When friends and colleagues of Jon Lord got together to celebrate his life in music at London’s Royal Albert Hall in April 2014, the evening turned into a magnificent display of love, affection and glorious music.
For this second installment of our look at the brand new vinyl editions of the show we focus on the first half of the evening’s second set. Deep Purple closed the evening (and not with Smoke on the Water for an appreciated change), but before them the stage had been graced by people like Glenn Hughes, a revised Paice Ashton Lord, Bruce Dickinson, Paul Weller and many more.
With a somewhat chronological running order, the rocking second half of the show started with two tracks from Jon’s 1960s group The Artwoods – sung by none other than Paul Weller; Things Get Better and I Take What I Want. Lord and Weller had performed together previously at the annual charity events Sunflower Jam, and Weller put The Artwoods’ rhythm & blues to brilliant use as a gentle intro to the more intense rocking that would come later.
Phil Campbell from The Temperament Movement fronted a revisit to the sorely missed Paice Ashton Lord. Silas & Jerome and I’m Gonna Stop Drinking were as funky and vibrant as when they were new, and Campbell owned the stage with his wonderful pastiche of Tony Ashton – all swagger and the morning after-voice.
Steve Balsamo, Jon’s touring singer after Deep Purple, was up next for a captivating version of Soldier of Fortune sung together with Sandi Thom. Jon often performed the song onstage at his solo shows, and it always brought a lump to the throat – like it did tonight.
Glenn Hughes possesses an incredibly well preserved voice and range. For the next three songs he displayed this with splendid finesse. On You Keep On Moving and Burn he shared vocal duties with Bruce Dickinson in a friendly but fierce competition between two utterly great voices.
Blackmore’s immense guitar riff on Burn might have played a more dominant role, but the band lead by Ian Paice (what a treat to hear him play this song again) more than made up for it by playing their hearts out. Come the Bach-inspired keyboard solo, the frenzy turned into a keyboards fest featuring Don Airey, Rick Wakeman, Wix Wickens and Nigel Hopkins on doubling up Jon’s iconic solo on Hammonds and Moogs. It was terrific.
As goose bumps go the next song invoked a serious onset. This Time Around, Jon’s and Glenn’s sole shared composition, was preceded by a soft orchestral intro by Richard Whilds. Over delicate strings, Glenn let his voice soar into the spellbound Albert Hall. Truly a moment to savour – even if it was a sad occasion, and I’m sure Jon would have been humbled by it all.
All three vinyls that together comprise the full show from Royal Albert Hall come in lavish gatefold sleeves chock-full of liner notes, photos from the night.
Read our in-depth interview with conductor Paul Mann about the process of putting together Celebrating Jon Lord.
Part 1: – I gave myself goose-bumps just imagining it – planning the concert.
Part 2: – To my friends pictured within – the concert’s first half.
Part 3: – Three good scores in one day
The full set: How we celebrated Jon Lord – full setlist and artist credits.