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Back to Europe 2004/2005

Jon Lord & The Gemini Orchestra
St. Wendel (Saalbau)
September 29, 2004

by Catrin Wiegand

First some notes about the location and event itself. As HK Audio explain on their website: "Jon Lord Concert at HK Audio: Jon Lord, former member of Deep Purple and long-time friend of HK AUDIO, is debuting his new album "Beyond the Notes" in Germany this September. Accompanying Mr. Lord will be his 25-piece "Gemini Orchestra." Rehearsals for the upcoming concert will be held in the HK AUDIO demo hall at our facilities in St. Wendel, Germany. The tour will officially begin in February 2005."

The concert at the Saalbau (which is not the facility of HK Audio but a small concert hall in the city of St. Wendel) was not only the first show of the tour but also the presentation of a new sound system from HK Audio. And it was not promoted by a promoter but by themselves in the region only. Therefore the audience consisted of three equally big parts (of about 200-300 each): HK Audio guests and partners, people from the area that had nothing better to do that evening and fans that had heard about this special show.

Before the general audience was allowed into the venue there was a short intro of the system - the best news for me was that the "sound man" for the show was Rob Hodgkinson (formerly Deep Purple's sound engineer as well). But the doors opened soon after that so that everybody had about equal chances to get the best seats (tickets were not numbered). The side of the room opposite of the entrances was covered with a curtain. When the concert was about to begin the curtain on the other site was drawn, too. This caused some laughter - but it was very good for the sound. Really excellent sound! Purple curtains, btw ;-)

The introduction (by Christian Stumpp of HK Audio) was nice: short but not too short, to the point and making clear that Jon Lord is/was doing far more than being a member of a certain rock band. Mentioning the Concerto Jon Lord is "the godfather of cross-over" (obviously the style of his solo activities from now…).

First on stage were the Trondheim Soloists, getting a big applause. When Jon finally entered the stage the applause was enormous. Jon spent most of the time at the grand piano using the microphone adjusted to it. But about every second song he stood up and went to the center stage vocal microphone (so Sam Brown had to adjust it every time she came on
stage ;-).

Already the first piece made it clear that there are lots of new arrangements for bigger orchestra (during the Pictured Within Tour there was only a string quartet) and different band. Jon always referred to Sarabande as "an album I made 30 years ago". It seems obvious that he also made some 'corrections' to it (like he did for the Concerto in 1999). Most of them appeared to have been extended. The orchestra as well as the band on stage was very much the same (with the exception of Pete York / Bert Smaak on drums) that recorded Beyond The Notes, and the arrangements for those tracks weren't too different from the album.

01 Sarabande (Sarabande, 1976)
Sounds very fresh, Jon afterwards announced it very much to the point as "title track from Sarabande called Sarabande". [He'll have heard Ian Gillan introduce Perfect Strangers that way for 18 years ;-) Rasmus] Several musicians seemed to be pretty nervous in the beginning. But as everything went fine and already the first title got big applause, they eased soon. Some even smiled ;-)

02 I´ll Send You a Postcard (Beyond the Notes, 2004)
Dedicated to Tony Ashton "one of the best boogie players ever, but this is no boogie, just my feelings about him". Great as well.

03 Before I Forget (Before I forget, 1982)
Almost the same jokes about "when I was on holidays in a band called Whitesnake" and "I made a record to find out who I was that was one of the best kept secrets in the music industry" as on the Pictured Within tour. The vocal line was done by Sabine van Baaren (e.g. from Vocaleros and together with co-Vocalero Mario Argandona, the only ones that were present on Pictured Within album and tour as well) and Miller who seemed to have some discussion off-mike about when to sing what exactly. The original song was done by the very young Sam and her mother Vicki Brown. But this was not mentioned, probably because of Sam being present. Knowing that Vicki died in 1991 I couldn't help but thinking about all the dead people linked to this concert. Nevertheless it never went too sad - actually it was all a lot of fun!

04 Wait a While (Pictured Within, 1998)
First vocal track of the evening: "One of the best voices in the last five (dramatic pause) million years. Sam Brown!" What else shall I say? But I will never like her dress! See Akiko's pics from Hell and Andi Thul's pics from Wendel. Sam's stage presence is amazing and the song still makes everyone shiver.

05 Cologne Again (Beyond the Notes, 2004)
Jon tried to explain the funny aspect of the song title ("'Cologne again' as in 'Alone again' - at 3 a.m. when I wrote it seemed awfully funny!"). None of my favorite tracks so I don't remember very much about it.

