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Breathtaking freshness in Edinburgh

October 6, 2009

Edinburgh1‘The Edinburgh concert was fantastic, the kids were really impressive, very cohesive and obviously they enjoyed it as much as the audience.’

Thus writes David Fergusson on Jon Lord’s Facebook page about the concert at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Monday night.

For this website, Kevin Dixon reports indepth about the evening.

‘The first thing that struck me was how young the musicians looked. The Royal deutschland_flag_25Scottish Academy of Music and Drama provided the orchestra. Taken mostly from the first year inductees, they were almost all around 18 years of age.  Stevenson College Edinburgh provided the folk musicians and the rock band. These students were 18-24 years old.

The first section of the evening was a selection of traditional Scottish Airs, Reels and Jigs. Led by Phil Cunningham, with the orchestra joined by traditional folk musicians, played a lively toe tapping set. It was probably just the thing to relax the musicians into the spirit of the evening.

Paul Mann took over the conductor’s baton following the interval, and Jon introduced ‘his baby’, including a lovely tribute to the sadly departed Tony Ashton.  And so began the journey that is the Concerto for Group and Orchestra.

The divided cadenza
Straight away you could feel the enthusiasm and the enjoyment coming from the stage. There were smiles all round, and the standard of the music being played was exceptional.

The rock band kicked in and proved they were also of a high standard of musicianship. Joined by Jon on the Hammond, the band got into that wonderfully funky late 60’s rhythm.  With two guitarists in the band it was quite interesting to see the way they divided the solos between them.

The cadenza was new and was wonderfully thought out, ending with the guitarists harmonizing together joined briefly by Jon, before the whole ensemble finished the movement with a glorious flourish.

The rapturous applause seemed to shock some of the orchestra, almost like they had forgotten an audience was even there. Paul Mann just beamed his widest smile at them all and the second movement commenced.

Vocal excellence
How would the 18 year old Grant Barclay cope with the singing? With incredible ease as it turned out.  A really wonderful vocal delivery of the 1999 lyrics, he was excellent.

The third movement, and the honours went to Oscar Mannoni on the drums. The crowd cheered, the orchestra turned to watch, Jon stood back from the Hammond for a better view, and even Paul Mann stood with his mouth open.

Quickly the Concerto came to a close and the venue rose to its feet in appreciation. The band was brought out to the front of the stage to yet more wild applause, and finally people started to leave the stage. Just as the first violinist rose and bowed as if to leave, Jon and Paul came back onto the stage.

Time for Child
Jon introduced a song from the same era as the Concerto, inducing a huge cheer as the familiar opening chords of Child in Time were played. Now came the most stunning version of the song I have heard in years.

First came the vocals, and they were stunning. He hit the notes, he made the screams and looked very relieved at the end of the first verse. Now the two guitarists again split the solo spot, and ended with harmonies, joined again by Jon.

The orchestration of this version is wonderful, and dovetails neatly into the song. The second verse is better than the first, and this time the screams are just as good. The song drives to a conclusion, and the cheer at the end probably took the sky off.

Paul Mann took the microphone and hailed the song as the best version he had heard since the original, and hugged the singer. Jon thanked everyone for coming and must have shaken hands with everyone onstage.

Conductor’s high praise
The evening was more than a success in my opinion. The musicians really excelled themselves, and approached the Concerto with a breathtaking freshness. The Orchestra was a revelation, having only had five days rehearsals, something that caused Paul Mann to praise them highly.

The rock band really did rock, and yet blended nicely well with the orchestra. And the hammond organ player rose to the occasion and seemed to be genuinely having a huge amount of fun. However the billing may have read, the real stars tonight were the magnificent young musicians, something I am sure Jon would agree with.

Kev Dixon’

Did you also see the show? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.

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12 comments

  1. Guys.

    Amazing tonight Congratulations to you all. A breath of fresh air. Jon Perfection as always. What a joy it was tonight to see this amazing performance. Brought a tear to my eye during Child In Time.

