Jon Lord Memorial Concert • review
(Photo by Moth Clark)
Royal Albert Hall / April 6 2014
A moving musical evening of highs and… well, more highs really. Divided in two – like Jon’s musical career, you could argue (I know, I know), the show began with Ian Paice leading an understandably nervous and emotional Vicky Lord onto the stage to speak about the man we were all here to honour. The Orion Orchestra and conductor Paul Mann then began the musical proceedings with a stirring rendition of ‘Fantasia’ from Jon’s excellent mid-70’s ‘Sarabande’ album before easing into the more recent ‘Durham Awakes’. The familiar figure of Micky Moody arrived on stage along with Steve Balsamo who sang ‘All Those Years Ago’ (the ‘new’ Jon song released along with the photo book). A heartfelt vocal from Steve left the audience spellbound. Miller Anderson arrived and everyone guessed what was coming next. What can you say about ‘Pictured Within’? Here in all its glory was Jon’s ode to love and loss. Was there a dry eye in the house? I suspect not. Rick Wakeman arrived for the title track from ‘Sarabande’, sounding great with the full orchestral backing as well. Margo Buchanan then sang the quite lovely ‘One from the Meadow’ before the final ‘Sarabande’ piece, the jaunty ‘Bouree’. The finale of the first part of the evening came with actor Jeremy Irons reading ‘Afterwards’ – whereas on the ‘To Notice Such Things’ album his words had been accompanied by Jon on piano, tonight it was down to conductor Paul Mann : a daunting act to follow no doubt, but Paul played it beautifully and the audience duly erupted in praise at the final note. The interval was announced after which compere ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris promised it would be “time to rock”.
The second half kicked-off with Joe Brown – not in a performing role, instead delivering his eulogy to Jon, saying how much the man (and his family) meant to him. He then introduced Paul Weller. A few eyebrows were raised when Paul was added to the bill, but any doubts were swept aside as Paul and the house band whipped through 2 sprightly Artwood covers – ‘I Take What I Want’ and ‘Things Get Better’. Paul’s style was perfectly suited to these. Job done he left to make way for familiar Purple and family members Paicey, Bernie Marsden and Nick Fyffe, who along with Hammond player Andy Wallace and The Temperance Movement’s frontman Phil Campbell tore into PAL ‘s ‘Silas and Jerome’ – seriously impressive stuff, not least from Campbell who may have the Jagger-swagger, but delivered Tony Ashton’s vocal lines with considerable aplomb. More PAL followed with ‘I’m Gonna Stop Drinking’. Another swift personnel changeover and Jon’s arrangement of ‘Soldier of Fortune’ followed with sensitive and touching vocal deliveries by Steve Balsamo and Sandi Thom. This was followed by the arrival of Glenn Hughes and Bruce Dickinson (with Paicey, Don and Rick Wakeman) for a rousing ‘You Keep on Moving’ – great version with members of the orchestra singing along. Members of the audience leapt to their feet as the opening riff of ‘Burn’ erupted (a song about ‘the devil’s perm’ Bruce assured us) – a very lively delivery with great work from all concerned. Bruce seemed a little low in the mix, but hopefully it will all come out in the wash… or the remix even. Wix Wickens arrived at the piano to accompany Glenn (along with the orchestra) for ‘This Time Around’. Some have grumbled about Glenn’s delivery here – but to me he is Glenn Hughes and this is what he does (and the delivery was probably a bit ‘straighter’ than he did with DP Mk IV live). And then….Deep Purple. Taking to the stage with ‘Uncommon Man’ was a nice statement of intent – this wasn’t an ‘ordinary’ Purple show (if there is such a thing) – a further reminder of the reason we were all here. ‘Above and Beyond’ followed (of course) gaining greater majesty thanks to the orchestral backing. ‘Lazy’ included Stephen Bentley-Klein on violin duelling with Steve (as he had on the orchestral tour a couple of years back). ‘Perfect Strangers’ with added orchestra (including the addition of Jon’s orchestral introduction) threatened to flip the RAH roof into Hyde Park whilst ‘Black Night’ which followed allowed the audience to blow off some steam by singing along (Steve doing his call-and-response guitar trick). The grand finale (for which most of the evening’s cast returned to the stage) was a version of ‘Hush’ which seemed to last for ages (but in no way out-stayed its welcome) – some great duelling between both Steve and Don with Rick Wakeman (at one point it seemed to take Rick a little while to realise they’d been quoting part of Yes’s ‘Roundabout’ at him!) – good fun and a fitting end to a wonderful event. Hearty congratulations to all those involved. Can’t wait for the DVD!
Well I’ve made it back and had a couple of days to gather my thoughts.
It was great to see so many people all at the RAH for one thing – to Celebrate the life times and the music of MR JON LORD. A lump in my throat as Ian Paice lead Vicky Lord onto the stage (I’ve had the privilege of meeting them before in happier times). Vicky was so gracious and appreciative of the hard work that had gone into putting the evening together. Ian Pace said Vicky had never been on stage before and stood by offering her reassurance through a heartfelt speech. After the applause Bob Harris introduced Fantasia from Sarabande; the orchestra were joined by the house band of House Band: Nigel Hopkins Wix Wicken, Murray Gould, Jerry Brown, Neil Murray and Mario Argandon. Next up it was Durham Awakes from the superb Durham Concerto, Kathryn Tickell (who Jon introduced me to in Liverpool) on the Northumbria pipes. Then All Those Years Ago with Steve Balsamo and Micky Moody and a Paul Mann Orchestration. It was tears (for me) with Pictured Within sung by the one and only Miller Anderson, before Rick Wakeman helped me regain myself with Sarabande, followed in quick succession by One From The Meadow and the fantastic Boureé with a great new intro written by Jon and Paul Mann. The first half was closed for a short 15 minute break followed before Bob Harris said it was time to rock. Paul Weller did two Artwoods tracks I Take What I Want and Things Get Better. Then we got the highlight, PAL’s Silas & Jerome, followed by I’m Gonna Stop Drinking with Ian Pace, Bernie Marsden and Nick Fyffe. Moving on we had Soldier of Fortune, orchestrated by Jon, which was very moving. Glenn Hughes was then joined by Bruce Dickinson, Ian Paice, Don Airey and Rick Wakeman for You Keep on Moving and Burn then the only song Jon and Glenn wrote together, This Time Around. It was then time for DEEP PURPLE who did Uncommon Man, Above and Beyond, Lazy, When a Blind Man Cries and Perfect Strangers with a new orchestration, and closed with Black Night and Hush. One great jam, one great man.