Advertised approximate show times
(?) Sky divers
Aerobatic Display Team
of Knebworth by:
the previous day, had been the longest day but by the time Deep Purple
finally hit the stage, almost an hour later than anticipated, at 22:20
Saturday felt far longer. Audience expectation, despite the weather
and delay, had risen to fever pitch and they wanted the main event
before the quicksand-like mud swallowed them.
I would imagine at least 50%
of the audience were in the same boat as myself, fans that had discovered
the band after they played their final concert in March 1976, who
never imagined they'd have the chance to see A Deep Purple never mind
THE Deep Purple line-up that wrote their most famous songs. The band
had a lot to live up to and the weather wasn't going to make that
easy for them.
show marked roughly the fifteenth anniversary of the switch from pop
(or orchestral experimentalists) to rock; Deep Purple In Rock was
released sometime in June 1970. In Rock, Fireball and Machine Head
were all re-released a little in advance of the show in 12" picture
disc LP form complete with free A2 sized poster. Picture discs were
the big thing at the time and Perfect Strangers was also re-released
in that form as a Knebworth special edition. Don't these record companies
really like to milk the fanbase?
A somewhat sadder occasion was out
by a week, the final concert of Deep Purple with Gillan and Glover
in Osaka Koseinenkin Hall, Japan on June 29th 1973; one of two venues
recorded for, and released as, ‘Made In Japan’ the previous year.
rain that had only really stopped for Blackfoot was back on and kept
at least one roadie busy sweeping water from back to front of stage,
and into the photo pit, throughout the post-Scorpions wait. Water was
also tipped off the thick polythene sheets that covered the keyboard
rig (stage left as we looked through the descending water droplets).
Behind this the stage set was clearly quite basic, some grey boxes
about a dozen feet high jutted different distances from the rear of
the stage with what became clear was a screen rising behind them.
Unfortunately for those at the rear of the crowd the screen wasn't
for video projection but instead provided a canvas for some green
85' aka 'In The Absence Of Pink'
Connoisseur DPVSOP CD 163
Originally released 1991
Nobody's Home 4.09
Strange Kind of Woman 8.48
A Gypsy's Kiss (Blackmore/Glover/Gillan) 6.21
Perfect Street Rangers (Blackmore/Glover/Gillan) 6.54
Knocking at Your Back Door (Blackmore/Glover/Gillan) 9.10
Difficult to Cure (Beethoven, arr. Blackmore/Glover/Lord)
Space Truckin' 14.50
Speed King 10.12
Black Night () 6.43
Smoke on the Water 10.24
All titles written by Blackmore/Gillan/Glover/Lord/Paice unless
CD directly from Amazon.co.uk
to beneift this site (Amazon pay a small percentage
of thier profit to me if you click on these links and this will
allow me to pay for hosting and more photos)or the DPAS.
After twenty years I can't
remember if the first inkling that the band were due to set sail,
sorry, foot, onstage was a small green dot that rotated and grew into
a green outline version of the 'Perfect Strangers' logo, or if that
only appeared later. Whatever heralded the impending attendance on
a UK stage after a nine and a quarter year absence the crowd made
a lot of noise to welcome them back. Listening to the album of the
event, the seemingly oddly titled ‘Knebworth 85: In the Absence of
Pink’ (don’t worry, all will become clear), for the first time in
a couple of years I’d forgotten the long, Hammond based classical
intro tape that both extended our damp wait and started the countdown
to the moment we’d all been waiting for…
Even on the album the crowd
can be heard shouting behind the tape and the cheers rise as the band
appeared a matter of seconds before Ian Paice picked up the drum intro
to Highway Star. Emotions were running high and the delay had
only helped increase their level and, sad though it may be, I have
to admit having a tear in my eye as the perfect opening salvo that
was Highway Star sped out of the PA.
befits a song in the BBC Top Gear (the current car TV programme, not
the John Peel hosted radio show the band played sessions for at their
birth) final Top Five Driving Song vote in the coming few weeks it
certainly powers along. Roger Glover’s frantic bass soon joins in
followed by guitar from Ritchie Blackmore and live, soaring Hammond
care of Jon Lord. Despite the gallons of water poured off the Hammond
earlier the valve technology survived and sounded as beefy and full
as I expected. Ritchie, despite sporting a pair of fairly non rock’n’roll
Wellington boots, showed fluidity as his hands covered the fretboard
with ease. The boys were back and the lack of sleep, the cold, and the
wet no longer mattered. It was a good feeling to be sharing an experience
so many there never imagined would happen - Blackmore and Gillan sharing
a stage under the moniker of Deep Purple.