    Thank you

    Jamie


  2. The ‘Concerto’ was simply breathtaking. Skipping unimportant issues like cramped space and slightly hissing sound system, the sheer power of the performance left nothing to be desired. Jon is still full of steam, but hats off to student orchestra and the band – I’m truly impressed with next generation of young artists. The vocalist sounded more like Ted Neeley from JCS than Gillan, but pulled his lines off amazingly well. New solo arrangements and addition of saxophone were refreshing and despite getting old by today’s standards, ‘Concerto’ is looking to stay with us for quite a while. Thanks for ‘Child in Time’ as an encore piece. We were taken for a stunning, goosebumpy and hair raising ride!


  3. A wonderful evening for first year students. Their playing was amazing. Both Jon and Paul Mann seemed to really appreciate their efforts too. Watch out in the future for Grant Barclay the vocalist, he sang Child in Time effortlessly, it made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Ian Gillan could not have done better, even at his peak, and I say this as a huge Deep Purple fan of many years. Jon Lord continues to bring so much wonderful music into all of our lives. Please come back to Scotland soon.


  4. Amazing!
    We were sitting at the very front on the left so the great maestro was right above us! And as soon as Grant Barclay came out, I thought, oh that must be the vocalist, I wonder what he will sound like. I was STUNNED! Completely agree with those who say he surpasses Ian Gillan. For me, he was definitely the highlight of the show. When Child in Time started playing I was so excited, so looking forward to he vocals! And Grant delivered 100% and more! I hope he’ll have agreat career. He deserves that!


  5. I’d been keeping my ears (and eyes) open for word of the concert, bought the tickets and wasn’t dissappointed. Really enjoyed the 1st part of the concert (especially Phil Cunningham’s set)but the second half just floored me. To hear the concerto live was magic but the enthusiasm of the musicians (AND Paul Mann) took it to another level altogether. And the arrangement of Child in Time was a real highlight. Grant Barclay’s vocal was a tour de force and took me back to Green’s Playhouse, March 1971 and my first live gig (guess who?).
    Any chance of a recording being produced as a fundraiser for the colleges ans school involved?


  6. Wow.

    At times you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. The anticipation. The excitement. Jon staring at Paul – a mix of “I’ll wait for my signal” and “must make sure he’s doing it right”. Paul getting right into the music including a jump in the air to signal the penultimate bash on the drums.

    If the Concerto was gripping. Child in Time was awesome. Jon’s teaisng introductory words followed by his saving us from suspense with the opening three notes on the Hammond. Excitement levels in the audience then climaxing just as the young vocalist stepped forward. “Good luck to you, mate” I mouthed to him. “Sweet child in time…”. I was in tears. I had no doubt he would then pull off the screaming, and he didn’t disappoint. Ian Gillan said a few years ago he couldn’t sing Child in Time any more. He doesn’t need to any more. Young Grant is the new Gillan.

    Trouble is, Grant’s performance rather dominates my memory of Monday night. Which is rather unfair to the other performers in the band and orchestras, who each shone in their own ways. Jon’s Concerto provides solos from instruments you don’t often hear like the Bassoon.

    Don’t know if I’ll ever see something like this ever again. It was something very very special.


  7. This was a stunning night. Grant Barclay really has got an amazing voice. Considering the age and experience of the musicians the concerto was fantastic. The band were superb. And Jon was Jon, perfection.
    Another amazing night so soon after the perfection of Dublin.
    Roll on the russian dates.


  8. Hi Awesome night. I had a 270 mile round drive to the concert on Monday. It was well worth the trip. The musicians were fantastic; Jon was on excellent form and the performance of the Concerto was stunning. After seeing Mott the Hoople on Friday in Hammersmith, I wasn’t sure that this could match that experience; but it did and in some ways it surpassed it.


  9. I came over from the Netherlands with my wife for this concert and never regretted it for one minute !
    After listening to the Concerto for almost 40 yrs. on LP/Video/CD/DVD this had to be THE live experience. So it was: great performances of the Group & the Orchestra. Cheers to all.
    Oh, and Edinburgh is a nice town.


  10. It was honour to play with you, Jon Lord. It was awesome, led me to NEW WORLD of MUSIC and let my horizon broaden.!!! Thank you


  11. When Purple roll into Glasgow in November they could always call on Grant to duet with Ian on “child”…..
    …………wishful thinking there?


  12. I have worked in the Usher for many years and I was blown away by this concert, One of the best ever.Thanks



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