This DVD is from a 1999 performance by Deep Purple, along with various guests, including the London Symphony Orchestra. They probably should have called it "Deep Purple And Friends", for reasons that will soon become obvious.
The show gets off to a slow start, with two ballads featuring Purple keyboardist Jon Lord on grand piano and the orchestra. The first, Pictured Within, has a singer named Miller Anderson on vocals. The second song, Wait Awhile, features Sam Brown, a female vocalist who has recorded several solo albums, and has also toured with Pink Floyd as a backup singer. Neither of these songs is very good, and are the primary reason why I'm not giving this release a five star review.
After the dull opening, Lord and orchestra are joined by most of his Deep Purple bandmates, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice, and guitarist Steve Morse, along with Ronnie James Dio. With this configuration (plus a few backup singers and violinist Graham Preskett) the group performs two Glover penned songs, Sitting In A Dream and Love Is All. These songs are drawn from Butterfly Ball And The Grasshopper's Feast, a conceptual work that Glover released in the mid 70's. It's interesting that the band would choose to spotlight such obscure songs, but I think in the end, these two songs are played rather well.
Following this, Dio and Morse both leave the stage, and the remaining three members of Purple and Preskett, plus the infamous Kick Horns (who ruined many a classic song when they toured with The Who in 89) tear into the classic Purple instrumental Wring That Neck. I suppose if this was someone else paying tribute to Purple, I'd regard this as a great arrangement, but I was expecting to hear Steve Morse play on this track. Like I said, it's a good arrangement, and I suppose the band gets points for trying something different.
After this, show the REALLY picks up steam, as they present Lord's Concerto For Group And Orchestra, a piece that Purple originally recorded in 69, and which hadn't played much since then, until circumstances brought upon the inspiration to resurrect the piece 3 decades later.
So, what does the Concerto sound like? Well, it sounds like exactly what I had imagined it to be, ie a mix of an orchestra playing classical sounding music with the classic Purple sound. Some of the orchestral interludes seem to go on a bit, but I think in general, it's very successful in mixing classical and hard rock music. There's a couple bits during the second movement, where Ian Gillan sings, but it's mostly an instrumental piece.
After the Concerto, the band performs a handful of 90's era songs, before ending the set with Pictures Of Home. The encore is, of course, Smoke On The Water, performed with the full cast of musicians, along with members of The Steve Morse Band and a second guitarist who isn't really identified (he's not mentioned on the back cover, though presumably his name is amongst those listed under the word "Guests" in the closing credits). Dio and Gillan trade off on vocals, and suprisingly, the orchestra, Kick Horns and even the back up singers (I HATE back up singers, what does a rock group like Deep Purple need back up singers for?) sound great.
To those who demur at the idea of Deep Purple without Ritchie Blackmore, I might point out Steve Morse is a genius. He's had a long career playing with The Dregs during the 70's as well as The Steve Mores Band and Kansas during the 80's. He twice got so sick of the business of the music industry that he quit and took a normal job, but found the pull of playing music too strong to stay away from his first love. He does a perfect job at filling Blackmore's shoes.
As I said before, the only reason I'm giving this DVD a four star review instead of five is because of the two boring Jon Lord songs that open the disc. I think it would have been better if they had started out with a few Purple songs, then the Concerto, then more Purple material to wrap up with. Maybe they could have stuck the songs the songs featuring Miller Anderson (WHO IS Miller Anderson, anyway?!), Sam Brown and Ronnie James Dio in the middle someplace, but I think it was a bad idea to start with them.
Anyway, I think this is a nice release, and once they get into the actual portion of the show that features Deep Purple, it's fantastic.