„I want to play!” Is the first musical thought that blew my head at the age of seven. It happened after listening to the album Made in Japan (Deep Purple), which „reproduced” my dad on an old communist, reel-to-reel tape recorder. It was an absolute breakthrough for me as a child and since then I have been „infected” with music, and in particular with mysticism, mystery and magic of Ritchie Blackmore – an absolute legend and guitarist of all time.
Well… Ritchie Blackmore is in the game! The Legendary Guitarist, creator of unforgettable songs, „man in black” well known in the music industry as a „black sheep”. This great guitarist, who was once the main character of Deep Purple, still performs … with that style! This incredibly charismatic person continuously giving concerts and recording albums with his mystical BLACKMORE`S NIGHT – a band founded together with his beautiful wife Candice Night – very talented and characteristic vocalist, decided to reborn RAINBOW. In life and in music the balance must be preserved. The time has come that „black knight” decided to use his strat and shake the rock world again.
On 16 July 2016 in Leipzig (Germany) a special concert of the group „BLACKMORE`S NIGHT” took place. Two years later – on 20 April 2018 in Prague (Czech Republic) was a sensational show of the band called RAINBOW! It is true that RAINBOW was reactivated in 2016, but … I would like to review those two concerts in this article … why? First of all, despite the fact that „BLACKMORE`S NIGHT” is Ritchie’s main band, it’s his two opposing musical faces. Secondly … these were my „first” concerts of those two legendary bands in which I had the pleasure to participate in.
Blackmore`s Night 16 July 2016 (Leipzig, Germany)
An amazing event … it was my first time „live” with the charisma and the legend of Ritchie Blackmore in the shape of his magical folk rock band „Blackmore`s Night”. 2016 is also a breakthrough year because that year the mentioned guitar master has just reformed Rainbow. In the meantime, the concert of the mystical Blackmore’s Night, which took place on July 16 in Leipzig (Germany), was also the last show from the tour „All Our Yesterdays.” So reaching the place, dressed in period robes, I walked proudly to the venue at Parkbuhne which is located in the beautiful Clara Zetkin Park. The concert place was filled to the brim with people taking part in the truest and greatest Reinessance Fair ever! There I met Paul Glass, a photographer who was at the first concerts of the newly rebuilt Rainbow in Germany back in 2016, and also told me that Ritchie is no longer using his signed strat at Blackmore’s Night concerts, because he had already booked it for Rainbow’s concerts, which made me slightly embarrassed, because I thought that the „man in black” would also treat us with some „electric” sounds. There was no strat, but that evening I did not feel his lack at all … The concert begins, Ritchie enters the stage – all eyes are turned towards him, I hear the first sounds of „Dancer and the Moon”… a great and fabulous musical journey begins… I’ve been waiting for this all my life. The medieval melodies played by the master Blackmore are also accompanied by an amazing scenery – like in the theater on one of those Shakespeare’s plays … The stage is decorated with flowers, imitations of trees, rocks, elements referring to nature, on the edge of the stage there is a wooden sign with the inscription „Marchenwald” on it …
I am in a different world, for my rock 'n’ roll soul it is a completely new experience, although I have heard all the albums of 'Blackmore`s Night’, I did not expect that the live performance would be so energetic and unpredictable. Now enters the whole section, keyboard instruments “Bard David of Larchmont” (David Baranowski), drums „Troubador Of Aberdeen” or David Keith (also drummer of the current Rainbow band) on bass “Earl Gray of Chimay” (Mike Clemente). The musical atmosphere is also filled with the enchanted violins of “Scarlet Fiddler” (Claire Smith) and a magic flute of Candice Night, which after a while turns into a tambourine and finally into an angelic and full of inspiration vocal. When it’s time for the chorus and… „Hey, hey, hey …” – Ritchie himself leans out to the audience giving a sign and encouraging them to scream and have fun together, and oh yes… it was a great concert. My favorite songs – hypnotic and mystical „Darkness”, the mysterious „Under a Violet Moon”, the lofty „World of Stone”, the instrumental „Durch Den Wald Zum Bach haus”, as well as „Fires at Midnight”, „Wish You Were Here” or „Moonlight Shadow” were there! The virtuosity and the melodic nature of Ritchie’s play flows straight from his heart, there`s no doubt about it.
