On April 4, the great and the good of the classical and rock worlds came together in London to salute the Deep Purple organist and composer. Here are five things we learned while teetering on that fine line between the highbrow and heavy metal...
DEEP PURPLE ARE A TIGHT KNIT FAMILY
Welcomed warmly onstage, Lord’s second wife, Vickie, paid moving tribute to her late husband and explained the provenance of the Sunflower Jam, the charity that organised the night on behalf of the Jon Lord Fellowship for cancer research. But did you know that she was a former girlfriend of one-time Deep Purple frontman Glenn Hughes - also here tonight - as well as the twin sister of Purple drummer Ian Paice’s missus, Jacky?
IN TERMS OF WIDE-RANGING CELEBRITY FANS, LORD WAS WITHOUT PEER (GEDDIT?)
The first half of the concert was a polite sit-down affair covering several of Jon Lord’s classical compositions, culminating with posh thesp Jeremy Irons reciting a Thomas Hardy poem over one of Lord’s piano pieces. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Broadcaster Bob Harris, the MC throughout, announced that there would be a short intermission. “And then,” he declared, “we’re going to rock!”The second half featured everyone from Joe Brown to Paul Weller, as well as a certain Legendary ‘70s Rock Band.
LORD’S INFLUENCE ON THE MOD-PUNK AXIS WAS A REVELATION
Paul Weller has had many phases - angry young punk with The Jam, slick soul-boy with The Style Council - but we never had him down as an aficionado of proto-metal. To be fair, it was Lord’s pre-history as a member of The Artwoods that Weller drew on, performing versions of said R&B combo’s _I Take What I Want _and _Things Get Better _rather than, say, Space Truckin’.
BRUCE DICKINSON IS THE PURPLE FRONTMAN WHO NEVER WAS
If Ian Gillan was rock’s original four-octave freak of nature, then Bruce Dickinson picked up his screechy baton. Resembling an off-duty dustman in a sleeveless jerkin and a bobble hat, tonight Iron Maiden’s frontman vies with Glenn Hughes for those ear-piercing high notes on versions of You Keep On Moving, This Time Around and Burn, backed by a swinging Ian Paice, Lord acolyte Don Airey and one Rick Wakeman. Symphonic rock monsters with vocals that could strip paint, they whip the crowd up into a frenzy.
** EVEN WITHOUT ‘SMOKE’ THERE WAS FIRE**
And then the third crucial element of ‘70s hard rock’s unholy trinity (along with Sabbath and Zep) come onstage. Or at least, the surviving members (pace Ritchie Blackmore, natch): step forward, Ian Paice, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, with assistance from “new boys” Airey and guitarist Steve Morse. Cue impressive renditions of_ Lazy_, When ABlind Man Cries, Perfect Strangers, Black Night, and a funkily infectious Hush, with extra vamping. No Smoke On The Water, mind, but still, you can’t have it all.