If someone told me that this particular Friday would be so full of crazy stuff, I would totally believe him or her. But let us unwrap Friday gift from the beginning of time… Ok, let’s do it only from the beginning of the day. The day started quite usually – walking up, taking a shower, going to work, and making myself worthy for the time I am given to walk on this planet simply named Earth. So, what on Earth happened next? The unusual part, ladies and gents, or I could put it this way: The unusual part for the usual people. For the ones that are considered unusual by the usual ones – what happened for the rest of the day was quite usual, but in a totally unusual way. Boy, did I fell into some sort of deep philosophy before I even took my breath, but that’s the way I’m used to. Now for real, for “once upon a time” starts below.
After wraping up the working part of the week, I quickly packed my things, stopped by for a cup of coffee at one of the still living rock bars in Osijek, and then purchased a “full tank” at the gas station. The “Bat-Signal” was shining from the Eastern part of the sky. It was time to go.
While driving towards Belgrade, somewhere near the border between Croatia and Serbia, I stopped, in the middle of the dark, at the side of the road to make a phone call. My hazard lights were on, everything was regular, and I noticed a van stopping behind me. It was the local police, so we had a brief, interogation “who, what, where?”chat. They checked my documents, and when I said where I was going, the next moment I was on my way to the border control. Then another wonderful miracle did occur. No jam, no waiting for the sunrise at the border. Very soon I was steering across a macadam road to the highway that leads towards Belgrade. Accompanied by loud music playing from the speakers of my crazy Corsa mule, two hours of road trip passed rather quickly, and I was entering the capital of Serbia at around 7:15 p.m. This is were the shit has started to hit the fan.
In a few seconds, I was stuck in a massive centipede of cars, trucks and buses moving in a manner of a laziest sloth there is. Through a symphony of trumpeting vechiles, followed by above mentioned sloth moves, after more than half an hour, I was somewhere near the new part of Belgrade where I rented a place to stay. But for the new and next half an hour, I only stayed in circles driving around Štark Arena because the navigation system decided to play hide and seek with the address I was given. After declaring my defeat against modern technology, I went to the Štark Arena parking lot, and asked a human being for directions. The good news is that we are still smarter that the AI! Not to gamble again with the GPS, I parked the car, and went for a 10 minute walk to the apartment to pick the keys from the owner, and leave my stuff there. After another 10 minutes of walking back, I was in front of Štark Arena again, but guess what? More trouble came my way!
The security squad “guarding” the Arena did not have a clue where the Press entrance is.After trying at every entrance with the same question, and millions of different info gathered, I discovered it at last. Yes, it was the only entrance left, and that means I made another full circle around the Štark Arena, now by foot. As I was finished with my P.I. task, and the accreditation was within my hands, I had to go for another half a circle to reach the entrance to the stands I was located. Yes, it was 9 p.m., I was finally inside, but we have to fill in the void.
As I missed the opening act, my other P.I. case was to find out what happened inside while I was fighting my own battles outside. The merry people next to me provided me with the information that most of the audience missed merely half of the Monster Truck performance as well. They blamed the organizers for not announcing the fact that Monster Truck will start earlier than it was planned. As I had few trustful extended ears inside, they told me that the four piece Canadian rock attraction played a fine set that durated for aproximately hour and a half. The band played in a heavy, but sometimes mellow and bluesy manner, providing the lucky part of the present audience with the sounds mostly taken from their three full length albums”Sittin’ Heavy”, “Furiosity”, and “True-Rockers”, among some other numbers that had the priviledge to crash inside their Štark Arena rep. The ones that have seen and heard them were absolutely thrilled. Monster Truck truly proved why they are one of the leading acts within their genre nowdays. If my extended ears are lying, you can always “file a complaint to the Vodovod administration.”
Now it’s time to for a transition that leads back to sector 223, row 1, seat 2, where I was just entering the crowded Štark Arena, and the allfathers of heavy music just started to play. Being located at the right opposite direction of the stage, I could see and hear everything perfectly. The sound that Deep Purple was delivering to the audience was so up to date, but yet you know that their are existing as a band for more than half of a century! In addition to that, the Deep Purple guys are obviously not in their twenties anymore, but their energy was bursting like their were preparing for a run-in to take over the world. As a matter of fact, they did exactly that, and that is why they have loyal audience anywhere on the map. One of the best bands ever was playing in front of me, and the rest of the audience, and yes, we could feel the deep and purple force rising above us, entering our minds and hearts. Ian Gillan, Paice, Roger Glover, Don Airey, and Steve Morse launched us into The Long Goodbye journey, and seatbelts were not an option. As I was scanning the scene, I realized there were not so many younger fans present, but mostly older, loyal ones around. Youngsters, you don’t know what a night you missed, and you probably missed it for eternity. Maybe a couple of times at least, since Deep Purple became an usual act in Serbia, which Ian Gillan confirmed by stating that, after all these visits, they truly feel safe and like home. That did not made them fall into a routine. As a matter of fact, it seemed they were playing with more passion and motive, just to please the fans gathered on a ground they already know so well. The proud members of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame played their most noticable numbers from their most, and well known albums such as “Machine Head”, “Deep Purple in Rock”, “Fireball”, “inFinite”, “Now What?!”, “Perfect Strangers”, and “Purpendicular”.
From opening with one of the biggest wonders in heavy music, “Highway Star”, to saying their final goodbye with “Black Night”, the show was filled with improvised chapters that kind of splitted the whole performance into pieces. The song order was also like that. But to run away from a well learned play, Deep Purple masters bombed us with a crazy ammount of guitar, keyboard, drum and bass solos, and other instrumental pieces, that my ears were bleeding, but not from a musical disaster, but from the sounds of joy and harmony that only this band can produce. In all their greatness, they did not forget to mention one of their fallen brothers, Jon Lord, a master that now plays keyboards somewhere in the Silver City. The biggest bang was on the most famous guitar riff in history of rock’n’roll, “Smoke On The Water”. You heard the recording form more than billion times I suppose, but when Purple plays it live, it sounds os fresh, different, and new, but yet so well known. It was so funny to listen to the song announcements as well. You got to love that catchy British accent, with a bit of not understanding a thing they say. It sounded something like Ozzy Osbourne turned from Prince of Darkness to a Sir of Light.
After 90 minutes of duration, the magic ended by Roger Glover’s bass solo which was swallowed by the rest of the band performing “Black Night” as the last song of the evening. After greeting us, and expressing their gratitude, Deep Purple left, probably for the last time ever, the stage in Belgrade. With a bit of sadness regarding that fact, but with lots of pride, I walked back to my car on the cold December night thinking about the strong impact that the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock left on the generations of Earth’s population.