Deep Purple Expected to Draw 100,000 for Controversial Concert
Deep Purple's decision to perform in Turkish-occupied Cyprus may not be sitting well with certain pundits and a number of fans, but the show itself looks like it's shaping up to be a colossal event.
Bravewords reports that more than 100,000 are expected to turn out for the concert, which takes place May 24 in a specially built stage at Near East University as part of the college's 25th anniversary celebration. Calling it "a musical event that will be remembered for ages and a special journey that will overcome all barriers and borders," the chairman of the university's board of trustees told reporters, "Deep Purple is a common passion for several generations of people. And we wanted to organize a historical event that will be remembered for generations. To emphasize this, we're saying, ‘Get your sleeping bag and come along.'"
All of which seems pretty terrific, but the region's troubled political situation has caused some to question whether the band should be playing there. As singer Ian Gillan explained in an open letter posted at his official site, however, being in a successful rock band means traveling to a whole bunch of countries, "all of which have a conflict with somebody or another, and all with behaviour and traditions that someone else doesn't like."
In fact, as Gillan went on to explain, the closest he's ever come to refusing to play in a country was when British prime minister Tony Blair led the UK into the invasion of Iraq, which "made me angry, and ashamed enough to think about excommunicating Britain." But, he added, that would have gone "against our historical position, which is: To perform anywhere we are invited, regardless of local difficulties/conflict, wars, earthquakes, riots, typhoons, strikes, rebellions, gun-fire and so on."
"And so it should be with Cyprus, across the divide," concluded Gillan. "And may I add that our many previous visits to Turkey and Greece have been fabulous; I personally have friends in both countries. That is my position. May peace be in your hearts."