Andree Schneider (German)
Stathis N. Panagiotopoulos
Official Promo shots
I N T E R V I E W - listen
107 Oak FM, January 23 2000
Wring That Neck
Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming
Liner notes by Jon Lord
Roger Glover about the event
Ian Gillan about event and CD
CD: December 27 1999 [J]
CD: February 7 2000 [USA]
CD: January 24 2000 [rest of world]
Video: February 21 2000
DVD: February 21 2000
One might be persuaded to say: "oh no, not another Purple live CD!" since there are maybe a bit too many of them thrown on the market by various record companies. I admit, some of them weren't really necessary but this one is very, very different. It is a document of a musical event of the century, not just another Deep Purple live CD.
I had the pleasure of eye-witnessing the concert as it was and I was overwhelmed then. And now we can be happy to have these wonderful unforgettable hours preserved on a double CD. Lucky us!! I said earlier in my concert review (which you find linked at the bottom of this) I couldn't wait for the release, and, somebody had mercy with me, I didn't have to wait that long because a friend of mine gave me a promotional copy of it.(Big time hug, B.!!) So I thought, the least I can do in return of that favor, is sharing it with you and taking time to write a little preview.
Maybe due to the time capacity of two CDs, the CDs don't hold the complete concerto as we heard it, but that doesn't cut down or influence the quality of it at all.
We're missing the Scottish Dances by Sir Malcolm Arnold which opened the original concerto. The CD starts with "Pictured Within" of Jon's latest solo CD and Miller Anderson does a wonderful, emotional vocal job here. It's a great starter for the CD which will increase the speed and power later. I think the whole setlist is just perfect to play with your mood. Starts very calm and harmonically, builds up, but not too much, not to ruin the concerto by winding up the listener too much, and after the concerto it really lets go and rocks.
The next song, "Wait A While" from Jon's Pictured Within features Sam Brown on the vocals. Probably not perfect concerning the breathing technique, but a nice performance though.
The next two songs are taken from Roger's solo project "The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast" and it is a getting together again with his old mate, Ronnie James Dio. "Sitting in a Dream" is slightly different to the album version, the orchestra's parts are more extensive. "Love is All", with a nice violin solo of Graham Preskett, is one of the first highlights of the CD. It is followed by "Via Miami" of the "Accidentally On Purpose" project by Ian and Roger.
I just realized there is a difference between sitting in first row at the RAH, all excited about actually being there, in this wonderful seat, so close, being grateful to be "part" of such a wonderful event, with all the visual influences, or sitting at home on your sofa, just concentrating on your stereo. You get way more details from the CD than you were able to recognize while you were there. This is true in particular for this song. First I said I didn't like this song too much, but I guess I changed my mind while listening to the CD now. The song really swings, the background chorus and the Kick Horns are doing a great job here and Jon's piano work is really swinging.
Next is "This Is Why God Is Singing The Blues" from Ian's "Dreamchatcher" album. This one must be re-edited somehow.... I mentioned in the concert review that there were some technical problems during that song, including a big loud buzz from Steve Morris plugging in his guitar and I was wondering how they were going to fix that on the CD. Well, they did a perfect job here, either using the recording of 25th (if there was any - officially: no) or there was some "other little correction"... whatever, I'm very happy that it was fixed, because that was the only little negative thing there. In the first verse you couldn't hear Steve's acoustic guitar at all and even when he started the solo, no one could hear him until Ian walked over and helped him out with the vocal's microphone. But here on the CD you hear everything. And that's fine, whether or not it's authentic.
After this, Steve Morse brings in his bandmates Dave LaRue and Van Romaine from the Steve Morse Band and they perform "Take It Off The Top", actually an old tune from Steve's Dixie Dregs days, not SMB, but a good choice though. I don't know if it's a matter of the CD mixing, but I had that song as being more powerful in my memory. Anyway, Dave and Van prove to be extraordinary musicians and again Graham supports with his violin.
At the real concert they did a second song, Night Meets Light. I don't know why this one was dropped for the CD. I didn't realize any technical problems during the performance, so maybe it was just for time reasons.... Well, that's an interesting point to find out in the future.
The next song was picked to be Ian Paice's solo spot. It is "Wring That Neck" in a totally re-arranged version. It is performed in a big band style with no guitar, using instead a brass section called "The Kick Hornes". And they SHINE. So does Ian with a playing style far away from simple Rock drumming. A great version!
Next (on the CD) is Pictures Of Home. At the concert this one was played later, during the rock block. I assume it was put on the CD at this point because of time reasons again, not to cut the concerto in two, on two different CDs and I think that's a fine solution. I miss the announcement of the song, when Ian told us that they had always loved to do this with an orchestra. I understand all the editing on this CD, but that one should have been kept though. I believe Ian that they were planning this for a long time because it is so well written and arranged, the orchestra and the horns fit in so perfectly, that was not just a distress solution about what to do with the orchestra. The song starts with an extensive prelude of the orchestra, starting calm and building up, until Ian Paice burns a firework on his drumkid to kick into the original beginning of the song. WOW. That is something.
Steve's first solo is completely different to the original of Ritchie's. Short and sweet, right to the point, and very well thought over. The second solo leaves him more room for improvisation. While Ian is putting a cymbal carpet under his feet, he can go off with some very nice improvisation until the orchestra, led by Jon's organ, puts him back to ground. Very, very nice version of this underrated classic tune!
