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

Sunday, July 28 1998, Olympiahalle, München, Germany

The day before I have seen them in Halle and enjoyed it tremendously. I was trying to meet the band, but had no time to wait much later than midnight as my overnight train to Munchen was leaving around 1am. Halle is quite a small town as a taxi ride from Eissporthalle to the train station is 11-12DM even during the night (the other explanation is that gas and drivers are cheap in Eastern Germany, not like the Mercedeses they are driving).

I got to the train station at half past midnight only to discover that it's next to closed. Washrooms require 1DM coin to enter and needless to say I had none. Hint: if you're ever in the same situation, try dropping coins that are at hand. I think it was 2ff coin that did the trick. 2ff are also handy for coin lockers at german train stations. ;)

I was so exhausted that i grabbed the first available compartment (I didn't manage to secure a sleeping place). It wasn't bad except that my backpack is way too hard for a pillow substitution. The other minor problem was that I took the wrong car - a conductor woke me up at 3am and said that if I don't move, I'll end up in Basel instead of Munchen. Basel was definitely the wrong place to go if you want to see DP, so I had to move.

I got to Munchen at about 9:30 in the morning and went straight to my friend's place, where I was offered a much needed shower. It was sunday, but the guy is working in intensive therapy department of a local hospital, so he had to report to work early afternoon. After a generous schnitzel with a couple of glasses of nasty Bayerische brew, I said thanks to him and departed for a brief tour around the city. My first destination was Tourist Info office next to Hbf (main train station). I've got a subway/local trains map there and finally figured out how to pay for the transportation ;). An internet cafe happened to be just around the corner, so i went there and typed review of the previous day show (boy, do I love these national keyboard layouts!)

The next thing was to do a brief recoinassance (sp?) of the battlefield. After the show I had to catch a train that leaves Pasing station (western Munchen) at 1:38am. Next morning I had to be in Orsay, France (just outside of Paris) at 9:30am sharp. If you ever try to do this, here's the trick: there is no direct train or plain that will leave Munchen after 10pm and get to Paris before 8:30am. The only option is to board the Oriental Express in Munchen-Pasing at 1:38am, get off in Strasbourg at 6am and catch a 7am plane from Strasbourg to Paris-Orly. This in total includes 5 connections in 9 hours and missing any of them means I'm screwed up. (I actuallty did it to Orsay in time).

So I went to Pasing and left my stuff in a locker so that I can go inside the concert hall with nearly empty backpack. After this I was all set for the Olympic Park. This is the place where 1972 Olympics took place and consists of a huge outdoor stadium, an indoor arena (Olympiahalle itself), an indoor swimming pool and a number of other amenities including plenty of beer drinking tents ;).

I got to Olympiahalle shortly after 4pm and walked around it to find the backdoors where the band members are supposed to get inside. The front doors were closed, but I spotted a tour poster on one of them that read 'Rage tour with special guests: Deep Purple' (sic! - as if DP are supporting Rage) which I took a picture of.

It was easy to locate the doors with two huge doubledecker touring buses I saw the day before near Eissporthalle in Halle. There was not much going on, but I decided that before the show would be the only chance for me to meet the band, sign my Abandon and MiJ'25 and beg for a backstage pass. So I grabbed a glass of beer and settled on a green lawn nearby. There were a couple of german fans in their 40s who were apparently waiting for the same, but an attempt to make a conversation was broken by the language barrier.

About an hour later side door of one of the buses opened and a bunch of people wearing TBRO and _|_ tour t-shirts comes out. they spoke fairly good english and I shought them to be roadies/drivers, but they were a bunch of german fans who happen to know SM's guitar technician. They told me that the band is supposed to show up around 8pm. The tickets said that doors open at 6 and show starts at 8, same as the day before. So for a 9:20-9:30 DP kickoff this made sense for me. I was about to go get a quick bite and another beer when this HUGE silver painted Mercedes drives into the VIP parking lot and Colin walks out looking extremely busy. I approach him like 'Hi Colin! Excuse me, what time the guys are coming over here?' - 'In a short time', and he disappears inside.

Well, in a short time means almost anything, so I decided not to take a risk and stay there. As a result, I've been waiting until 8pm to no avail. The Rage show was about 15 mins into the set when there was visible agitation among the security. I grab my bag, take out my CDs, take off my vest to prominently display /-\ tour t-shirt that I got the day before and I'm all ready with my silvershine permanent marker. Only to see a column of 5 or 6 Mercedeses to pass by in full speed and go to the underground garage which is naturally a restricted area.

..Speak about tough luck.....

Frustrated, but still looking forward, I got inside the Olympiahalle. I had a general admission ticket for the floor (which is what I like), but my legs hurt really bad after standing up for 4+ hours, so I went upstairs to the upper level, took a beer and made myself comfortable in a chair for the rest of the opening act. I also made a brief look around the stage only to figure out that there was absolutely no way to get anywhere close to the backstage entrance without interfering with security. I called it quits for my hopes and prepared to enjoy the show.

