09.03.01, Melbourne, Australia
Rod Laver Arena

Steve Turner,


      Well life will never be the same again... I am sitting in an Internet Cafe in lovely Bondi Beach, Sydney, writing this account of my Deep Purple experience. For those of you who don't know, Bondi is a beach town with great surf, beautiful scenery and very expensive real estate. Fit and athletic locals mix with grotty tourists (like myself) on the main street and I really wish I had a decent suntan... The Beautiful People indeed...

MELBOURNE 09/03/2001 (Rod Laver Arena) - The Beginning of a Rock Odyssey:

      I met up with Igor and Leon on Friday afternoon and we headed off to the Deep Purple concert in Melbourne. We got there in time to catch the last few songs of the support band, Nitorcris. They are a 'girl' band and though I quite liked their material I was surprised they received such a positive crowd response given the diverse audience demographic. Purple started at about 9pm. Ian Paicie was first on and after a few reassuring skin smacks the others casually took their places on the stage. They opened with Woman from Tokyo, a winning choice judging by the huge and riotous crowd response. The set list was:

Woman From Tokyo
Ted The Mechanic
Mary Long
No One Came
Black Night
Sometime I Feel Like Screaming
Guitar Radio Search (Stairway as the main jam)
Smoke On The Water
Perfect Strangers
When a Blind Man Cries
Speed King (Off stage, back for encore)
Highway Star

Highlights for me personally included Ted the Mechanic - a song that always makes me go VaVoom. Perfect Strangers was as majestic as always. Steve Morse ripping into 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson) during his Smoke on the Water intro just about snapped my mind - sure it only lasted a few seconds but it doesn't take that much to challenge my slight grasp on reality... The perfect rendition of the instrumental middle section of the radio version of Stairway to Heaven during Morse's fragmented radio search intro to Smoke was an unlooked for gem. Sometimes I feel Like Screaming is also a song that gets more beautiful every time I hear DP live - it is truly a worthy rock classic. John Lord's solo section was also very contemporary and beautiful, I never get tired of listening to his piano style playing.
      Augmenting the band were 3 brass players beefing up the sound in songs like Ted the Mechanic and Perfect Strangers. It was a great colouristic addition to the rock sound of the band. There were also three women dancing and singing backup vocals for Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming and other tracks. VaVoom! These singers did more than just look great, unlike the women dancing to the side of stage at the Rod Laver on the last tour... What was with that!?? I saw Purple twice on the last tour and am positively amazed to say that this performance was musically even better! The set was shorter and there were fewer 'solos', which was a big shame, but the band seemed even tighter. The Rod Laver arena in Melbourne is certainly an awesome venue for Rock gigs as far as sound quality goes.
      The down side of the Rod Laver is that the civilized and organised structure makes it a poor venue for fans to rock out and enjoy themselves. I tried to get from my seated section place down to the floor but the security people were insecure about letting me down the front. Poor me! Anyway, I resigned myself to my fate as the seat I had was pretty good anyway, but being the rock head that I am I just love to be against the barrier with the band right up close. I saw Purple on the last tour at the Palace in Melbourne and the smaller, more intimate venue was a lot more atmospheric and suitable for a rock gig.
      The demographic of the 2001 Melbourne gig was fairly varied. There were plenty of the older crowd but also many young fans. The usual array of rock chicks in tight pants were present and the vibe was very high. The floor area, of course, went nuts during Black Night and ended up all over the barrier as any true rock fan should (damned security!). The crowd stayed forward and the band seemed quite happy to accommodate their high energy and out of tune singing.
      The funniest part of the gig was when Ian Gillan started a conversation with Steve Morse, responding through his guitar. Gillan was taking the piss out of Morse's 'chicken picking' type of phrasing and at one point caused Morse to break into laughter and lose his train of thought. This is the kind of thing that makes me LOVE seeing Purple - the humour and the obvious respect shared between the musicians.

SYDNEY 10/03/2001 (Sydney Entertainment Centre) - Slight Return:

