Celebrating Jon Lord The Royal Albert Hall 4th April 2014
I am sitting on the 07.00 train from Kings Cross to Newcastle as I write this. Last night I spent the evening with a group of musicians, from the worlds of both classical and rock, and fans who had travelled from around the globe to celebrate the music of Jon Lord. The event was held in the majestic Royal Albert Hall, a venue in which Lord performed many times, and where he premiered his concerto for group and orchestra with Deep Purple some 45 years ago.
As we arrived in the hall, we were greeted by two large video screens on either side of the stage, showing images of Jon. I had a seat on the arena floor, a few rows from the front, to the left of stage centre. A great view.
The evening had been organised by The Sunflower Jam on behalf of the Jon Lord Fellowship for cancer research. The Sunflower Jam is a charity led by Jacky Paice (wife of Ian Paice and twin sister of Jon Lord’s wife Vicky Lord), which organises annual events at the Albert Hall.
The event started promptly at the advertised time of 19.30 with our host Bob Harris welcoming us and introducing the concert. This was an evening of music, celebration and emotion, which started with Ian Paice accompanying his sister-in-law Vicky Lord on stage, for Vicky to say a few words about Jon. The first half of the concert was devoted to Lord’s solo and orchestral compositions and featured the Orion Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann, and our house band of the evening of Murray Gould, Neil Murray, Jerry Brown, Paul Wichens and Nigel Hopkins. The first piece was “Durham Awakes” from the “Durham Concerto” featuring Kathryn Tickell on Northumbrian pipes. This was followed by Steve Balsamo on vocals and Anna Phoebe on violin accompanied by Mickey Moody on guitar, performing “All Those Years”. Then Miller Anderson gave a moving reading of “Pictured Within”. This was followed by Rick Wakeman leading the band in music from “Sarabande” and Margo Buchanan singing “One From The Meadow”. Finally, the first half of the concert closed with Jeremy Irons elegant reading of Thomas Hardy’s “Afterwards”, accompanied by Paul Mann on piano. There was a lot of material that I wasn’t familiar with in the first half of the show; it was good to experience something new and different, performed perfectly and beautifully by a group of musicians who were all there to celebrate the diversity of Jon Lord’s compositions. Bob Harris returned and told us that after the interval “we are going to rock” 🙂 It was 20.45.
The second part of the evening started at 21.10 with Joe Brown, ever the cheeky cockney, who entertained us with a few quips and then introduced Paul Weller. Mod Weller took us back to the ’60s performing two tracks from Jon’s first band The Artwoods. These were fine slabs of Motownish white soul R’n’B: “Things Get Better” and “I Take What I Want”. Great stuff.
Next we were treated to a couple of Paice, Ashton and Lord songs “Silas & Jerome” and “I’m Gonna Stop Drinking” led by the amazing vocalist Phil Campbell, and great blues guitar of Bernie Marsden. Phil is a relatively new vocalist from Scotland and is straight out of the mould of Rod Stewart/Joe Cocker/Chris Robinson. Just perfect wild raucous singing and the right amount of rock’n’roll swagger. Check him out. The high point of the evening (so far). Steve Balsamo and Sandi Thom then performed a beautiful version of the haunting classic “Soldier of Fortune”.
Nothing could have prepared any of us for what came next, which was an amazing performance by Bruce Dickinson and particularly Glen Hughes. They started with “You Keep On Moving”, which was great enough, but then they took the roof of the place with an incendiary version of “Burn”. Everyone on their feet, the two of them sparring vocally, both out-singing each other with their tremendous outstanding vocal ranges. Sorry for all the superlatives, but it was that good. A hall full of old guys punching the air and rocking. Hughes was incredible. It took me back to the time I saw Purple Mk III on the Burn tour. I was struck that night (can it really be 40 years ago?) by Hughes’ over the top performance and his soulful soaring vocals. Last night he was strutting and stalking around the stage, bass aloft, wrestling ever ounce of soul and emotion out of his voice. I have never seen a performance like it; at times he was on his knees, tears running down his cheeks. Yes it was over the top, but you just knew that the guy went out last night determined to deliver the performance of his life, and that he felt and meant every word of it. Electric, and a privilege to experience. Glen Hughes closed this segment of the show with “This Time Around”, which he explained was the only song he wrote with Jon Lord.
Finally it was left to Deep Purple to close the evening, which they did with great style performing a short set of “Uncommon Man”, “Above And Beyond”, “Lazy” (with Bentley Kline on violin sparring with Don Airey on keyboards), the beautiful blues of “When A Blind Man Cries”, the cooking rhythms of “Perfect Strangers” and closing with (what else) a rocking “Black Night” with all of us singing along. Then everyone joined Purple on stage for an encore of “Hush”. Lots of “Nah Nah Nah Nah”s from the stage and the floor. It just doesn’t get much better. For over three and a half hours we were well reminded just how great a musician, composer and man Lord was. RIP Jon Lord.
