind screaming, yelling and shouting for more. Well, this show is the opposite of Abandon: the second part is the best bit.

Two minutes later: "All right! Any Fule Kno That". This was not as good as the stuff we heard the last half an hour.

Then we got Steve's "space-intro" to Highway Star (no "and finally the finale"?). Again the public went nuts. Steve was playing his instrument à la Pete Townshend (the who). Extra!

It finished at 23:52. This was a concert with some lower points, but most of the time with a lot of highlights. But I can't say - like Stathis did - that this was the best Purple performance I've seen.

Wait a minute, they're back! (23:54) With Black Night (so, that's why no "finally!" and why the lights were still out). Gillan is wearing now Bermudas and that hat again.

The real end of the show was at 0:01 and the crowed were still singing the "Black Night-oh-ohs".

Everybody had a great time. At the beginning of the evening I was a bit "not in the mood for this Deep Purple", but that soon changed. It must have been very good, 'cos Johan Van Ryckeghem - a very big Blackmore fan - said himself that this show was better than some with Ritchie. Never thought he would ever ever say this. Pity they left "Don't Make Me Happy" out the set list, my other favourite of the CD.

The T-shirts - though I collect them - were too expensive to buy. Have to wait till Brussel now. When leaving the hall we saw some fires with half-a-meter flames in the distance: it were vendors trying to BBQ, in fact they were more burning the sates than BBQ-ing them, and that really did hurt me, being a chief-cook myself. Soon the police came and they all had to leave. When the police left, they all returned. We had one more drink and then left to Brugge. The trip was very tiring and the others were asleep, lucky I had some good music on my car stereo, Deep Purple or something like that. I was very glad that we were safely back home at 04:30.

Next appointment: Brussel, 24 September!

Michel De Pourcq

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