      On Saturday I met with Leon and Igor again and we went to the airport in Melbourne. I took my custom guitar and managed to convince the lovely people at IMPULSE airlines to let me take it into the passenger area and put it in an overhead storage compartment. It is important that guitars are not placed in decompressed storage due to the effect of the water in the wood freezing, expanding, and causing the guitar to change shape... Anyway, Impulse were accommodating once I politely stated my case and I am grateful for their excellent customer service.
      After dropping our stuff at Igor's place in Bondi Beach we went to the gig and caught most of the support band. DP started at about 9pm again and played another awesome show. I am constantly amazed by Morse's soloing - very few phrases were repeated from his performance the night before... The quality of his improvisation is something I have never seen before in a rock act because rock guitarists generally play composed lines straight from the CD. Then again, Morse is not exactly definable as a rock guitarist. Of course some of the parts were the same - familiar hooks and jumping out points - but these parts were outnumbered by the unpredictable and original phrases around them. The sound at the Sydney Entertainment Centre was not as good as the Rod Laver in Melbourne. It was a little muddy and the gig was also somewhat shorter. DP dumped two songs and the Gillan/Morse interplay was much less prolonged. The fans were also a LOT quieter in Sydney. The rush to the front occurred only sporadically - people returning to their seats as quickly as they hit the barrier. Most of the front rows were of the more mature generation - and though they have a right to exist and to attend DP gigs (and even be in the band), I sincerely believe the front rows and floor area should be reserved for people willing to give the performers back the energy they are putting out! This fact compounded my frustration at not being on the barrier in true Rock fashion - but then again, my seat was excellent anyway. I had a great view of Morse and the band and observed some wicked playing. Despite the sound and the lack of crowd response the gig was great, though I do feel the Melbourne show was better due to more songs, interplay and superior sound quality. We went home satisfied and Igor and I had a bit of a guitar jam... Feeling inspired...


      On Sunday we woke early and got organised for the Steve Morse guitar clinic at the Basement in Sydney. The Basement is a bar with a stage area and was a suitably intimate environment for a Guitar Clinic. The tables and chairs allowed us to relax and observe the Master in peace. Morse opened the clinic with XXXXXXXX and began chatting. He only played a few songs, being:


Steve was on stage for about 90 minutes and answered various questions with good humour and a completely open nature. I was in heaven. To see Morse play up close was a dream come true and made up for my distance during the DP shows. Morse was a perfect gentleman and his personality was exactly as I had assumed from reading his Open Ears column, numerous interviews and listening to his music itself.
      It cost thirty-five dollars AUS to attend the clinic (that's about one dollar eighty in real non-Aussie money) and Morse seemed uncomfortable with this charge. He explained that when he does clinics it is usually free because corporate sponsors cover the promotional costs and venue fees. Apparently this money was not forthcoming in the Aussie clinics so a cover charge had to be put in place. None of the clinics I have attended have been free, so I never even thought twice about the cost. Still, it was nice to hear what happens elsewhere... After Steve finished his clinic I asked his Tech if I could meet Morse to show him my custom guitar - which had been modeled in part on the Morse signature model. The tech went backstage to ask Steve what he would like to do. A minute later Steve was next to me and holding my prized guitar... He seemed to like it and we chatted a little about acoustic bridges and that kind of guitar geek stuff. I was nervous, I must say. I was blown away by his patience with myself and the other fans and though I had so much to say and ask I knew I would not be able to and as soon as he came out my mind went blank anyway... Morse allowed Igor to photograph him, myself and my guitar - which means a lot to me.
      After speaking to Steve I withdrew to the queue for signings. His guitar tech came along the queue and gave each of us Steve Morse guitar picks... Now I have three including two from the last tour. While Steve was signing for another fan he knocked a poster onto the floor and being the class clown I came out with something along the lines of "When a poster falls in a guitar clinic, does anybody hear?" Okay, so it isn't that funny, but at the time it was kind of fitting. Regardless, Steve laughed and smiled very widely. Isn't it great to see that even a guitar God can experience normal human emotions? Surely it is absolutely essential...
      Steve was sitting at a table and when I got to him he said "Hey, you look familiar" and smiled. I had not wanted to pressure him for an autograph when I showed him my guitar because I had known he would make himself available a bit later. He had a roll of clinic posters to sign and give to fans. As we spoke he offered to sign the Open Ears book that I was holding (I completely forgot I had it with me...). We chatted briefly about Open Ears articles and he seemed to appreciate my response to his written words - that we all do the mechanics differently and though technical learning is important it is only successful within the context of an overall approach to music and musicianship. My nerves were a bit less jittery at this point but I still almost forgot to get a photo, luckily the guy behind me reminded me and Steve posed for a photo that I really hope turns out! Igor, Leon and I left the clinic on cloud nine and it still has not worn off.


Believe it or not, I am not really into hero worship. I have met a lot of very talented musicians. Some have been famous and some just very successful in themselves. It is obvious that just being good at playing an instrument does not a good person make. I do believe that being a good person can go a long way to improving musicianship. After all, our self expression is exactly that - expression of one's inner self and a true artist is someone who can truly express that essence. I would much rather experience the self expression of a patient and considerate, insightful and articulate, humorous and wise person than the many alternative options of character definition. Then again, maybe none are better, just different.
      Meeting Steve Morse means so much to me because of his huge musical career and involvement in so many different projects - he has played with and is a fan of many of the musicians that I enjoy. It meant a lot to me because of the openness of his communication with fans of his music. It is easy to feel like we know him, at least to some degree. Given his patience and good nature meeting him was like meeting a friend.
      On an unrelated note, Wayne's World 2 is on TV tonight... Long Live Rock and Roll.