Exactly a year after I got to witness the return of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in Birmingham, the band were back with their first UK tour in many years. Being able to say that I have seen the band is a dream come true, being able to say that I have seen two of their shows in the space of a year is just unreal.
When I attended the event last night, there was a great mix of people in the crowd from little kids, their parents, to their parents and even grand parents. But there was a lot of talk from the older generation that I found a little sad. By that, I mean I don’t think a lot of the older generation quite appreciated what they were getting last night. There were a lot of comments (through out the venue) regarding how the performance would not be the same as the ’70s and ’80s. What these people don’t realise is that the people of my generation or younger have never had the opportunity to see Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow live and for Scottish rock fans like myself under the age of thirty five, this was something we never thought we would get to see and are grateful for every second we got from the band.
With all that said, the band sounded fantastic for the most part last night. By comparison to last year’s show, it was clear within the first minutes that Ritchie and the boys had rehearsed more. Not only did Ritchie Blackmore himself play considerably better with a lot more consistency, precision and a big boost in confidence, the band themselves felt more enthusiastic and a lot less nervous.
Much like the previous year Rainbow hit the stage with the Joe Lynn Turner classic Spotlight Kid. But unlike the previous year, every note came out much clearer and considerably sharper. The band sounded magnificent from the get go. I Surrender came next with a great belting performance from Ronnie Romero that continued through Mistreated and Since You’ve Been Gone. It is interest to note how well Romero’s voice suits songs written for different singers like David Coverdale, Ronnie Dio and the previously mentioned Joe Lynn Turner. Even though he has a much more coarse singing voice than these singers, he always belts them out with good consistency and a lot of power. I especially loved his performance in Mistreated, though that was not just a highlight for Romero but the band as a whole. The song was less drawn out compared to last year and felt a lot more enjoyable for it.
After that magnificent set highlight, the band blasted out the Russ Ballard fan favourite, Since You Been Gone which ended before the solo and quickly transitioned into Man on the Silver Mountain and Sixteenth Century Greensleeves. These songs were great to hear and worked very well battered out in quick succession. To round off this group of songs we got a lovely rendition of Soldier of Fortune (another highlight for Romero) and Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers. The latter is another example of the band sounding tighter then before. In Birmingham Perfect Strangers was a little too loose but was short, tight and snappy in Glasgow. The extra power provided to the organ and guitar really helped make the sound pop out the PA for that matter.
Right after this, the band played the set instrumental Difficult To Cure. All was going well with the band sounding extremely energetic when all of a sudden the band leave the stage. At this point the audience looked puzzled as poor Jens Johansson had the spotlight on him as he performed a keyboard solo for what felt like an eternity. Look, I love this guys previous work. I know very well what this guy is capable of, he is a legend in the world of heavy metal but someone needs to have a word with the person who decided this was a good idea. Half way through the keyboard solo, the crowd lost their cool shouting and booing at the stage. Something I have never seen during a performance.
Thankfully the band had the sense to come back on stage to play an excellent guitar heavy rendition of All Night Long, a good lengthy version of Child In Time and a hair raising performance of Stargazer. Stargazer also came across more powerful and hard hitting then it did last year. The added bass drum fills at the start really gave drummer David Keith a bit more credibility with the old timers. Which to be fair, he sounded great playing next to Bob Nouveau all night. The two are a great rhythm section with their chemistry clearly being a lot smoother this time round. The main set finished off with the classic Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll. This one wasn’t quite as impactful as the previous tracks but had a nice shuffling groove and felt a little laid back by comparison. I actually quite enjoyed the song this way. It kind of gave the band some breathing room and had a great groove thanks to the previous mentioned bassist and drummer.
After a very short (and pointless) wait, Rainbow came back for their encore playing Deep Purple’s Burn, Black Night and Smoke On The Water. I won’t deny that I could have done without the last two songs as I have heard them way too much over the years and I’d like to wager that Ritchie Blackmore himself is sick to death of playing them. I was however surprised to hear the band play The Temple of the King from the band’s debut album. I personally would have played the previous song and followed it up with the beautiful and sadly missing Catch The Rainbow. But that is just my opinion and who am I to dispute Ritchie Blackmore’s choice in songs.
The show last night was not perfect by any means, but I’d rather have a band flub a chord or two every now and again then play the song exactly how it is on CD. That kind of unpredictability is what I want to see from Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and was exactly what we got last night. To make the night even better, the sound man responsible for the show did a wonderful job with how the band sounded. Even up in the balcony, both Mostly Autumn and Rainbow came across beautifully with each instrument coming across powerful and crystal clear. I would recommend this tour to any fan out there who wants to witness this legend in person. As far as concerts go, I have no problems seeing this line up on tour again and I hope they go on the road this time next year as I feel that this line up has a lot of talent and it would be a crying shame to under utilise it.
We had a blast two shows running, now lets make it three!