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David Meadows Profile
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The Fountain Of Useless Knowledge

Registered: 09-2003
Posts: 5670
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Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


I struggled to write anything about this gig. I was speechless by the end of it. It was just that good.

A bit of background, for those who don't know: this concert was a collaboration between Jon Lord, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, and Stevenson College Edinburgh. The orchestra, and the rock band (and the traditional music band in the first half), was made up of music students from those schools. It's the youngest orchestra I've ever seen. Some of them looked about ten!

The first piece on the programme was a short overture for the orchestra, "The Mauchline Belles" by Kevin McCrae.

After that, a group of about twelve traditional musicians, young people led by Phil Cunningham (mostly fiddles, with two guitars, two accordions, and two bagpipes) joined the orchestra to play a set of reels and jigs. A Scottish jig backed by the full power of orchestral brass and percussion (Phil Cunningham’s tune, orchestrated by -- I think -- James MacMillan) is quite something!

This first half of the concert lasted about half an hour. The second half consisted of the Concerto For Group and Orchestra. But not in any form I have ever heard before. The "group" was a rock band from Stevenson College which consisted of vocalist, saxophone, bass, drums, keyboards, and two guitar players. Jon Lord joined them on Hammond organ.

Obviously this made for a pretty unique arrangement of the solo parts, but everything worked perfectly. You would never know that this wasn't the "proper" arrangement of the “group” parts; the sax sounded great the two guitars swapped parts seamlessly, and the extra keyboards merged nicely into the group sound.

And the band was astonishing. Again, all really young lads, but all of them played superbly. The guitar players alternated solos and both of them were excellent -- the solos were different from every other version I have heard, but I did notice that one of the players had paid more attention to the 1999 (Steve Morse) version of the Concerto when working out his solos! (Yes, that’s a big complement, because he did have the talent to pull it off.)

The first movement guitar solo was extremely long, as was the third movement drum solo (thunderous and exciting... dual bass drum, if I’m not mistaken), and all the solos got spontaneous applause. The singer... the singer was amazing, but more about him later. For now, I'll just say he has a good voice with the right pitch to sing Gillan's part and he carried off the second movement vocal with no trouble at all.

The orchestra worked incredibly hard, conducted by Paul Mann, who must be the world's leading expert on this music. In fact, let’s say something about Paul Mann. For people who wonder what the conductor does with all that arm waving, think about this: when you’ve got an inexperienced orchestra all waiting for a guitar player to finish an improvised solo which could last any number of minutes, you need somebody who understands the music to hold the whole thing together (anybody who has seen the film of the 1969 performance will remember Malcolm Arnold flipping his score in bafflement when Ritchie Blackmore decided he wasn’t going to stop playing). The conductor I saw with the RTE Concert Orchestra last month was obviously in control of his orchestra but you could also see he was taking cues from Jon Lord. Paul Mann didn’t need to take cues -- he has the knowledge of the “rock group” part of the work, as well as of the orchestral score, and he knows exactly when a solo is coming to an end, no matter how many minutes it might have lasted, and is right there to bring the orchestra in. Watching Paul conduct this piece (five times now) has given me more understanding of a conductor’s role than any other classical concert I’ve seen, and in my humble opinion he’s a top bloke.

Anyway, the orchestra: this is apparently their FIRST WEEK at the college, and they've been given an hour long modern concerto full of improvised solo parts. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end! And if I was being totally honest and critical, there were moments when you could hear that it wasn't a professional, experienced orchestra. But they were very minor moments and in no way detracted from the enjoyment of their performance. They played with energy and enthusiasm and the overall effect was outstanding.

And I've got to mention the rock group again because they were amazing! I would seriously be interested to hear what kind of music they normally play, because they are all hugely talented.

And the singer... ok... time to talk about the singer, because there was an encore, and it’s inevitably the song every Deep Purple fan would want to hear Jon Lord play, and it’s possibly the biggest vocal challenge any rock singer could face.

I knew what the encore would be before Jon finished introducing it, and I wondered if this young singer could do it. Good voice in the Concerto, but would he have the power to do......Child in Time?

Yes. He was unbelievable. He just kept going up and up, and never lost a bit of power, never even seemed to be struggling. I don't think I've heard a voice as impressive as that since......well, about 1969 ;-)

When the concert ended, I felt shell-shocked. I was absolutely speechless. Actually, I was in tears. I’d had no doubt the concert would be enjoyable... or at the very least, it would be "interesting"... but I really didn't expect to come away so thoroughly impressed. Best concert I've ever seen!

I am so happy that I was able to witness what will probably remain a unique musical event. These young people should feel extremely proud of themselves (and so should Jon and Paul).



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"A good idea will keep you awake during the morning, but a great idea will keep you awake during the night."
Marilyn vos Savant
7/10/2009, 10:20 Link to this post Send Email to David Meadows   Send PM to David Meadows
 
Big J Profile
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Registered: 09-2003
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Re: Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


Can't add too much to David's review, apart from saying "Yes, the orchestra were that good", "Yes, the band were that good", and "YES, THE SINGER WAS OUTSTANDINGLY GOOD!".

That was the first time I've seen the Concerto live. Hopefully not the last because that was indeed "The Best Concert I've Ever Seen"!

Note : 3/7 of the band have their own prog-rock project "A Torn Mind". The singer Grant Barclay is in a band called Backlash. He was seriously that good.