CD 2 holds Jon Lord's Concerto For Group And Orchestra - this piece of music history, the first attempt to fusion Rock and Classical music, originally performed 30 years ago at the very same place. We all know about the problems with the lost music sheets and the unbelievable effort of Marco de Goeji to re-write it. God bless him for that! And we also know that it was slightly re-written by Jon, due to either lost passages or the urge to just do it differently here and there. But it was kept as close to the original as possible.
One general difference I believe I noticed and yet understand (that is just my subjective feeling about it), is that this new performance sounds way more like one unit to me, which it didn't then (maybe due to the technical abilities of 1969). Anyway, the whole piece seems to be a real fusion of band and orchestra to me, they don't sound as separated as they did then. A good example for this is the way the band kicks in in the First Movement, very smoothly and naturally compared to the old version, when one could get the impression the orchestra was so shocked that they had immediately stopped playing.
And of course it is different because there is a different guitar player. I am not going to compare them; that was then, and that was Ritchie, and this is now and it is Steve. Consistently we hear a completely different First Movement here concerning the guitar solo. And Steve takes the chance to prove what an extraordinary player he is. You can actually hear that the man picks every single note. His very special solo starts with a nice phrase, then gets interrupted by Jon and the orchestra before he has all the freedom to solo, using a very special technique hammering a melody on one end of the fretboard with his right hand while playing another melody on the lower end with his left hand. That is some of the finest guitarist's "tricks" I've ever seen and you can practice that for months and months and you still won't be able to do it this way. Anyway, I catch myself rambling here. So let's move on with the preview.... At the end of the Movement there's also a very nice clarinet solo before orchestra and band build up a forte finale.
The Second Movement starts quiet with violins and clarinets/oboes building up the theme. I remember Ian and Steve sitting on a stool together, waiting for their time, right in front of me, a picture of which you can find at my concert review. I couldn't help taking that unusual shot, of course without a flash to not disturb them. Then it's Ian's time for the vocals and he sings lovely. He seems to fit in better than the first time but I can't even explain why. It's just my feeling. While the guitar at the original concerto sounded pretty much the same all the time, Steve is alway changing phrases and sounds. He shows a lot of variation in his playing here. And he's not trying to push himself in the spotlight, he is absolutely integrating himself into the whole orchestra, his playing is very cooperative, without forgetting to set his unmistakable marks here and there in a decent way.
Ian's second part is wonderful, with great and very bluesy playing of Steve's. Jon has an organ solo here where he does the typical "Jon Lord roaring Hammond".
The Third Movement starts furiously with the oboes, horns and percussion. Later Steve kicks in with the theme repeated by Jon. Supported by the whole orchestra, Steve has another solo spot immediately followed by another organ solo. Barely noticed, because always fitting in pefectly, are Roger and Ian. They did a great job during the concerto. The only spotlight for them was that amazing drum solo of Ian's in the middle of the Third Movement. Of course the never ending applause which they got is edited, but that's okay. Who wants to listen to our 5 minute standing ovations on a CD all the time....
Hereafter comes the "rock block" with some Purple songs, re-arranged for the orchestra. It starts with "Ted The Mechanic" which is played a little faster than original. A great song, but maybe not the best pick for that event. There's not much room in this song for an orchestra, which was very quiet (besides of the brass section which outstands here). It wouldn't have been a bad idea to re-write the song for that very occasion, like, let's say, put a little break in it to give the orchestra an extra part, before getting back to the original lines.
Next is "Watching The Sky". A little more orchestral support couldn't have hurt on this one as well, at least during the quiet moments. If you listen carefully you might recognize them here and there, but they're not as prominent as they maybe should be. I don't know if it is mixed like that on purpose. Just my personal taste, they could be a little stronger, not at least to make a difference to the regular version.
"Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" turned out perfect. Being a great song anyway, with the orchestra it became simply perfect. The LSO plays a nice opening and the additional background singers and brass section stick out on that one again. This time you can hear the violins pretty well. I'd say they found the right balance between leaving the song original but turning it into something new without overdoing the orchestra part. A precious jewel, this song.
The CD closes with "Smoke On The Water". For this one, played as the encore then, all the guest musicians entered the stage and joined in. So that makes two drums, two guitars, two basses and the complete orchestra, The Kick Horns and the background chorus. And of course an additional singer! Ronnie sings the second verse! Another great moment, seeing my two favourite singers together on the same stage, Ronnie and Ian. Had I said in an earlier concert review I could give up on that song after 25 years, I must take that back for this occasion. Smoke is reborn here! With all these additions we're listening to a masterpiece. The atmosphere at the RAH can't be captured on a CD of course, but hearing this brings back all the memories and goose bumps for me. I think it is "slightly edited", or maybe it's just my memory tricking me, but I thought it was much longer originally.... anyway, being in the middle of the crowd who rocked the RAH with Smoke that night is one of the unforgettable moments in life. I understand that the European CD release will hold "Smoke" as a video clip on it, but I can't confirm that since I have only a tape copy in my hands.
At the end of my concert review I was saying, while rambing, that I'd go anywhere to see that again, with no idea at all that this might be seriously considered someday, but recently Jon said that there was a chance of more performances since a lot of people were requesting it. Depending on sponsors to be found, it might actually happen again. And I repeat it here: I'll be there.
If you either can't wait that long or don't want to rely on that to happen, I hope I could give you an appetite to get this wonderful CD. It belongs on every Purple fan's shelf. It holds, besides the historical concerto, some wonderful new live versions of both Purple and Purp's solo tunes.
Purple regards to y'all.