Oh, Ian Gillan, I've not introduced him. I guess he was the reason
I'd made the trip; his Glory Road album and In Rock were my introduction
to album buying and probably rock music too. His solo band Gillan
was also the first live gig I saw and he may well be the person I've
seen perform on stage most often. The man has a lot to answer for.
Twenty years ago he did his best.
local BBC TV crew recorded the only official film of the show was
during this song by. A single camera was used and some of the footage
was broadcast on a news programme soon afterwards, possibly the following
Two on the trot to wake the audience up is an old trick and one not
missed at Knebworth as new followed old; Nobody's Home coming
from the then current Perfect Strangers reunion album. While not as
intense as Highway Star it was still powerful and worked well in its
position in the setlist.
The Return of the Knebworth Fayre
Source : Radio Broadcast
Kind of Woman
at your Backdoor
on the Water
is a 2LP (and possibly 2CD) bootleg culled from the 'Knebworth
through the Night' broadcast. I don't have a copy and it seems
pointless finding one with the official CD containing all
these tracks anyway.
Time for a breather at last
as the boys let Ian tell us how amazing we were for lasting the day
in the inclement weather, welcoming us to the show, and then explaining
that they'd all been doing different things in the intervening years.
However, mention of the Gillan band wasn't what followed, Instead
we discovered Ian had been learning languages and had become a "cunning
linguist", a play on words which preceded one of his many variations,
"this time in French", of the story of a Strange Kind of Woman they'd
met many years before… Hmm, two tracks from the 'Made In Japan' album
so far, not that this wasn't welcome at the time, but the same songs
did remain live staples for several years in what would become fairly
stagnant sets. Gillan missed a few words here and there but it wasn't
too noticeable on the night, just when listening back to the CD in
was more obvious on the evening was when Gillan and Blackmore reached
the call and return section that worked so well on MiJ. There Gillan
matched notes played on the guitar with his voice. On a wet summer
evening thirteen years on, and towards the end of a six month tour,
his voice wasn't up to the task and multi tracked echo was added to
cover the failings. At one point, after a particularly badly missed
attempt at a note, the following one was replaced by Gillan laughing
at his own blunder. You've got to admire the man for his honesty.
In fact the lack of vocal range wasn't as obvious anyway as instead
of really overplaying the vocal/guitar duel Blackmore slipped in something
that probably confused the 'Deepest Purple' compilation-buying fan,
a segment of Jesus Christ Superstar. While they may have recognised
the song its significance would possibly be lost as Gillan had nothing
to do with that particular song as the character he played/sang on
the album was dead. Yes, he was Jesus on the original soundtrack album,
a job he was offered after Andrew Lloyd Webber heard Child in Time.
We were not to be so lucky tonight as, for about the only time on
the tour CiT was omitted from the set. You could blame the late start
but I think the lack of vocal range was maybe the real reason.
Explanation time. If you were confused by the title of the album the
next introduction is where the inspiration arose. As a little prelude
to another new track Ritchie started playing something slow and bluesy,
though not Wasted Sunsets which many of us would have liked to hear
live. Gillan led into it with "What we all need now is a little, an
enormous amount of pink. But, in the absence of some pink here's some
Blues for ya." The blues didn't last long, long enough however
for the crowd to roar appreciatively as the band explored rare ground,
something slow, before stepping up the tempo and power for A Gypsy's
Kiss. If Gillan missed the odd word in SKOW here he adlibbed the entire
first half dozen lines! Still, on the night a good proportion of the
audience were so exhausted or drunk they probably never noticed. The
middle instrumental break fair rollicked along with Hammond following
guitar licks and then blasting out for a few bars to remind Gillan
he was back on in a few seconds.
the guitar dominated rollercoaster ride it was time for a brief pause
to regain breath as Gillan told one of his endearing stories that
inspired the other confusion on the album cover; Perfect Street
Rangers. If you've read closely you'll have worked out what the
track should be called (think the abbreviated version: Perfect St.