---
Video clips from various gigs -> http://youtube.com/weissheim
Diamond Head message board -> http://diamondhead.myfastforum.org/index.php
7/10/2009, 11:52 Link to this post Send Email to Big J   Send PM to Big J
 
Big J Profile
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Re: Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


Mr Lord was pretty awesome too! emoticon

---
Video clips from various gigs -> http://youtube.com/weissheim
Diamond Head message board -> http://diamondhead.myfastforum.org/index.php
7/10/2009, 11:54 Link to this post Send Email to Big J   Send PM to Big J
 
haydncorelli Profile
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Re: Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


Another review.This one is mine and taken from Jon's official site.

‘The Edinburgh concert was fantastic, the kids were really impressive, very cohesive and obviously they enjoyed it as much as the audience.’ Thus writes David Fergusson on Jon Lord’s Facebook page about the concert at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on Monday night.
For this website, Kevin Dixon reports indepth about the evening.
‘The first thing that struck me was how young the musicians looked. The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama provided the orchestra. Taken mostly from the first year inductees, they were almost all around 18 years of age. Stevenson College Edinburgh provided the folk musicians and the rock band. These students were 18-24 years old.
The first section of the evening was a selection of traditional Scottish Airs, Reels and Jigs. Led by Phil Cunningham, with the orchestra joined by traditional folk musicians, played a lively toe tapping set. It was probably just the thing to relax the musicians into the spirit of the evening.
Paul Mann took over the conductor’s baton following the interval, and Jon introduced ‘his baby’, including a lovely tribute to the sadly departed Tony Ashton. And so began the journey that is the Concerto for Group and Orchestra.
The divided cadenza
Straight away you could feel the enthusiasm and the enjoyment coming from the stage. There were smiles all round, and the standard of the music being played was exceptional.
The rock band kicked in and proved they were also of a high standard of musicianship. Joined by Jon on the Hammond, the band got into that wonderfully funky late 60’s rhythm. With two guitarists in the band it was quite interesting to see the way they divided the solos between them.
The cadenza was new and was wonderfully thought out, ending with the guitarists harmonizing together joined briefly by Jon, before the whole ensemble finished the movement with a glorious flourish.
The rapturous applause seemed to shock some of the orchestra, almost like they had forgotten an audience was even there. Paul Mann just beamed his widest smile at them all and the second movement commenced.
Vocal excellence
How would the 18 year old Grant Barclay cope with the singing? With incredible ease as it turned out. A really wonderful vocal delivery of the 1999 lyrics, he was excellent.
The third movement, and the honours went to Oscar Mannoni on the drums. The crowd cheered, the orchestra turned to watch, Jon stood back from the Hammond for a better view, and even Paul Mann stood with his mouth open.
Quickly the Concerto came to a close and the venue rose to its feet in appreciation. The band was brought out to the front of the stage to yet more wild applause, and finally people started to leave the stage. Just as the first violinist rose and bowed as if to leave, Jon and Paul came back onto the stage.
Time for Child
Jon introduced a song from the same era as the Concerto, inducing a huge cheer as the familiar opening chords of Child in Time were played. Now came the most stunning version of the song I have heard in years.
First came the vocals, and they were stunning. He hit the notes, he made the screams and looked very relieved at the end of the first verse. Now the two guitarists again split the solo spot, and ended with harmonies, joined again by Jon.
The orchestration of this version is wonderful, and dovetails neatly into the song. The second verse is better than the first, and this time the screams are just as good. The song drives to a conclusion, and the cheer at the end probably took the sky off.
Paul Mann took the microphone and hailed the song as the best version he had heard since the original, and hugged the singer. Jon thanked everyone for coming and must have shaken hands with everyone onstage.
Conductor’s high praise
The evening was more than a success in my opinion. The musicians really excelled themselves, and approached the Concerto with a breathtaking freshness. The Orchestra was a revelation, having only had five days rehearsals, something that caused Paul Mann to praise them highly.
The rock band really did rock, and yet blended nicely well with the orchestra. And the hammond organ player rose to the occasion and seemed to be genuinely having a huge amount of fun. However the billing may have read, the real stars tonight were the magnificent young musicians, something I am sure Jon would agree with.
7/10/2009, 12:55 Link to this post Send Email to haydncorelli   Send PM to haydncorelli
 
Rezi Profile
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Registered: 04-2004
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Re: Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


Thanks guys!
7/10/2009, 13:28 Link to this post Send Email to Rezi   Send PM to Rezi
 
Big J Profile
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Re: Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE4wmMOcihc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5OuDMPb4tw

---
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Diamond Head message board -> http://diamondhead.myfastforum.org/index.php
7/10/2009, 22:28 Link to this post Send Email to Big J   Send PM to Big J
 
haydncorelli Profile
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Re: Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


John and the other gentlemen I talked to on the night, can you get in touch after the weekend. Cheers.
14/10/2009, 9:26 Link to this post Send Email to haydncorelli   Send PM to haydncorelli
 
Rezi Profile
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Re: Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


The vocals on CIT are just amazing. Thanks Big J!
14/10/2009, 12:18 Link to this post Send Email to Rezi   Send PM to Rezi
 
Big J Profile
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Re: Jon Lord in Edinburgh (review)


A backstage view by the saxophonist in the group

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYyI5DWTSIA

---
Video clips from various gigs -> http://youtube.com/weissheim
Diamond Head message board -> http://diamondhead.myfastforum.org/index.php
15/10/2009, 23:50 Link to this post Send Email to Big J   Send PM to Big J
 


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