A few days ago I had the gnarly opportunity to go see some serious old rockers – and I do mean old, but yet legends and ancient rock heroes. It was none other than Deep Purple playing at a local venue, or rather small theatre with room for about 500 people. It was nothing compared to the arenas they were able to fill in the past, but nevertheless, the place was packed full of an equally aging rock following, with me one of the younger fans.
Well, fan is probably slightly overstated as I actually only know one track, which I’ve listened to many times while a young kid and it was also the first tune I managed to learn rather quick on my electric guitar back in the days. I was even able to play this awesome tune at a college event, much to the amusement of my inner-child … my first rock concert.
The tune is of course “Smoke on the water“, which is a classic by all standards and many boys have played air-guitar, raised their hands in the heavy metal tribute and headbanged quietly along to the rhythms. Steve Morse has mastered it well, but Ritchie Blackmore is the true artist behind this track.
Anyway, back to the time machine.
I knew that this legendary concert would be well attended, primarily by middle-aged men around the same ago as the band members. So, the average age of the audience was around mid 50’s, leaving me to drag down the average. The village was funnily packed with all types of middle aged rockers, all wearing their ageing metal t-shirts supporting Tesla, Motorhead, Toto, Black Sabbath and I might have spotted a single Poison shirt too, much to the amusement of the gathering crowds.
It was amazing to witness how all these people have transformed back into what they were back in the 70s and 80’s, wearing their tough gear, bandanas and several women were trying to fit into their Hooters tops and tight worn jeans shorts – with bits hanging out from various spots. They all must have fuelled their DeLorean, raced back in time, stolen some of their old gear from their younger self, and then rushed back to the future pretending they were young again. I’m sure they even forgot they had kids and jobs, and would have to return to civilisation from planet rock the next morning.
The concert was kicked off when advertised, and there was no messing with warm-up bands, as Deep Purple headed to stage with a big bang. The first seven tracks were one after another – no break and no prisoners – full on heavy metal tunes vibrating through the theatre. Men in their mid 50s stood up, saluted the ageing Deep Purple guys with the sign of awesomeness (some might say devil worship), head-banging and mumbling along to the iconic voice of Ian Gillan.
A few mature rock ladies started dancing in the isles, much to the amusement of the equally mature rock dudes – who still managed to shout encouraging words to their dancing skills. Some of their skills would in a normal world include a dancing pole, but these totally cool women pulled off such moves with ease.
Suddenly the theatre was filled with the awesome cords of Smoke on the Water, and I will admit the hairs on my arms stood up in anticipation of the upcoming track. It something else hearing this decade old tune. The reaction from the crowd was immense. I swear some of the rockers were silently weeping and were enforcing their admiration with a double heavy metal salute.
2 hours later, the concert was over and the audience dispersed heading back to the future to attend their normal life, secretly waiting for the next gig to port them back. Perhaps Toto or Iron Maiden?
I had a blast and it was great (and very impressive) that these guys can still rock hard!
Rock hard my fellow headbangers!