Sunday, November 11, 2007

Deep Purple, Palasport, Pordenone

Bass guitarist Roger Glover said the following in Deep Purple’s 2006 “Live At Montreux” DVD (where the band basically got it’s international fame due to the recording of their epic song there, “Smoke On The Water” which was part of their LP “Machine Head”): “We basically started as a jamming band”.

And that’s certainly the impression I got taking in their great concert on November 9th, 2007, in the small town of Pordenone. There were about 5,000 of us diehard Deep Purple fans on hand for a great little jamming concert by one of the world’s great former hard rock bands, the second time for me after their 2003 concert in Rome (see prior posting for more details).

Lead singer Ian Gillan at 62 years of age was in splendid form voice-wise pushing his vocal cords indeed to the limit (and once again he was barefoot too!). I was (perhaps) one of the few people in the crowd who knew of the significance of what he was wearing on his t-shirt: the red poppy which is a sign of respect for the fallen soldiers of the World Wars during the Remembrance Day holiday which falls on November 11 each year. The poppy is mostly used in the Commonwealth countries. Indeed a nice touch by Gillan.

Drummer Ian Paice (the first original member of the band I believe), while a few kilos overweight, was nevertheless worthy of the title of one of the world's great drummers, as was Glover's playing on the bass guitar (it is in fact Glover, upon waking up one morning in Montreux, who actually gave the title to the song, “Smoke On The Water”. To this day he doesn’t know if the words came to him in a dream or whether he had been influenced by the smoke that had hovered over Lake Geneva after the Casino had burned down there during a Frank Zappa concert in December, 1971). And Don Airey, Jon Lord’s worthy successor on the keyboards, was certainly NO amateur either that night. A nice touch on his part for Italian fans: during his solo he even played a few bars of “Nessun Dorma” which had been made famous the world over by Luciano Pavarotti (and his “Vincero’”)!

Replacing Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, the author of the world’s most famous guitar riff (the one regarding "Smoke On The Water") was America’s Steve Morse who's been with the band now for several years. His solo also included some chords in honour of Lynyrd Skynyrd ("Sweet Home Alabama"), Led Zeppelin and Guns ‘N’ Roses, quite the original thing to do actually. After nearly 2 hours of solid rock’n’roll they concluded with one encore and “Tush” by Joe Smith (their first single in 1968) and “Black Night”.

At one point during the show you could see Gillan cracking up. I had found out later from one of their diehard groupies (who's only seen 80 of their shows so far on this tour!) that Paice had thrown his drumstick at his drum technician, only to hit him straight in the head! After so many years of being on the road, I guess for these "oldies" of the rock world, it's exactly the type of spirit to have, isn't it? And from some of the pics, you can really tell that they had a good time that night in Pordenone!

Walking away I would say that pretty-well all 5,000 present thought that the price of the ticket (35 euros) had been VERY well spent that night as Gillan and his old mates really put on a great show and made a fantastic effort to bring back A LOT of great memories of me growing up as a teenager and listening to songs such as "Smoke On The Water" non-stop on the car radio (as we'd go cruising around the city "trying" to pick up chicks"!). All pics by M. Rimati

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Deep Purple, Centrale del Tennis, Rome 2003

Deep Purple was once part of the Guinness book of records as the world’s loudest band (I think that they were once clocked at 100,000 decibels)! Their epic album, “Machine Head”, which contains probably THE world’s most famous guitar riff (along with Jimmy Page’s opening bars to “Stairway To Heaven”), “Smoke On The Water”, came out in 1972. I still remember as a teenager going to my high school dances in Winnipeg at Kelvin High (the same attended by a certain Neil Young!) and there would actually be live bands that would (try) playing “Smoke On The Water”! It was kind of funny because the guitarists, younger or even the same age as me, couldn’t quite get it right. But they were always a zillion times better than me and my friends (as back then I certainly didn’t play guitar and I still don’t!) as we’d be directly under the stage and in awe watching these bands have a go at Deep Purple.

The band that showed up in Rome in 2003, perhaps the greatest year so far for me and concerts (Paul McCartney, Yes, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, the Stones, Jethro Tull and Procol Harum) consisted of lead singer Ian Gillan (all dressed up in white and barefoot!), drummer Ian Paice (who’s also played a few years ago with Paul McCartney and David Gilmour on Sir Paul’s “Live at the Cavern Club” DVD) and bass guitarist Roger Glover, some of the original members of the legendary band (Paice, Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore were there from the very beginning back in 1968). Lord and the author of that memorable riff, guitarist Blackmore, unfortunately weren't in Rome though. Blackmore's place was taken by the great Steve Morse (there’s also Don Airey on keyboards who’s also played with Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow and Whitesnake, which I saw at the MontrĂ©al Forum with David Coverdale who once sang with Deep Purple).

They played most of their big hits, including “Burn”, one of my favourites, and "Woman From Tokyo". At one point, towards the end of the concert, Morse started in with one of those strange guitar solos which no one present really understood. And then, all of a sudden and unexpectedly, he broke into the opening riff of “Smoke On The Water”, and pretty well all 15,000 of us present went bonkers! Nice to hear that in 2005 at Bob Geldof's "Live 8" concert in Barrie, Canada, 35,000 people showed up to watch Deep Purple.

Great memories of the 1970s and those high school dances in Winnipeg (all pics by M. Rimati)!

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