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
I've had the pleasure of listening to the "new" Concerto CD for almost a week now... And I have - a lot! It's a wonderful "souvenir" for those of us who had the chance to witness the event, and it brings back a lot of memories!
Of course it's very hard to put the magical atmosphere of the concert on a piece of plastic (or two), and if I have to say something negative about the record, it is that the diversity of CD1 may be too much for some listeners. At the RAH it felt very natural with the first set of the concert, but here some of the in-between talk and applauses are edited away, (for obvious reasons - you probably don't want to have too long time between the songs each time you listen them). I think and hope though, that the video/DVD will catch the atmosphere better... This problem is much smaller on CD2, with its obvious two parts of the Concerto itself and then the rocksongs, of which Pix of Home is on CD1, as the second set was close to 85 minutes and didn't fit on one CD.
It's great to hear DP in this "free" format, where they don't have to be "only" a hardrockband. I really hope the guys will remember this happening when they record their next studio album, and not limit that to another rockalbum. Anyone who listens to this album realises what a potential this band has, STILL has! They can very well be as progressive as they were in the early 70s, if they only dared(?) and were allowed to do it by everyone involved (record companies etc). Just think about a mixture of "Accidentally on Purpose" and "Malice in Wonderland" with a little spice of Dexie Dregs... :) Enough of that now, and back to this album...
As you know it's almost the complete show, the only song missing is Steve's "Night Meets Day". It starts of perfectly gently with Jon's two songs from his latest soloalbum, Pictured Within (featuring Miller Anderson) and Wait A While (featuring Sam Brown). Lovely versions of these songs, although I think I prefer the studio versions, which seem to be a bit more dynamic and bring the listener closer to the music. They are followed by the two Butterfly Ball songs; Sitting In A Dream & Love Is All (both featuring Ronnie James Dio). From what I remember, the standing ovation for Ronnie seems to be a bit shorter on this record than it was at the concert... Really great to here these songs live with Ronnie! The strings are very present in Sitting in a Dream and the whole orchestra makes Love Is All heavy (not as in heavy metal though) and powerful. BUT I actually think that it's during these first four songs, where that "magical atmosphere", VERY present at the concert, is slightly missing at this CD... Next up is the Gillan/Glover song Via Miami, which earns a lot from the horn section, making the song really groovy, I prefer this version to the original studio version! It's followed by That's Why God Is Singing The Blues from IG's latest soloalbum. I thought this was the "lowpoint" of the concert, and so I think of this album... Ian has sooo many songs from his past that he could have done instead - just think of a symphonic version of "Brazos"... It's followed by only one of the Steve Morse Band's two songs. I really wonder where the other one disappeared??? I suppose it has to do with technical problems, or that Steve wasn't satisfied with the versions, or some old "contractual" problem... Anyhow, Take It Off The Top, with Graham Preskett on violin, is a perfect combination of musical showmanship and a strong melody, that rare combination that Jeff Beck has blessed us with now and then... The first set ended with Wring That Neck. Ian Paice and the Kick Horns!!! (along with Rog, Jon and once again Preskett on violin - no guitar on this track). This is FUN! When I was at the RAH, I thought, is that it? It should be longer! More improvisations! When I heard the CD the first time, I had the same thought, but then I realised... This could be a HIT! Just think if some radiostations would start to play this... (Maybe a wee bit bigger chance now that Paicey plays with Sir Paul?) I played this to my my father, who's a fan of some of Jon's and Paicey's "idols", like Crupa and Jimmy Smith... He said - "so they had a full big band on stage?" :) The hornsection is really powerful indeed!!! And of course great solos from all the guys! Gee, I really think DP should bring along a hornsection on their next tour and play songs like this and Via Miami... :) The first CD ends with Pictures Of Home, which to me seems a bit out-of-place on this CD, but that's maybe because I "know" it should be in the rockset at CD2... :) But it is a great version of this (almost forgotten) Machine Head classic. It starts with a two minute intro from the orchestra, which is very pianissimo but suddenly the drumroll wakes us up from our gentle dreams... Really a perfect choice from the albums from the 70s to pick this song for this occasion!
Most of CD2 is the "Concerto For Group & Orchestra". I guess I could write pages about this, but to put it short: It's sooo much more powerful and dynamic compared to the 1969version! The musicians in the orchestra are sooo much more concentrated and focused on the music! They really seem to enjoy it, just listen to the oboe solo at the end of the 1st movement... :) Also Jon, Paicey, Rog and especially Ian G, seem to be sooo much more comfortable (although maybe they were just as nervous) this time around... Furthermore, the rearrangements have all improved the whole epic, the powerful crescendo at the ending of the 1st movement, the longer version of the Andante 2nd movement (which to me in the 1969 version, almost seemed like an excuse for bringing in the vocalist) and also the small changes in the 3rd movement, where the mighty and powerful finale puts an suitable end to the whole Concerto! What about Steve Morse then??? Can he replace the old banjoplayer? Well in my ears he definitely can! To me, he's a much more suitable guitarist when it comes to symphonic music, most evident in the 1st movement when the rock group appears for the first time and maybe even more during the end of both the 1st and the 3rd movement! I'm not sure though if I prefer his guitarsolo compared to Ritchies, guess that time will tell... Some people will probably think that Steve is a bit too technical and I'm very sure that this will get the silly comparison discussion going again...
CD2 also contains four of the songs from the ending rock set. It starts up with Ted The Mechanic, where once again the hornsection proves that they should come along on the next tour!!! :) Great groovy version of this one! If I had had the chance to pick 5 songs for the rockset before the concert, I'd probably not chosen Ted, but this proves me wrong! Watching The Sky is my favourite from Abanon (actually the only song I "really" like on that album). Not much rearranged from the ordinary live version, but the hornsection makes the heavy parts heavier and the orchestra makes the gentle parts even more gentle... :) Still, my favourite in this set is Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming! It has always been a very beautiful song and with the strings on top of it, and the choir helping Ian with some of the vocals, and probably an even more tasteful guitarsolo from Steve than usually... I'm lost for words on this one... :) Well, then it ends with "the encore", Smoke On The Water. I'm VERY tired of this song, but at the RAH it was THE perfect showstopper! With all the guest-musicians returning to the stage and everyone just being very HAPPY (can't find any better word to describe it...) Of course this is impossible to put down on this CD, some people will maybe even think it just sounds strange with Ronnie singing the 2nd verse... But it all was some sort of definition of supreme happiness...
Did I say I like the album? Well, if I forgot that... I do! :)
Sadly I guess this album will end up filed under Hard Rock / Heavy Metal / Deep Purple and ONLY reviewed by "Rock (or worse - Metal) magasines", by some tone deaf head banger. And people will still think that DP ONLY is a hardrockband, or even worse "used to be"...