So after delving into out respective record collections and listening to Deep Purple all week, the Sheriff and I were almost giddy with excitement as we headed up to Elgin’s Festival Park to finally bear witness to one of rock’s seminal groups for the very first time.
But before we go there, almost more fascinating than the concert itself, was having the opportunity to walk through a crowd with Pat Perez.
You see, after eight long years in office, most elected officials would rather furtively dart down dark alleyways than have to face the torches and pitchforks of their perennially discontented constituents. But not in this case!
Everybody loves the Sheriff and everyone wants to shake his hand. And that kind of electoral adulation is especially difficult to come by for a politician whose raison d’etre is law enforcement.
I bet Pat could’ve given Deep Purple a real run for their popularity money.
Then The Orchestra took the stage right on time and knocked out some dead on renditions of those amazing ELO hits we’d all almost forgotten about. After so many years, songs like Do Ya, Telephone Line, All Over the World and Turn Stone, took on the fervor and transcendence of really good gospel music.
It certainly brought me back to those Evanston Township High School days where I’d pedal that bike home as fast as I could just to blast A New World Record on my father’s reasonably competent stereo system.
Then, after a brief intermission, it was on to the headliners. And let me tell ya, Deep Purple did not disappoint. There may be a certain incongruity to watching aging rock ‘n rollers ply their trade (and to be aging right along with them!), but Steve Morse, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan and Don Airey can still bring it!
When you see some of those groups from our collective youth in concert, they seem to simply be going through the motions, but not Deep Purple. It was abundantly clear they were having a lot of fun on that stage and that dynamic created a wonderful feedback loop in which the band feeds the audience and, in turn, the audience feeds the band.
I don’t think Steve Morse stopped smiling for the entire set. There’s certainly something to be said for doing what you love.
Ah! But when the first strains of the first riff every guitarist learns to play blasted across the anticipating park, the crowd went nuts! Can it possibly get any more rock ‘n roll than Smoke on the Water?
And people showed up to see ‘em. There had to be at least 5 to 6,000 paying fans and an untold number more watching from various vantage points around Festival Park. It’s truly gratifying to be able to say that Elgin was the place to be last night.
To make the evening even better, perhaps there’s some extra-dimensional quantum magic involved, but once again, the Elgin Police got the exiting throng on their way home in record time.
But here’s the best thing about it. On a planet where 80 percent of the people have nothing better to do than to try their best to bring you down, this concert sent our collective spirits soaring. Sadly, these days, those kind of uplifting experiences are too few and far between.
So I want to thank the Grand Victoria’s Jim Thomason and Suzanne Phillips, Mayor Kaptain and the Elgin City Council, and promoter Ron Onesti for making this summer a lot better than I thought it would be.
I can’t wait to see who’s coming to Festival Park next year!