The efforts to play up Medvedev’s heavy-metal credentials can hardly be seen as a vote-winning publicity stunt, as he already has the endorsement of current leader Vladimir Putin and the March 2 election looks to be no more than a shoo-in.

“It was good, but weird,” says Dmitry Zaretsky of Moscow-based SAV Entertainment, which booked the headliners and organised the production.

Turner, who flew in straight after the Grammys, and Deep Purple both played 45-minute sets. Most of the rest of a lineup of Russian acts, including Alla Pugacheva, Maksim Galkin, Oleg Gazmanov and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, played only a couple of songs each, and many performed to playback.

The February 11 show in front of an invited audience at the 5,500-capacity Kremlin Palace, which has hosted shows from such acts as Joe Cocker and Elton John, was put together for state gas firm Gazprom.

It was a celebration of the company’s 15th anniversary and a thank-you to tribute to Medvedev, who is stepping down as Gazprom chairman in time for next month’s presidential vote.

Zaretsky said Putin made a speech and watched some of the entertainment but Medvedev, a devoted Deep Purple fan, stayed throughout the evening.

“I’ve loved hard rock since my school days,” the former lawyer from St. Petersburg has been known to let drop during interviews. He’s also reported to be a big fan of Black Sabbath.

This is not Medvedev’s first intimate Deep Purple encounter. He and 70 other political and business figures brought Joe Lynn Turner, who was Purple’s lead singer for one album, to Moscow for a concert last year.

Zaretsky says SAV is expecting a busy spring and summer and has already confirmed Gary Moore for Moscow’s B-1 Maximum (April 18) and Mark Knopfler in the city’s Olympic Arena (April 27).

KISS plays the Olympic Arena (May 24) followed by Lenny Kravitz (June 14), while the biggest show looks to be Metallica’s July 18 appearance at St. Petersburg SKK.