Olympic Sports Hall
March 19, 2002
So they're back in Russia, the only place on Earth (Japan not included) where they are not loved but admired, where information on the band is gathered from pieces and passed athrob from father to son. Their fourth visit to Russia is like the first one, unique and exceptional, given the decades of the passionate wait. Maybe the 1998 gig was far from fine, with stuffy Gillan, other musicians resembling frozen figurants and only Morse improvising inspiredly to save the show. However the closure of the 1996 festival so was great and ass-kicking, and the renewed 2000 program so bright and afflated that all the fans were waiting for the fourth coming. So they're back in Russia…
Day One. The Great Ones and Me
Having obtained accreditation for the press conference, MetalKings.com reporters Lynx and (yours truly) Fireball arrived at the British embassy with a mighty company of journalists of all kinds and Deep Purple fan club members that differed from the rest by the hippie appearance and noisy behaviour. In spite of usual troubles such as the band being a little late, hustle in the first rows and questionable quality of translation, the press conference was a success. The five gentlemen that appeared before us were a sight to see. Imposing and relaxed, but still charismatic Ian Gillan, wearing a suit and sporting a short haircut, his fellow bandmembers Glover, Morse and Paice in more rock'n'rollish outfits, and the new keyboard player Don Airey, who turned to be a very nice and modest person, looking younger than the rest of Deep Purple and with a constant smile on his face. The news of Jon Lord's departure has been published on the Internet, but still we wanted to learn the details from the people directly involved. That is why the first question was logical.
to Jon Lord, why did he leave and is it possible that he would work on the
band's new album?
Ian: It's possible, yes. This has been going for a long time… Jon has been thinking of leaving about a quite few times over the last two or three years… a couple of years… and Jon was with us during the touring last year except the few days in the UK and he's decided to concentrate on his composition. But we're all very friendly with him together for a long time, we're good buddies, we've written four or five songs… What we've got on the next album - we haven't got a clue yet. But we're very close to Jon and he's here in spirit. Don was with us on the European days this year… so… here he is now!
The conference lasted for 20 minutes, not many questions were asked and not all of them were interesting and up to the point. Therefore I'm quoting only those that seemed fresh and not trivial. Roger, as far as I know your daughter sings on your latest record. Do you think she will have a solo career in singing and in general, is it possible for the daughter of such a father to have an independent career in music?
Roger: Oh, yes. Trity sings on my album, but the album's not released yet, and will not come out till August so no one's had it. Mind you, I haven't been on the Internet like this, who knows. Yeah, the thing about having children if you're a musician is you're very worried about not pushing them into any kind of career. And I, all I wanna do really is to be a father, not any kind of musical figure for her. So, her ambitions in life whether it's gonna be, whatever she's gonna be are entirely after her. And she will have my encouragement. But she won't have my any other kind of influence. But at least she's not a drummer. (laughter and animation in the room)
Will there be more anniversary editions of your albums?
Roger: Actually, there have been some editions of all the albums we did in 70s - "Deep Purple In Rock", "Fireball", "Who Do We Think We Are", "Machime Head". They were 25 years aniversary albums, so the next one will be "Burn"… Anyway we look in the future…
A question to Don Airey, were you surprised when you found out the title of the latest Ozzy Osbourne album?
Don: And what's the title?
"Down To Earth"
Don: Oh, Down To Earth, right (laughter in the room)! Not as surprised as I was by the cover!
After the news conference I managed to exchange a couple of words with the musicians when they were signing all kinds of stuff.
Mr. Glover, how about making a second solo album together with Mr. Gillan?
Roger: If we have time - we'll talk about it… We enjoyed that album…
Mr. Airey, how did you get involved in the latest Metalium album?
Don: I didn't even see them. I played my keyboard parts and mailed them to the band. We never saw each other in the studio.
Mr. Gillan, do you remember playing with Pretty Maids?
Ian: Sure, yeah, yeah!
Why this particular band, you must be getting tons of invitations from other combos?
Ian: Oh yeah, it was just a drunk thing. We were just having fun in the studio, it has nothing to do with music… everybody was drunk, I also was assholed… They told me, let's record it, and I agreed…
Day Two. From a Distance. (written in collaboration with Reverend St. George "The Rumbler")
A band of national importance (does anybody need proof of the fact that Deep Purple is a band of national importance in Russia?) will always have full houses when it comes to that nation, no matter how many times they've been there or no matter how expensive the tickets are. It's like a parade or a national holiday, when entire families and people of all ages come to see it, somebody willing to remember the good ol' days, somebody to listen to good music and others just to have a good time. That is why the traffic jam on the nearby street, crowds of people coming out of the underground, queues at all beer-selling installations even at remote approaches to the venue and smother at the main entrance to the hall were of no surprise to us.
The show started almost on time and therefore unexpectedly. The backdrop was decorated by a huge moon covered with clouds that was changing its colour after each song. The venue was never notable for fantastic light shows, but the illumination of the lunar landscape in the background of the band really pleased us with versatility and competent choice of colours.