Suddenly, everything stopped, Ritchie took a seat on the stool, and Candice sat on the edge of the stage… „Soldier of Fortune” has started – beautiful, romantic ballad, which was the only reference to Deep Purple, but definitely enough one – you could really feel the home and very family atmosphere of the moment. The whole concert, in addition to excellent music and scenery, was also complemented by a huge screen located at the back of the stage, showing various themes in accordance with the currently performed song. It should be mentioned here that the song „Toast to Tomorrow” was a special and very fun performance, this energetic and joyful song of such a title was abruptly interrupted by a rather unusual scene … well, after the Russian monologue of Bard David of Larchmont, who suddenly ran out into the middle of the stage, starting to perform a typical Russian dance with squats, jumps and throwing legs, or so-called „kazaczok”. After a moment of this spontaneous and funny madness a “reinessanse lady” entered the stage, whacked a brave and robust fellow straight in his face, then she held him out of the stage on her hands … Ritchie spread his hands, and the audience laughed their ass off (including me :)… The show, however, continues, the audience’s reaction is unmistakable, everyone is singing and ubiquitous applause is heard. Blackmore’s Night, as a band that is a fusion of Renaissance, folk and rock music, is a really great combination in the best possible release. Subsequent songs delight with virtuosity, spontaneity and you can hear that they are flowing straight from the heart … and on which concert of Renaissance music can you hear a rock solo on drums ?? Bravo to David Keith …
I did not miss the pleasure of seeing the master „on his knees”. At the moment when everyone (including me) rushed towards the stage, Ritchie went to the edge of the stage, landed on his knees with his guitar and flew away … a beautiful view, with a picture in front of you like the concert tapes you saw while being a child … as in the days of Deep Purple or Rainbow. This man is still 30 years old …
As the last concert of the tour, Ritchie allowed himself a lot, the mood was fenomenal, his children were present in the first row to whom he smiled after every moment, and he himself shook hands with people (including me :) The glorious family aura was everywhere. I really imagined this concert completely different from the technical side – I was expecting balustrades and dams. It turned out that you can just go to your idol and say „high five”.
Rainbow 20 April 2018 (Prague, Czech Republic)
Being at the aforementioned magical concert of Blackmore’s Night in Leipzig, I was deeply rooted in Paul Glass’s words. He told me that his first concert of Rainbow which he was present at was 43 years ago in 1976 … 43 years ago I thought – well, I was not even borned then … He told me that the concert had a huge impact on him, and talent and the artistry of Ritchie Blackmore literally knocked him off his feet. He also said that being a happy participant in the concerts of the „reborn” Rainbow, Ritchie’s playing style and his technique and charisma is exactly the same as it was 43 years ago …
Here I am, Prague, the Czech Republic and my first Rainbow concert. Imagine the state of my spirit, it was a dream literally impossible to achieve. Ritchie, after all, definitely suspended the band in 1997 after the tour of the album „Stranger in Us All” and he started to implement his true musical vocation – „Blackmore`s Night”. Totally nothing indicated the return of the „king to the old castle”. The first sounds of „Land of Hope and Glory”, the old British patriotic song in the version of the new Rainbow, started. Soon after, we hear the soundtrack straight from „The Wizard of Oz”, meaning the famous „Over the Rainbow” song. Ritchie enters and immediately walks to the edge of the stage and greets the gathered crowd of fans in the Prague O2 Arena. The drums of David Keith are starting, then enters hammond (Jens Johansson), bass (Bob Nouveau) and Ritchie virtuosically playing slide. Now I’m just waiting for „Spotlight Kid” … and there is a riff, the emotions are reaching the zenith, and tears of happiness on the cheeks … All instruments come in, the sound system is working at full speed, and Ronnie Romero emerges from the right side of the stage – new, young , amazing singer of the reborn Rainbow. This guy is like Dio, Bonnet, Gillan and Coverdale put together. Rainbow is currently playing not only their greatest hits, now they can play whatever they want literally from the entire discography, and also “goldies” from Deep Purple.
The graphics displayed behind the band’s back are giving a fenomenal touch and atmosphere, for example the theme from the album „Straight Between The Eyes” with a characteristic guitar fret passing between the „astonished” eyes of a mysterious face or the mysterious black knight’s castle straight from the first album of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Full speed, „I Surrender” is the second song with a great feel and solo on it. In order to calm down the audience, „The Temple Of The King” was served, it was the debut of the tour so practically the whole song was sang by the audience without Ronnie… There was, of course, „Man On The Silver Mountain” with the smuggled theme of „Woman From Tokyo” (Deep Puple), „Street Of Dreams” – played with great version for the first time since 1997. Then came the classics in the form of the powerful „Perfect Strangers” of the eternal „Black (K) Night”, daringly performed „Mistreated” and instrumental „Difficult To Cure” – with solos by Jens Johansson and Bob Nouveau… and I tell you, the gentlemans really can play .. .
Now there is a moment of reflection, delicious Ritchie’s solos and Ronnie Romero’s scream in 'Child In Time’. The powerful „Stargazer” is rolling through the arena, literally crushing participants of the event and slowly communicating the finale of the concert. The „Long Live Rock And Roll” anthem sung together, turns into an immortal „Smoke On The Water” and the encore of course – „Burn”.
I can confidently admit that the charisma and unique style of Ritchie Blackmore has not changed a bit. Still, each riff or solo is incredibly magnetized with feelings – you can feel it on your own skin.
As they say, „what is good ends quickly”. Fact, the whole concert flew to me in the blink of an eye, but on the other hand „only moments are beautiful in life” and I’m glad that I managed to spend this „moment” on fulfilling one of my greatest musical dreams – seeing „Blackmores Night” and „Rainbow” live. I have always said that the balance must be maintained in music … the mystical, acoustic sounds of BLACKMORE`S NIGHT perfectly harmonize and oppose the strong, aggressive, melodious sounds of RAINBOW. Balance is therefore preserved.