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Review: „Burn Salem, Burn!“

June 28, 2011

Jon Lord at Schloss Salem, Salem, near Bodensee, Germany – June 19 211.

“It was great to watch Jon during the first part of the Concerto – sitting quietly behind his Hammond, he listened to the orchestra very closely, and every now and then he nodded in approval. But when the time for the band came, he almost exploded in a burst of music. Giving cues to the young musicians of the ‘band’, playing like a man possessed during his solo, he was clearly the centre of everything ‘up there’.”

Monika Schwarz caught Jon Lord in Salem last week. This is her report.

“Some three days before the concert, I learned about Jon Lord doing a (free!!) show at lovely Schloss Salem, some mere 60 km away from my home. This is doubtless one of the best ways to spend a Sunday, so off I went and arrived there in the early afternoon, as I hoped to catch maybe some rehearsals.

As soon as I had parked my car, the tunes from the ‘Concerto for Group and Orchestra’s’ First Movement wafted by, and following the sound, I found the rather impressive stage in the park of Schloss Salem. At that time it was the orchestra doing rehearsals, soon to be joined by the band.

Soundcheck with Jon Lord
So I found myself a seat, and followed the proceedings, only now and then chased away by the occasional shower. Around 06:00 PM Jon Lord arrived on stage – well, actually he didn’t ‘arrive’, he was just there, in his usual unpretentious way. They ran through the four pieces Jon was to play in the evening, and since this was soundcheck and dress rehearsal, that was about it. Things ran smoothly enough to make us hope for a great show, but not too smoothly – for the superstitious amongst the musicians .

08:00 PM, and big, dark clouds were hanging over us. Marie & The Red Cat, a band consisting of Pop Akademie students, hit the stage. They charmed the audience with a couple of laid-back, self-composed songs, and with Lisa Marie Neumann they do have a very talented and charismatic singer.

After them it was The Astronaut’s Eye, a five piece band, and also students at Pop Akademie, who played an energetic mixture of – well, ‘speedy funk rock’ is probably the most appropriate description. Then the GermanPops Orchestra hit the stage, and launched into ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’.

Moderations were done by two young rappers, Danny Fresh and Young roDDie, supported by Udo Dahmen, artistic director of Popakademie, and Bernd Ruf, founder and conductor of GermanPops Orchestra.

‘Riders on the Storm’, performed by Julius Reich was the next song, followed by ‘Gnomus’ a composition for orchestra and band, ‘BangBang’, again by Marie & the RedCat, ‘Success has made a Failure of Love, sung by Denise Beiler and then ‘Papa was a Rollin’ Stone’, performed by all artists.

Jon Lord onstage
And then the great moment: Jon Lord joined the artists on stage! It didn’t take long and the lovely intro from the First Movement of the ‘Concerto for Group and Orchestra’ filled the – still dry – evening air. It was great to watch Jon during the first part – sitting quietly behind his Hammond, he listened to the orchestra very closely, and every now and then he nodded in approval.

But when the time for the band came, he almost exploded in a burst of music. Giving clues to the young musicians of the ‘band’, playing like a man possessed during his solo, he was clearly the centre of everything ‘up there’. But not the only one shining, an extremely talented guitarist provided a blistering solo and got a well-deserved round of spontaneous applause.

In a very charming gesture, Jon rose after that to go and get Lisa Marie Neumann by her hand, as she was the one to sing ‘Wait a While’. According to Jon’s announcement, for the first time in her life in public. Something you certainly wouldn’t have noticed, as she dealt with the challenge in a brilliant way.

‘Don’t Let Go’ was the next, and then Jon sat behind the piano for ‘The Telemann Experiment’. I have to say that this is one of my favourite pieces, with the intriguing rhythmic pattern and the continuous rising in dynamics, and everybody on stage did it justice.

Burn with Jon Lord
Again a short rap-interlude, and with an ‘orchestral big bang’ they launched into a `Deep Purple medley’, with ‘Smoke on the Water’, ‘Hush’, ‘Child in Time’, ‘Burn’, ‘Black Night’ and full circle back to ‘Smoke’ again. This time it was Tim Opitz who was giving his everything on vocals.

By now, everybody in the audience was standing, respective dancing, cheering and clapping their hands off. Should that have been the end of such a great night? A night where even the rain gods were smiling, instead of crying down on us? No, of course not, and so we got ‘Blinded by the Light’ – with Jon Lord on the Hammond – as an encore.

There was so much talent on stage that night, everybody was burning with enthusiasm, and Jon was definitely the central spark, in fact he was glowing with (I think) the pure joy of working with all those young people.

The approachable Lord
Let me close this report with a rather charming episode. A German lady called Gisela was sitting next to me all through the afternoon and the evening. At one point during the rehearsals, she said to me that Jon was looking rather inapproachable up there. No wonder, him wearing sunglasses (yeah, now and then there was even a bit of sunshine) and being very much focused on the ‘job at hand’ (the rehearsal).

But during a break, Jon left the stage and came down to the auditorium space. Gisela, according to her own words a huge rock fan in general, and Deep Purple/Jon Lord fan in particular, took her heart into her hands, went to Jon and asked for a photo with him. To which he most gracefully obliged. He even took the time to chat a couple of sentences with her.

When she came back, she sort of walked 10 cm above the ground. Concerning ‘inapproachable’, Jon proved her wrong, and at the same time, he made another of his fans very, very happy.

I think I speak not only for Gisela and myself, but for all the audience when I say ‘Thank you Jon, for a magnificent night!’”

Monika Schwarz

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3 comments

  1. Hello, Monika,
    I perfectly agree with you. I’ve met Jon in Palermo, where he performed on april, and I really have to say that he is a true gentleman; it’s not easy to play his music, but he has always been very friendly to the orchestra and the band, and he was helpful to whoever needed his enlightenment . He’s very gentle, even sweet when he has to explain to someone what he means into the score. He gave a lot of space to his showmates, like only the great musicians usually do, and he found even the time to answer, very gently but firmly, to a stupid journalist who wondered how come a seventy years old man could still perform the best hard rock around the world. Jon’s answer was:”The music is energy”….. and so on!
    What a Musician, and what a man.
    massimo


  2. ‘Don’t Let Go’? Not the Deep Purple song I presume?


  3. June, you are right – it’s the one by En Vogue



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