Of course, many people were first of all wondering whether Gillan's voice was in good shape and how Airey's keyboards would sound. The response was provided by the opener "Woman From Tokyo". It's no secret that Gillan's voice has become considerably worse in the past few years, and I would not love to witness the final demise of the strongest vocals in the history of rock. "It's a bitter compliment, but nothing's changed for the worse," we concluded and with pleasure placed on record Don Airey's great performance of the keyboard solo. It became obvious at once that the band fully trusted the new player, and that Airey was feeling comfortable, his solos were confident and the classic sound of Hammond XB2 had a prominent share in the overall sound as it was in Lord's times.
To our great pleasure, the band never gets tired of reshuffling the set list, and the all-time classic package of "Smoke On The Water", "Speed King", "Perfect Strangers" and "Black Night" was complemented by unexpected tracks that were seldom or never performed live. It's definitely worth noting that this great combo that mixes fantastic tightness and improvisation performed those obscure tracks as wonderfully as ageless blockbusters. What would you say about long-forgotten "Mary Long", the band's first hit "Hush" or even the 1970s anthem "Child In Time"? As soon as the musicians struck the first chords, the house burst in applause and thousands of cigarette lighters were lit all over the place - the people were welcoming the popular hit. For the first time since the Ian Gillan Band visited the Soviet Union in 1990 the sixth part of the land was treated to "Child In Time". Even though Gillan told a news conference that the band might perform that track nobody believed it but it indeed happened. Of course, Ian failed to produce that legendary vocal bridge for which the song is famous, but he was assisted by Steve Morse and replaced the highest vocal lines with his guitar.
Shortly after that Deep Purple surprised the audience with an instrumental tune from a yet unreleased album. If one closed his eyes, he got an impression that he was at the Yngwie Malmsteen show, for the track was neoclassic all over - extremely tough high-speed playing of Steve Morse made the song very uncharacteristic of Deep Purple's traditional repertoire.
Of course, I cannot but mention the keyboard solo of the raw recruit Airey - he was not copying Lord, but the ghost of the gray-haired master was behind each passage he produced. In fact, Lord is a player of the same school that has the same spirit of the 1970s in him. After all, Ritchie Blackmore would have never admitted a person whose playing was below Lord's standards to perform in Rainbow. The audience responded at once when the keyboardist performed the immortal "Moscow Nights" and kept up the pace with the bouncy "Kalinka-Malinka", a traditional Russian song. Many aged fans of the band that yours truly had a chance to speak to after the show were complaining that "there is not enough soul in Airey's performance" and that "Lord is better". I disagree with them for I believe that Airey was no worse than Lord and that a part of his soul is still in the 1970s. In addition, Lord told the news conference that he had a classical education in music, so his professionalism is beyond any doubt. More surprises were yet to come. Steve Morse's guitar improvisations started with a dedication to the late George Harrison - a moving performance of 1969's "Here Comes The Sun". This was followed by a fragment of Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love", which is considered by many the first hard rock song ever. Being a true American, Morse couldn't pass by such cult bands from the New World as ZZ Top and AC/DC and performed themes from "Burger Man" and "Back In Black" respectively. To top it all off, he played the final solo from "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin and ventured into "Smoke On The Water" that needs no description.
Roger Glover's bass solo surpassed all expectations, it's not by chance that Deep Purple musicians call Roger a failed solo guitarist that abandoned his six-string sting once upon a time. The mixed playing technique was obvious, and it was hard to tell whether it was bass or guitar playing if you were not looking at the stage at that moment. Such a thing had never been performed in Moscow, moreover, I have never heard about Glover's solo pieces released on official CDs or bootlegs. After the bass solo the band played a medley of classic 1950s tunes that comprised "High School Confidential", one of the first hits of Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley's ballad "It's Now Or Never". The show climaxed with the traditional ending tune, "Highway Star", which was the only predictable moment of the performance, for this hymn to speed has been present in the set lists of all Deep Purple concerts for nearly 30 years.
Regardless of quality of Deep Purple's next album, the band's concerts remain an example of live rock shows. At the same time, I wouldn't like to see the musicians sticking to their old material and not creating new songs that would match the classics in power and sincerity.
2. Vavoom : Ted the Mechanic
3. Mary Long
5. Child In Time
6. The Aviator
7. No One Came
8. Well Dressed Guitar (instrumental)
10. keyboard solo contains fragments of the songs : Midnight In Moscow / Kalinka
11. Perfect Strangers
12. When a Blind Man Cries
13. guitar solo contains fragments of the songs :
Here Comes the Sun / Sunshine Of Your Love / Burger Man / Back In Black / Stairway To Heaven
14. Smoke On the Water
15. Speed King featuring : drum solo / bass solo / It's Now Or Never / High School Confidential
17. Black Night
18. Highway Star
/ Reverend St. George "the Rumbler"
Special thanks to Margarita Nekrasova (SAV Entertainment) for accreditation
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