Host: Bob Harris
Deep Purple: Ian Gillan (vocals), Steve Morse (guitar), Ian Paice (drums), Roger Glover (bass), Don Airey (keyboards).
The Orion Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann.
House band: Murray Gould – guitar, Jerry Brown – drums, Neil Murray – bass, Paul Wichens – keyboards, Nigel Hopkins – piano.
Guests: Miller Anderson – vocals, Steve Balsamo – vocals, Joe Brown – jokes and cockney twang, Margo Buchanan – vocals, Phil Campbell – vocals, Bruce Dickinson – vocals, Nick Fyffe – bass, Glenn Hughes – vocals/bass, Bentley Kline – violin, Paul Mann – piano, Bernie Marsden – guitar, tMickey Moody – guitar, Anna Phoebe – violin, Sandi Thom – vocals, Kathryn Tickell – Northumbrian pipes, Rick Wakeman – keyboards, Paul Weller – vocals/guitar
It was truly an amazing night. However, I have to say that I came away feeling a few things were missing. First, Blackmore and Coverdale. Now we all knew Blackmore was never going to attend, but some of us lived in a vain hope that past issues might have been forgotten, and that he may have made an appearance. On the other hand, it is of course up to him how he wishes to remember Lord, and his new song in Jon’s memory sees a return to his old style. I understand Coverdale couldn’t make it; again a big miss. I also expected to hear some of the “Concerto”, particularly given the occasion and the venue. A strange omission. And finally I had hoped for “Child in Time”. I know Purple don’t play it any more, but a version by the house band with a guest vocalist might have been possible. Sorry to niggle about what was an incredible event.
The images are all photographed from the concert programme.
Archive for the ‘Jon Lord’ Category
Celebrating Jon Lord The Royal Albert Hall 4th April 2014
Jon Lord Usher Hall Edinburgh 5 October 2009
I’ve alway liked Deep Purple’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra album, and I regret that I never saw them perform it live in concert. I remember seeing it on TV in the late ’60s and bought the lp at the time. I used to play that album and the Moodie’s Days of Future Past again and again on my record player. So when I saw that Jon Lord was planning to perform the work at the Usher Hall I couldn’t resist buying a ticket. The concert sounded pretty interesting from the word go. The plan was for Jon to rehearse with young music students from Stevenson College in Edinburgh and from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow. These young people would be the group for the night and also form members of the orchestra. Sounded like a great opportunity for some young scottish musicians to work and perfrom with a legend. The final performance was to be with Jon Lord, a 100 piece orchestra and the group of young musicians. The Usher Hall has recently reopened after being refurbsihed. So this seemed a great opportunity to see one of my favourite pieces of music performed in a great setting.
As it happened I was feeling pretty tired on Monday night; I was still recovering from the trip to London to see Mott the Hoople a couple of days earlier; and couldn’t really face the 250 ml round drive to Edinburgh after work. But I convinced myself it would be worthwhile. I arrived in Edinburgh around 7pm and went into the Usher Hall to find my seat and buy a programme (a bargain at £2!).
The first half of the show consisted of Phil Cunningham, traditional musicians and the orchestra from the Royal Scottish Academy and Stevenson College playing some traditional tunes. This was a nice start to the evening and brought us to the interval at around 8pm.
Around 8.30pm the lights went down and Jon Lord, Stevenson’s six piece rock band Concertium and the orchestra took to the stage. The conductor for the evening was Paul Mann who has conducted this work with Jon before. The Concerto is in three movements; Slow, Fast and Slow as Jon told us. The performance stayed true to the original and was played brilliantly by the young musicians, most of whom were first year students. The three movements seemed to be over in no time at all. The band were first class, the guitar solos were fluid and seemed improvised yet also stayed true to the original as played by Ritchie Blackmore. The vocalist, Grant Barclay, was superb. And Jon’s swirling Hammond (hired, I noticed, from Vintage Hammond Hire Scotland!) took us all back to the 60s. This was a concert unlike any I have ever seen, blending orchestral music with rock in the unique way that the Concerto does. After a standing ovation, the musicians returned to the stage and Jon introduced us to ” a song from the same period”. The first few notes of Child in Time raised an immediate cheer from the audience and we were treated to a breath-taking version of the Purple classic with faultless vocals from Grant Barclay. As Paul Mann said at the end “Ian Gillan would have been proud”.
The show was over at around 9.45, and I reached home shortly after midnight, tired but pleased that I had gone. The concert was excellent; something that I will remember for a long time, and I may not gate the chance to see performed again.