Quebec first night: Un concerto électrisant!

Last night saw the premiere of the 50th anniversary performances of Concerto for Group and Orchestra in Quebec, Canada.

Newspaper reviews indicate emotions running high, a mass of musical mastery and a splendid evening had by all. See link to reviews below.

Conductor Paul Mann, usually not a man prone to spiritual encounters, recalls the evening thus:

– I have to say it was a really special evening. The audience was fantastic. They displayed everything from total concentrated silence to ear-splitting demonstrative enthusiasm.

– The Orchester symphonique de Québec, it’s fair to say, played out of their skins – with total commitment and energy – and they obviously love the Concerto. Also, the Paul DesLauriers Band is perfect for this. They belong to the same blues-rock traditions that Purple do, and they managed to play the Purple songs and the Concerto with total authenticity and respect for the originals, but with their own distinctive personality intact. As if to prove the point, they played two of their own songs as well.

Bruce Dickinson was the sole vocalist of the evening, tackling both the Concerto and a set of Lord and Deep Purple classics including When A Blind Man Cries.

– Bruce is always a force of nature. He’s just a fantastic person to be around and it’s a privilege to share a stage with him, says Paul Mann.

Jon Lord was there
– Jon would have loved it all. And I have to say, at the end of the second movement, I held the silence quite a bit longer than usual, and I could have sworn, just at that moment, that he was there.

The set:

Concerto for Group and Orchestra
It’s All On You (DesLauriers Band)
She Should Be Mine (DesLauriers Band)
Pictures of Home
When A Blind Man Cries
Perfect Strangers
Smoke On The Water
Smoke On The Water (2nd encore)

Read more:
Jon Lord’s Concerto for group and orchestra: historical and electrifying – le Soleil review
Symphonic outing with Bruce Dickinson and the OSQ – le Journal de Quebec review
The great celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Concerto – Palais Montcalm website

Tonight, the concert is repeated at Quebec’s Palais Montcalm.

Photos by Pascal Rathe

3 thoughts on “Quebec first night: Un concerto électrisant!

  1. Hi – i was at the second show on Nov 22. Fantastic!. It was a wonderful show!. The Paul Deslaurier Band was the a perfect fit for “Group” . L`orchestra du Quebec – To quote someone sitting next to me, “magnifique!”. Bruce sounded so much like Ian when he was singing, closing my eyes felt as if I was there in ’69 and ’99. the 2nd night did not end with a second playing of Smoke on the Water, but of Bruce coming back saying ” we`ve run out of songs to play” and introduced his version of the William Tell Overture on his cheeks! hilarious. Bruce then introduced and powerfully sang the opening hymn from Iron Maidens` Revelations – a wonderful night!

  2. What a great experience! I was at the second concert, and it was absolutely spectacular. Hearing the Concerto live for the first time after listening to it for 50 years was truly a spiritual experience. Highlights:

    1. Paul Mann was magnificent as he directed and presided over the evening, getting the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec to play like demons. He knew exactly when to give the group room to improvise, and when to pull things back together.

    2. Bruce Dickinson showed again that his voice is a rare one, extremely well suited for the Concerto. He was predictably stellar in the Purple selections that followed the Concerto and appeared to be enjoying himself immensely.

    3. The Paul DesLauriers band certainly did justice to the interpretive challenges of the “group” portion of the Concerto and rocked with the best of them. Paul DesLauriers is one heck of a guitar player!

    4. Local professional keyboardist Pierre Belisle had the unenviable task of playing Jon’s keyboard parts, but he was excellent; Jon would definitely have approved. Well done!

    Indeed, every part of the evening highlighted and honored the Maestro’s marvelous music. The program on the second night was identical to the first night, with the exception of Bruce Dickinson replacing the second “Smoke” encore with a brief bit of a cappella “singing in the shower.” The audience didn’t want the evening to end, and I daresay absolutely everyone had a smashing good time.

    I personally had a few additional thrills. Paul’s uncle Colin Hart was sitting at the end of my row, and I got to meet and chat with him a bit during the intermission. Then, on Saturday, I got the immense thrill of seeing Paul and Mia Mann (along with Colin again) at the airport, as they were on the same flight out of Quebec as my wife and I were on. Although obviously tired from the week’s work, Paul (and Mia) couldn’t have been nicer or more gracious as we briefly talked about the concerts, and he said that there are talks underway about performing “Boom of the Tingling Strings” and/or “Durham Concerto” sometime in the near future. Sure hope so! And my wife and I also had the great pleasure of meeting drummer (and personal friend of Jon’s) Bernhard Welz at the airport, who flew in for the concert. Bernhard was the drummer for the 2009 rendition of the Concerto in Zurich, Switzerland (check out youtube for a great rendition of “Child in Time” with Jon) and he is a terrifically friendly, genuinely nice guy. So yeah, it was the weekend of a lifetime! It’s clear that Jon’s music and the example he set as a person will be with us for a long, long time – and deservedly so.

  3. Jon would rightly be proud of this. 50 years since he premiered the piece. Wow! I guess that means this music has been in my head for almost that long. A certain Hammond engineer currently revamping my C3 asked me what music I would like plastered all over it before it is coated in a matt finish translucent purple. It took me months to reply because I had to narrow that choice down from so many great Hammond players. Eventually, it had to be “Concerto” as that was the album that made me start listening to music across the board generally and not have a narrow or confined view of what constituted great and important music. Along with Keith (Emerson), Jon led the way in to rock for classical-music lovers and a way into classical for rock lovers. But it was the deep bluesiness Jon inherited from the likes of Jimmy smith and the jazz Hammond guys that made him such a deliciously unpredictable player and, when combined with his hard-learnt classical understanding, such an outrageously talented performer. Anyone who studies Bach quickly finds room for improvisation if not also instuctions to “jam it” and Jon obviously was capable of making any piece of music that entered his head miraculously pour forth from his fingertips. One of the most affable people I have ever met, Jon the Gentleman has left a very deep impression on me and I would sincerely love to hear a live version of my desert island disc before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Thank you for the music, maestro! And thank you too, Paul Mann, for keeping it alive!!

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