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           The concert, scheduled for 7.30 p.m., began about 45 minutes late. Meanwhile, an impatient  crowd screamed for 'Purple'




The smell of grass (the smoked variety) wafted on the grounds, bringing to mind the atmosphere of campus festivals 
Quick links:

It's no All Fools Day joke: Curtainraiser to the concert

Deep Purple: The official home site

Deep Purple:
The lyrics

Reviews: From Ram Samudrala's fan site

Music for the body


Deep Purple
Live Concert
Palace Grounds
April 1 2001

Deep Purple is a sophisticated celebration of primitivism. Ask this 43-year-old who turned 16 when she heard them live!

A file pic of Deep PurplePicture a gawky 15-year-old in a small town in south India in the early Seventies. Books and radio stations keep her company. No TV, no playmates, a movie once a year if she's lucky. There's a record player, though, and a small stack of pop albums that her father plays for her in the evenings on request.

Her older brother in Bangalore comes home on vacation with a well-used LP borrowed from a hostelmate. It's Deep Purple's Fireball. Unnaturally long hair envelops five faces that all look in the same direction. There's a halo around them as they shoot across the black backdrop of the album cover, hair streaming backwards like a comet's tail. The volume on the music system is turned way up and the girl hears, for the first time, the sound of hard rock.

"We started out as an underground band. Our music was not played on radio stations." -- Roger Glover (in Bangalore).

It's nothing like the pop and rock she's heard on her favourite radio stations. It sends her heart hammering and binds her eyes shut. She can't dance, doesn't know how, never has, and so the music judders inside her confined body, producing tight little jerking motions of head and toes. Drums like machinegun fire, a bass thudding out a rhythm, a lead guitar scattering wayward notes. She's never heard the organ played like this before -- dancing metallic shafts of sound. The voice of the lead singer has her in thrall. To her teenage imagination it sounds like Man personified: deep, powerful, now a silken roar, now a sustained, primitive scream. She whispers to herself: "Sexy."

All through her brother's holiday she listens to the Fireball LP until every note of every song is punched into her brain. The lyrics are inaudible and only a few phrases emerge unscathed from the maelstrom. When Jon Lord plays that long and sombre passage in Fools, she imagines a camera panning a battlefield strewn with dead and wounded soldiers. In The Mule, Paice's drums culminate in an unbelieveable, shattering barrage created not by two sticks, surely, but a hundred held in each hand. She memorises the names of the band members although she is not sure how to pronounce them all: does Ian begins with the sound of an E or an I, does Gillan have a soft G and Paice sound like pice?

"Rock 'n' roll -- that was our rebellion against our parents." -- Roger Glover

Rock 'n' roll, the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Slade, Grand Funk Railroad -- they must all take the back seat while Deep Purple charges forth, guns a-blazing. Why do they always leave her breathless, and filled with strange longings? She responds to Paul Simon's poetry with her head and her heart, but Purple touches her body.

Perhaps that was the beginning of her journey down the road not taken, with Dylan snarling insidiously into her ear. The girl shot across the bleak backdrop of her existence, breaking free in another city, another life. Then she found ways to reconnect with her own culture, ways to not feel so solitary.

In the late Eighties, she was in a classic record store in Greenwich Village when she spied a copy of -- Fireball! She carefully checked it for scratches. It passed inspection. A slice of her past was hers for a few dollars, nestling in a brown-paper bag, waiting to be re-heard when she got back home to India. Of course it didn't have the same effect on her. But its sheer brute energy was inescapable, and reminded her of the energy she had spent in rebellion.

"It's an ugly world out there." -- Steve Morse

By now she had seen the world in all its ugliness and beauty. Made her peace with it. Found her place in it. But she didn't fully understand it, and that saved her from getting complacent. Fortunately she found others like her who didn't run with the rats or hunt with the hawks. Who found happiness in doing what they liked whether it brought them money or not, and not in doing what brought them money whether it made them happy or not.

"We're just five guys with feet of clay." -- Jon Lord

Last week you could have seen a 43-year-old-turned-16, clutching the jacket of Fireball as she waited to meet its makers. To her, they were not quite Deep Purple, for one of the faces on the album cover had shot right out of the frame. It was hard for her not to think of Steve Morse as an interloper. Her prejudice would dissolve only when his guitar spoke to her during that evening's concert.

Jon Lord's snow-white beard and ponytail was the starkest reminder of time passed by. The features of their youth stood out despite their ageing faces.

They had grown old, and so had I.

What they spoke of rang a bell in me -- their refusal to compromise or to kowtow to commerce, their commitment to doing what they liked, their efforts to avoid getting jaded.

"Don't try to be famous, just try to be good." -- Ian Paice

If anything proved that Purple was a trailblazer that hadn't lost its lustre, the Bangalore concert did. Standards that they must have played in scores of concerts over the last 30 years sounded as fresh as ever. They didn't play by the book: they constantly improvised, or added on new bits. The sound that emerged was hard, tight, clean.

The muted strains of Fools filled the air. Gillan's calm before the storm. A pause before the roar and the crash followed.

I closed my eyes. This time, I didn't just twitch my head and toes as I had done nearly 30 years ago. I danced.

C K Meena

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