The passing of Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord in 2012 was sad for the obvious reasons, but also because he was about to release a just finished re-imagining of his "Concerto for Group and Orchestra," a piece Deep Purple first played live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969, and one that is often cited as the first true meeting of classical and rock. Lord was a big part of the heavy orchestral prog rock sound of Deep Purple, and he could rock when needed, or take center stage and play pretty as the soundtrack for a majestic autumn wind. He played with other bands as time went on, including Whitesnake, but in his later years he increasingly pursued his aspirations as a classical composer. Which brings us to this set, one of two volumes derived from a historic tribute concert held April 4, 2014 at Royal Albert Hall that marked the 45th anniversary of when Lord's "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" first debuted there. Surviving members of Deep Purple were on hand for the tribute, as well as Paul Weller, Whitesnake's Micky Moody, Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman and many others, including the Orion Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann. The evening opened with a classical set from the orchestra (that portion of the night can be heard on Celebrating Jon Lord: The Composer, the second volume of this set), then went to a more rock-oriented second act, before concluding with a set by Deep Purple, complete with an all-star closing version of "Hush." The two rock portions of the evening are what we find here, including highlights from Paul Weller ("Things Get Better" and a fiery R&B take on "I Take What I Want") and Glenn Hughes (on the lovely, haunting, and orchestrated "This Time Around") and the bouncing, joyous, and huge-sounding 11-minute all-hands-in all-star jaunt through "Hush" to close it all out. It's both fun and reverent, and it helps show just how much vision Lord really had for a classical/rock fusion, and in retrospect, how Deep Purple personified that vision.
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