06 Pavane (Sarabande, 1976)
Obviously this song only ended up on the setlist because guitarist Paul Shigihara asked for the score far more than once. This song has never been played live before. Great spot for Paul. First time I realized how easily Jon steps aside to leave the solo spot to other musicians. Afterwards Jon said: "You know, the guitar player who recorded this song became enormously famous afterwards. He formed a band called "The Army" or so." Only a small part of the audience got the joke… (in case you don't get it, too: Andy Summers formed The Police together with Sting)

07 Gigue (Sarabande, 1976)
Introduced as the last song that will bring us to the "Pause" (German pronunciation). I hoped for more German since Jon often uses it on German TV - but we only got two words. "Gigue" got an extended version with a fantastic drum battle (Bert on drums and Mario on percussion) in the middle. The only applause within a song I recall. I'm not 100% sure but I think this was the first out of two songs Jon played some Hammond B3. From my seat I was able to witness it from behind. I never realized how uncomfortable it must be using the pedals while standing…

The break was about 20 minutes. Several voices were heard in the lines of "they turned up the heating to sell more drinks". Unfortunately there was no announcement of how long the break would be or any notification outside when the concert was about to start again. Therefore a lot of people were still getting in when the first song was already being played! Very annoying as it was a very quiet one. But it was pure chance that I arrived at the doors when they started to close it - I reached my seat just in time!

08 Pictured Within (Pictured Within, 1998)
A dream came true. I've waited more than five years to hear this song live (sung by Miller - on a Jon Lord show). And sorry, I am absolutely unable to make any objective remarks about it. Most of us have a special song, a song that changed our lives - this is mine…

09 A Smile When I Shook His Hand (Beyond the Notes, 2004)
Including: Here Comes the Sun (The Beatles, 1969)
As an introduction Jon told the story how he took a walk with George Harrison not long before his death. This version included his most famous song, sung by Sabine and Miller. There was also a certain joke about a lot of great deceased musicians having lots of fun and only one problem. I won't tell it as I don't want to spoil the fun for those who don't know it yet. But it went to show that it wasn't a sad show at all.

10 Evening Song (Pictured Within, 1998)
The second song featuring Sam Brown. Introduced by herself as being about sitting at the open window in your favourite chair. Jon agreed that he couldn't have said it better. There's no doubt the two of them get along more than well - knowing each other more than 20 years by now.

11 Unsquare Dance (Dave Brubeck, 1961)
Those of us who were present at the Pictured Within tour knew what was coming when the complete orchestra started to clap their hands in a special rhythm. Jon's remark about it dealt with the fact that he loves the title - it's not a square dance, so let's call it unsquare dance.

12 November Calls (Beyond the Notes, 2004)
Miller had taken off his jacket by now - but still had no clue where to put his hands. All of our pics show him holding his own hands… Fantastic voice - or as Jon put it: "This man sings my songs as I would, if I could sing". Millers comment that Jon "actually sings pretty well" was not agreed by Jon.

13 The Telemann Experiment (Beyond the Notes, 2004)
German television show Sunday Night Classics seems to have made a great impression on Jon. He said that they will try to have as much fun with the song now as they had doing it there. I guess they had. The song is a mixture of "baroque, madness, Swedish folk music (listing all kind of styles) and fish & chips." Yep, it is - it's great!

14 De Profundis (Beyond the Notes, 2004)
The song about leaving a certain band. Jon used the German word "Tondichtung" (tone poem) to introduce the song. It wasn't an easy decision to leave Deep Purple, but he his happy about it now. "This is why I am not touring in Outer Mongolia at the moment!"

After that Jon and all band members left the stage. The applause was ground shaking - no shouting for "encore", but clearly intended.

15 Music For Miriam (Beyond the Notes, 2004)
Jon came back telling us that he rearranged the song about his mother for orchestra and now wants the Trondheim Soloists to do it for us. In fact, he went off stage again during their performance.

16 Little Girl Lost (Sam Brown Solo, un-released)
During the Pictured Within Tour Sam did Stop! (with band) and a solo song that was featuring her alone on piano: Breathe In Life. This year it was her and her ukulele, that once belonged to George Harrison. The song is about a women that's going mad (she is "away with the fairies").

17 Bouree (Sarabande, 1976)
The third title from Sarabande that had been played on the Pictured Within Tour (and in the same order), once again as the final piece. I have the impression this title gets heavier each tour. The string orchestra is definitely more powerful than the string quartet was. And the band joined in pretty heavily, too.

The end applause was rocking the house. When Jon finally came out to tell us that there will be no encore because they have no more songs (each part was about 80 minutes) he reacted to somebody shouting for DP: "They are still alive and doing well, very well. Go to see them."

Musicians (same as in Hell):
Jon Lord (grand piano, Hammond B3)
Sam Brown (vocals)
Miller Anderson (vocals)
Paul Shigihara (guitars)
Urs Fuchs (bass)
Matthias Krauss (keyboards)
Mario Argandona (percussion)
Bert Smaak (drums)
Trondheim Soloists (16 string players)
Sabine van Baaren (backing vocals, some percussion)
and a lady on flute

Back to Europe 2004/2005

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