The show
Opening act was over at around 9pm and I got downstairs to the floor to grab a decent spot while a good chunk of the crowd went to take a leak and another beer. DP definitely play this kind of music that's supposed to be LOUD in the first place. In the second place, I don't like dense crowd when there's no space to move around, dance and wave hands. So, I decided on a spot approx 5 mterers from the stage, leftmost corner, right in front this pile of speakers suspended from the ceiling. (Hell, this was *LOUD*. Rog's bass playing produced a nice breeze which helped to cool down in a poorly ventilated otherwise building ;) ).

The band kicked off at approx 9:20 with the same opening: Hush. This track works excellent live, despite Jon who was againg quite constrained and on top of this pretty low in the mix. Not that I couldn't hear his Hammond, but the rest were just blasting the place, while Jon's playing was rather casual accompainement.

Hush was followed by Bludsucker and SKOW. When I first read reports from this tour about SKOW being back to the set, I was rather disappointed. There were moanings and groanings after TMIB called it quits that he insisted basically on the MiJ setlist with little variations, so the band had to play the same old hits again and again. SKOW is definitely one of such, which by early 90s was merely a MiJ era nostalgic thing rather than a hot live number. Not this time. Despite the fact that IG's voice is in excellent form (MUCH better then on _|_ tour), the (un)famous guitar-vocals duel in SKOW was A.Band.On.ed. Instead of this, SM played an excellent long solo which ended up trying to initiate call-and-response game with the crowd. The call-and-response didn't work out (it didn't the night before either).

This time around I was almost sober, but I decided not to take the setlist, but try to take some pictures. (In a few cases this approach worked as I was constantly moving forward and by the end of the show ended up in a second row right in front of Roger. Unfortunately, by this time my film was over with the last two shots spent on Big Ian wearing Stevie Ray V-nish hat during Lazy). From what I recall now, the setlist was the same as reported by Rasmus for the Klam show. At least, SKOW was definitely followed by Ted (another song that I bitch about between the tours and that is absolutely gorgeous when you're in fron of stage) and POH. The night before in Halle POH turned into a real treat as Rog decided to do an extended bass solo. This night he limited himself to the standard option pretty much a-la the album and LATO'96.

This concluded a block of "hits" that were suposedly to get the crowd going before the live premiere of /-\ numbers. I must say that all the new numbers live are absolutely lovely, no matter how you dislike them on the album. To my surprise, these new numbers were pretty well received by the fans, while it looked at the beginning that most of them are not familiar with the album. I mean, it wasn't like the crowd goes wild with the first glimpse of the riff like in SOTW or WFT, but gets involved little by little and by the end of a song it's there! The magic is happening right here, in front of you, on this very stage. I think it is mostly not only due to live potential of the band, but due to the fact that most /-\ tracks follow this pattern where an ultra heavy and catchy riff makes contrast with mellow and beautiful melody (Fingers To The Bone is a vivid example).

Steve's solo before SOTW was rather short as was Jon's solo spot before Lazy. But Steve took his toll during the songs, while Jon was still far below his usual enthusiasm. Speed King turned into a flamboyant jam which was the only time Jon woke up and showed his blistering performance. Seeng and hearing IG and SM fooling around each other was a real treat. It was like 'yeah, well, can you sing this?' - 'c'mon, man i can sing this. and on top of it i'll have some fun'. Pacey's solo was long and brilliant, long I mean it's comparable to the one in The Mule on MiJ (to JimC: now wait to hear this!)

Encores: Any Fule Know That and Highway Star. Simply perfect.

The show was over it a bit short of 2 hours. As I've said before, I ended up right in front of Rog and tried to get his attention at least for a moment. No such luck, and frankly speaking I didn't believe he still remembers me from a brief meeting in Tallinn in 96 and later the same year backstage in Toronto. Anyway, the girl in front of me was luckier as she got one of Steve's picks. I figure, it would be just way too much for me to get backstage this time either.

Post show mumblings
Yes, I'm a maniac. Yes, I'm a fanatic. Probably you're as well - otherwise I don't see your point of reading this up to the end except for purely scientific purposes. But I'm kind of a very vary fanatic. I usually don't believe in many of the supersticious reviews that are posted here until I get to feel the thing myself and make my own opinion. I was very vary when I first went to see DP in July 1996. I was afraid of a disappointment. I was greatly surprised - the band exceed all my expectations that I've built in 15 years listening to their recording. I was very vary two weeks ago - I got reports from the people I trust that the current tour is nowhere good. So I decided to go out and make my own mind. I made it.

The message I'm trying to send here is simple. This band is unbelievably good live. This band is particularly unbelievably good live this tour. If you have at least a remote chance to see them, do so. If you think about doing it, stop thinking and go. If you have tickets for a show, look around and try to get to another one. If you're travelling somewhere, first go to / and check the tourdates to plan your travel accordingly. Do not try to save money. Basically, myself I'm student, i.e. by no means a wealthy person. I have seen the band twice on this tour, a ticket for the third show is in my pocket and three more shows are in the works. My bank account is in the state of disaster, my credit card bills are in four digit numbers.

But I'm absolutely happy. These are the pennies well worth spent.

Enjoy your show!

Nick Soveiko

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