Kremlin rocks to Deep Purple
By Michael Stott
MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin rocked to the sound of British band Deep Purple on Monday in a gig with a difference.
The fans wore furs, suits or war medals rather than jeans and T-shirts; they arrived in black chauffeured limousines not buses; and the front row of the audience included Russia's likely next president Dmitry Medvedev and a top former KGB spy.
The occasion was the 15th birthday party of Russia's giant firm Gazprom, which flew over the veteran British hard rock band to top a gala evening of entertainment -- and to keep the boss happy.
Gazprom chairman Medvedev, who is also the Kremlin's candidate in Russia's presidential election next month, has told interviewers Deep Purple is his favorite band. Officials at the world's biggest gas company are eager to please him.
Deep Purple, once dubbed the world's loudest band by the Guinness Book of Records, seemed almost lost in the vastness of the State Kremlin Palace which seats 6,000 people and boasts one of the world's largest stages.
As they belted out some of their 1960s and 1970s classics, including their signature hit "Smoke on the Water," the audience of mostly middle-aged men sat impassively in suits and ties, with only the odd shake of the head to indicate they were listening.
Attempts by the five-man band's front man Ian Gillan to encourage audience participation led to the kind of slow, steady handclap which used to reverberate around the wood-paneled hall during Soviet Communist Party congresses.
It was left to a small group of students and young executives sitting at the sides of the hall to wave their hands above their heads and make the odd whistle or shout. Continued...