At The Hell Blues Festival, Norway, September 14, 2003

Former Deep Purple member Jon Lord just visited Hell. Hell is, as well as the biblical opponent to Heaven, the name of this little place in the middle of Norway (Not kidding!).

Yours sincerely happened to live the first three years of his life in Hell, and now, every year, I’m proud to travel back to the place where I rocked in my cradle, to visit the annual blues festival here–Hell Blues Festival.

The past few years, the festival has become so much more than just a festival celebrating the blues. It has as well established a tradition on classic rock concerts. Last year, the arrangers succeeded in getting Glenn Hughes, Joe Lynn Turner and Ronnie James Dio visiting the festival, who put on great shows. Former Whitesnake guitarists Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody have played there a heap of times, even once recording one of their sessions (The Moody Marsden Band – Unplugged, Live in Hell /94). Three years ago, Jon Lord and Deep Purple arrived and brought with them a symphony orchestra, performing their Concerto For Group and Orchestra. This event took place in the biggest indoor location to be found in the surroundings of Hell, an airport hangar! Enough about the festival’s history. This year, Jon Lord came back, but under his own name, and not Deep Purple’s. So what is Lord doing these days, then, not being a Purple-member for about two years? Well, you might look upon it as he’s promoting his solo albums — 1975’s Sarabande, 1981’s Before I Forget and 1998’s Pictured Within. Another way to see it is that he’s simply playing the music closest to his heart … the music that probably has been closest to his heart always. And among others, he has with him the great voices of Miller Anderson and Sam Brown, and the strings of Trondheimssolistene, a Norwegian string orchestra. This is far from hard rock!

Even though given the main space on the Festival Program, they couldn’t really keep the man in Hell this time. A hangar wouldn’t treat Lord’s repertoire well enough. The concert therefore took place in Nidarosdomen in Trondheim, some miles south of Hell. Nidarosdomen is Norway’s biggest cathedral.

Here the grand piano had taken the organ’s place, and the huge audience were for once sitting rather than standing. Lord wouldn’t even be close to playing anything from any Deep Purple recording.

He started out with three tracks from his latest solo effort, Pictured Within, all melancholy stuff, and works his way through various numbers from his solo recording. And the atmosphere was cathedral worthy: heavenly. Trondheimssolistene is a group of excellent players, knowing their stuff impressively well without having had the opportunity to play live for an audience with the piano virtuous before. Lord himself proved himself to be a great great team player! Here, no show offs were in sight. He made his piano playing be an integral part of the sound, trying to achieve a musical whole rather than focusing on himself. He communicated with his fellow musicians in an absolutely professional way, even once leaving the stage while an extended version of “Music for Miriam: (a composition made for his late mother) was performed by the Trondheimssolistene. Lord is by the way considering using this string orchestra for his next solo album.

Even though the clock reached towards twelve, midnight, the audience asked for more. So, being in Norway, Lord then performed compositions by the world known Norwegian composer Edward Grieg, of whom Jon Lord allegedly is a big admirer. I remember Purple’s show in Oslo in 1993, promoting their The Battle Rages On album. Lord spent the second half of the concert’s first hour playing a solo consisting of several parts of Grieg’s music. Not what people came to hear then, but I don’t blame him, being in the home country of his idol.

Then the event reached a rather pointless part. As extra singer Sam Brown was given the stage for free disposition. This might have been a good idea in daylight, but at this time of the night it was Lord’s play and presence that kept people’s interest. Brown performed two songs, and even though the first one included the use of George Harrison’s ukulele, and the second one was “Stop”, her big hit in the ’80s, and the both were sung more then well, the whole thing seemed very misplaced.

Then Lord reappeared on the stage performing his own melody, “Bouree,” ending an event that will stick to the memories of those present for a very long time. Jon Lord passed an exam, proving he’s a caretaker of quality music in different shapes. The aged man could leave the cathedral proud, knowing from the response of the audience there will be a place for him in music for a long, long time.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.