Deep Purple on Gazprom

ian-gillan022008.jpgWhen looking for insightful political analysis over complex issues of authoritarianism, resource nationalism, and human rights abuses, of course Western culture tends to look toward its rock stars. Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, however, boldly demonstrates that he is certainly no Bono in a by-lined article he authored for the Times about his private concert at the Kremlin. It surpasses belief how an aging rock star can be so blissfully unaware of even the slightest problems in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. At the very least, Gillan claims that he asked Alexei Miller to push back the deadline for the gas cut-off to the Ukraine by eight hours so as not to spoil the concert. Given that Miller listened to him, perhaps we should all ask Gillan to solicit Medvedev to release Russia’s political prisoners? See a video of the performance here. From the Times:

A lot of Russian people of a certain generation learnt their English through hearing rock and pop songs on the radio. That’s how Medvedev got into Deep Purple. We used to play songs like Child in Time, which told them that there were people on the outside of their country who felt similarly disenchanted with their leaders. It’s quite refreshing now to see how things have loosened up in Russia. The gig at the Kremlin was fun but it wasn’t wild. If people aren’t used to going to rock shows they don’t know what the protocol is. It’s quite hard to go mental when you’re in a suit and you’ve just come from the office. But playing for a more reserved crowd is nothing new for us. We’ve played in Japan where they’re very reserved. The applause comes on and off like a tap and they all stand up and sit down at exactly the same time. (…)

The Kremlin gig wasn’t as straight as all that. The younger guys and more junior staff were all up on their feet, although they were looking nervously over at their bosses to see whether they could loosen their ties. It was as if they were asking, “How much fun are we allowed to have?” I’m sure I could have had everyone on their feet but I knew Tina Turner was on next and it wouldn’t have been cool to do that.When we had finished our show, Medvedev and Alexei Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, came into our dressing room where we had a chat and a couple of drinks. We didn’t get a chance to meet President Vladimir Putin but when the previous acts were on – an opera singer and a dance troupe – he was up there dancing with his tie loosened.When we met Medvedev he had this stupid grin on his face because he was meeting his favourite band. We had a nice chat but we didn’t talk about politics. All of us in the band have such wildly different opinions on religion and politics that we never get into it.