Rangers) but Gillan introduced it as a tale of a football team, the
Rangers, who played out of Perfect Street. Daftness aside nothing
could hide the solid majesty of the title and one of two standout
tracks on the reunion album. In fact, Perfect Strangers is
really the tale of the good old days and getting back together again
but with a certain distance being maintained. Adding to the excellence
here Lord shone, thick Hammond chords filled the damp night as a green
laser-formed cage tried its best to protect us from the rain. The
beams reflected around the stage between perfectly placed mirrors
then out over the crowds heads flickering in time to the solid rhythm
of the music. To this day Perfect Strangers remains in the set and,
though the Hammond tone differs and the lasers no longer accompany
the music, audiences still adore the song.
Under the Gun was played here but omitted from the radio transmission
and thus the CD release. Another new track, it rocked and went down
well but adding Wasted Sunsets in its place may have provided a little
more variety to the set.
back in time again, back in fact to that MiJ setlist, and Ritchie
played around with Paice, trying to catch him out with several waves
of stop-start riffs the drummer was expected to match. Tonight Paice
managed admirably and so Blackmore moved on to Lazy. As usual
this was a bit of a rest for Gillan's vocal chords, something in a
more bluesy vein. Other than a couple of short verses he played harmonica
and added to the Glover/Paice
rhythm section care of his trusty congas, tonight adding an extra
layer of entertainment as the rainwater bounced up and down in time
to his pounding. Add to that the swinging head swishing the mane of
long dark hair around and he looked like a man possessed. Rhythm abounded
as Lazy moved into a showcase drum solo for Paice though quite what
the point of the synthesised sounds I still don't know. They certainly
didn't add much to the solo.
With the jamming out of their system it was time to move onto the other big
track from Perfect Strangers, Knocking At Your Back Door. Again
it is Lord introducing the new classic though using a synth rather
than Hammond. Those swirling Leslies soon had Hammond throbbing through
them again as the rest of then band took up the call and Gillan regaled
us with symbolic imagery: pocket rockets, and places best left unvisited…
I guess his interest in the lyrics is told by the fact he was word
perfect for both the big new tracks. Despite the foreign language
introductions having been forgotten about as soon as SKOW finished
the "cunning linguist" was mentioned in the lyrics here. Glover provides
a solid but interesting bass to the others soloing around him and
along with Paice kept the momentum going. As the final notes sank
into the mud Gillan tried to warm our spirits by announcing the weather
report, "the sun's coming out in about ten minutes!" Not that we were
fooled of course, it had rarely been out all day so not even JC Superstar
was likely to make a difference.
guitar-sourced cello effects (rotating the volume and/or tone knobs
on the white Fender Strat) paused as green light appeared as a point
in the centre of the screen. This then grew as Beethoven's Ninth (or Difficult
to Cure if you're a Rainbow fan or go by the CD tracklisting)
worked itself up from nothing to a Blackmore led crescendo. Over this
watched, looked unimpressed, then began to see the merit in a new
arrangement, and finally began tapping his foot in time, a glowing
cartoon version of Ludwig - a nice humourous touch. The music moved
from there into more straight ahead rock jamming before Lord took over
with swirling Hammond, a modicum of synth, then down a level after
switching to honky tonk piano. Not happy to let things end there it
was back with a blast of Hammond and synth together to work towards a
2001: A Space Odyssey climax whereupon the others returned (having
left the stage for Lord to do his thing) to journey somewhere the
crowd approved of judging by the shouts of approval; Space Truckin'.
Should any of the audience have been bored without Ritchie they were
revived by some sharp riffing and the rocket propelled rhythm section.
Even the echo on Gillan's "yeah, yeah, yeah's" took on a new warped
sound. And then the music changed direction, passed through a wormhole
maybe, as Hammond and bass provided a step maybe further back into
Rondo territory before switching to impulse engines and Emerson territory
with a hint of America. Not for long though as Lord was off back to Rondo land for
a while before it was time to switch to guitar effects. And the new
effect is to spin the sound around the towers that surround the crowd.
While not hugely impressive sound wise it did add another layer of
awareness that you are there rather than, like myself just now, at
home listening on headphones. One final blast of Space Truckin's chorus
to end and the band are done, crowd entertained, Made In Japan and
the current album suitably plundered.
Of course after a nine year wait there was little chance that they'd get away with that; there
are still tracks from MiJ we hadn't heard! And so they returned with
a snippet of Woman From Tokyo that didn't make the BBC broadcast and
therefore wasn't available for the CD either.
Woman From Tokyo was played here but omitted from the radio
transmission and thus the CD release.
