As there were several people from AMDP and IRC regular attending the Chicago shows, we'd agreed to meet up before the shows in the hotel most of us were staying at. Once there it was a case of sit in the bar, and work out who else was there for the DP shows...Actually, it wasn't that hard. Most of the people there were OAPs on coach trips. Anyone under 40 was probably the for Purple ;-)
By 6.00pm, we must have had a group of 10, and after a few beers, I decided to change my kilt (well, if I was going to make an arse of myself, I might as well do it properly!).
About 7.30 ish we headed off to the venue, about 10 minutes walk away (if that). After a little bit of queing we got in, quite close to the front, and with enough time for a couple of beers before the show. The venue was quite good, with one feature similar sized UK venues could use - waitresses moving through the crowd during the show keep you topped up :-)
The New Meanies came on at 9.00 and in my opinion were very good. I'm certainly going to track down a copy of their album as soon as I have time.
DP took the stage at 10.30, with a good solid performance. The sound wasn't perfect, but the band were in good shape. The main problem I felt was the same one that hindered many of the European shows in 96 - Jon was too far down in the mix. Still, they've now got an ending for Into the Fire, something that kinda fell apart at Lahr!.
In fact the first three tracks were done staight back-to-back with no chat or introductions between them. Jon is also adding some swirling Hammond to Paicey's Fireball intro.
The highlight had to be Seventh Heaven - this song has to be a new classic!. A nice quite intro a la Hey Cisco, before all Hell breaks loose, though there are some quieter moments later on...its hard to describe exactly, so I'm afraid you'll just have to wait for the new CD!
Steve's Cascades solo fitted on well at the end of Pictures of Home, though it was a bit strange with the old Difficult to Cure ending leading into it. Though his solo follows the same format as before, there is a lot more variation from night to night, and you get more of the feeling that he is jamming on the spot. He also varies the start of SOTW with a mix of other classic rock riffs.
Jon's solo semmed a bit shorter than before, and the organ he was using looks more like a piece of furniture than a musical instrument - nicely polished wood with scrolled and moulded legs!. Several people around me though his solo was leading into Child in Time, and seemed a little confused when When a Blind Man Cries was played. This song was another highlight for me - those of you who think Steve palyed it well on LATO should hear what he does witht he track now!!
Other than that, what can I say?? A great show and its scarey to see them having so much fun on stage...in fact its harder to think who was having the most fun - the audience or the band.
Chicago Pt. 2
Tonight, our little group had shrunk somewhat to 7, and what's worse, my kilt was begining to get stragne comments from al these 80-something women who were staying at the hotel...
We got to the venue later, though were quite a bit closer to the front. The Meanies came on again, and though playing the same songs (IIRC), they did change the order quiet a bit each night.
Again, DP were on about 10.30 and played a very similar set. The only difference was that Rosa's replaced SIFLS. This was actually introduced by a classic line from Gillan...
We've had a request from the drummer for this one, but we're going to play in time anyway!
Though not actually forgetting the words, Gillan didn't quite get the right tune for the first few lines ;-). Also, I think tonight was when there was a little hiccup during the intro to Woman from Tokyo (Paicey probably saw a girl with big knockers in the audience was one annonymous band members comment ;-) ).
The overall sound I felt was a lot better tonight, though a couple of the guys were later critical on their own performances. I have to admit I didn't notice. Some songs, noticably Highway Star, were even better tonight. As for Gillan's screams - I thought Bloodsucker was great on the Monday, but he carried it off again, note perfect, tonight!
After the show, a few of us got back stage - or rather led to a tiny room at the top of the venue, where a couple fo teh guys dropped in for a quick chat. We then got lost when we tried to leave, and ended up in the kitchens, and then tried to explain to the Spannish/Peurto Rican or whatever they were kitchen staff that we were looking for the exit....Fawlty Towers eat your heart out !!!!
Chicago Pt. 3
For obvious reasons, tonight's show was something special. Probably the best of the three, but then I may be wearing rose-tinted specs here. But to see Steve lead his new wife off stage, and come on 10 seconds later already playing Hush...well, what can you say!!!!
I'd heard rumours about the wedding for a couple of weeks before the tour, but I have to admit I didn't take them that seriously, but we'd had it confirmed earlier on, and had even run into Steve and his bride to be that afternoon when we popped into the HoB to visit the shop.
At 10.30, Gillan pushed his way throught the curtains to ask explain to the crowd that the band was double-booked, and had to attend Steve's wedding as well as do the gig. Asked everyone to be quiet (which for the most part they were), as the curtains were drawn back to reveal the wedding party - a group of eight (?) people, with Jon the only band member on stage. It's fair to say that this wasn't a White edding ;-), with Setve wearing a blazer to cover his working clothes! I wonder if I'd get away on that if I ever decide to get married...
Anyway, the ceremony was quiet brief (less than 10 minutes I think), and the band were quickly doing their thing
Again, Ian hit all the right notes in Bloodsucker, and everywhere else he decided to scream. SIFLS was played again tonight, and a bit of Not Fade Away was added into Speed King.
Steve's main solo varied again, and we got American Woman during the Smoke intro, a song we'd asked him to include earlier. Other tunes palyed included bits of Led Zep, and I think it was tonight that Hendrix's Manic Depression was done. IIRC, some Yes was also done one night.
Overall, after three nights, I can say the band are playing better and better. Though there were a couple of mistakes now and then, the band seem even more relaxed and comfortable together than they were when I saw them in the summer, and so much so tighter than those first UK dates back at the start of 96 - and I thought they were brilliant then. They are just having sooooooo much fun up there on stage!!!
I also think the new album is going to be something special....
After the show, we headed back to the band's hotel, where we sat in the corner and enjoyed ourselves. Most of teh band came over, and we got a chance to give Steve and Jackie a quick Wedding present.
I got chatting to a freelance photographer who had been on stage during the ceremony (Randy somebody). He say that the wedding pics may appear in an article on Steve in Guitarist (or whatever the magazine previously known as Guitar for the practicing player is now called).
There were a couple more interesting things - one guy came over to our group, and he was the stereotype of a Holywood salesman - "Gee - those guys really Fuckin' rocked tonight" etc etc. He was nice enough, but he couldn't quite get around the fact I was wearing the kilt - and decided that I was from a totally alien culture....I pointed out that we both get up, go to work, drink and listen to rock music...the only diference was that in the US they have guns, and we still use swords;-)
Finally, at about 4.00am ,after goodbyes to the band and fellow fans, and a few group photo's with Secil on Gillan knee, we headed back to our hotel. On the way, we passed a Police Car, with two WPCs inside. Next thing I know is that they switch on the speaker system, and say "I think we'll just sit here and wait for the breeze to pick up to see if the rumours are true"
I did offer to prove I was a true Scotman, but if I had done, I would have probably been arrested...and it was getting a bit chilly by this time ;-)