Speed King contained the merest hint of Burn, not that
Gillan was likely to get involved in that. In fact by the time it
came around I was so tired that I didn't even notice it. You couldn't
miss the switch into Not Fade Away though before another short attempt,
slightly more successful this time, of vocal/guitar alignment and
an all cylinders firing blast to an end marked with the first salvo of
Back came the band
for a slightly swinging Black Night while the classic riff to Smoke
on the Water unsurprisingly brought things to a conclusion. As the lights
and fireworks dimmed, and thousands of people skidded through the
mud, there was plenty of smoke in the air - mainly from campfires burning
any wood they could find, and almost certainly many of the plastic
bottles that had been hurled around the audience earlier in the day.
I wandered round in an exhausted state looking for my two friends who I had arranged to meet beside the Mixer tower. For whatever reason
we missed each other and while they sensibly went to the railway station I continued to wander round looking for them. I chatted to people
and, judging by the mud encrusted jacket the following day, fell over backwards at some point. Eventually I headed for the railway station
too though arrived after the last train had departed. I was rather surprised to meet a friend from home who was supposed to be sitting comfortably
on the bus that had brought him down. It seems he had managed to lose the bus and by the time he found where it should be it had already gone.
Not the best end to the day! You can read his take on the show here.
Of course three weeks later
there was a much more famous outdoor live event and it had much more
luck in the weather department, Live Aid. While it would have been
nice to have been there for a few of the bands I think a wet Knebworth
was experience enough for one year.
Below are recollections of
some friends who shared the experience.
its all a question of where to start. A very boozy long journey down
from Stockport the night before we finally arrived at approximately
1am. We were there! The entrance to the promised land upon which the
great event would take place.
But you really want to know about my recollections of the wettest
summer solstice on record Knebworth 85.
After being at Reading and Castle Donnington, as it was called in
them days, first impressions were how big the stage and P.A. system
was and thinking it would be like a wind tunnel when the music started.
Unfortunately it was like listening to your neighbours TV next door.
It was about this time that the rumour got around that they were going
to try for the Guinness Book of Records 'loudest band in the world'
once again but the local authorities wouldn't allow it.
The stage layout was quite sterile and boring not that I was expecting
fire breathing dragons after all it was all about the music. The laser
screen was very impressive and the floating DP was simple but effective.
From where I was stood five people deep from the front of the stage
maybe that wasn't the best place for the sound but the atmosphere
was great. After the brilliant intro of Highway Star it took a while
for it to kick in for me as I was so taken away by the fact that Deep
Purple were finally all on the same stage together, and I was there.
Looking back I can remember little things like Jon's sound wasn't
how I pictured it and Richie at times was just a noise rather than
any significant plucking. I suppose coming to the end of a long tour
the strain would take its toll on Ian's voice; but the sheer fact
that I was seeing DP for the first time was enough. Over the coming
year's I saw much better performances, but none can compare with this
almost spiritual experience of Knebworth (the only thing missing were
the loaves and fishes)
Most of the "Perfect Stranger's" Songs came over really well. The
full majestic sweep of the title track plus laser's will be a memory
I always cherish the effect of which they have never really managed
to capture since.
The full two hour show seemed to pass in a blink of an eye myself
and ninety thousand other people were spellbound, they finished with
'Smoke" Richie and Roger swapping guitars much to Rogers horror. Moments
after the finally the 25 thousand pounds worth of fireworks illuminated
the sky me being so close to the stage I missed them all but I was
assured by people further back that they were impressive.
deep in mud rain and golden showers the real fun began when the lights
were turned off and everyone began to climb the muddy slope in the
dark to were the cars were parked. Now at this point after buying
every T-shirt under the sun (now theirs a change) I had 30 pound left
which was the price of a tour jacket which I was hoping to buy before
I left. After two hours of trying to find my mates and the car in
the dark with no joy it was plan B. Should I go to the coach park
or get my thumb out. Seconds later this coach appeared out of thin
air and nearly hit me and much to my shock a voice rang out with the
word's "Hounslow you c**t, get on this coach now!" so without much
thought I got on the coach and sat down for the first time in twenty
hours. An old friend of mine's friend was driving the coach and they
charged me ten pound for the journey home. Needless to say I still
haven't got a tour jacket.
There are other stories to tell about that magical weekend most of
which you already know, but my secretary says she is not here to write
a novel. So I am off to listen to the show on my Walkman in the garden.
Without the golden showers I hope.
Stephen and sec.
Here you will find a couple
of audience pictures
of the crowd and stage, rain and shine care of Charlie.
If you would like to remind
me af anything I've missed email
me or sign