European Tour 1996 Reviews
Vosselaar, Belgium 28 July 1996Rainbow were playing in Belgium, sunday 28th of July, in a small concerthall just near a graveyard (Ritchie's idea?). After the opening act (didn't catch the name of the band), a technical problem made the show begin at 10 o'clock pm. The audience was angry, the stage, looking at his musicians... Couldn't believe my eyes! And he played incredibly good. but luckily no one threw somthing at Ritchies head...
TMiB was in very good mood, smiling (!!!), talking to someone in the audience, moving through If someone has recorded the show, please send the tape to Gillan... :-) (and e-mail me too!) He looked more like an human being than the usual black shadow haunting the stage. What happened with him? :-)
The setlist was a little bit different than in 95:
If Rainbow come to your country, don't hesitate: Ritchie's born again!
Vosselaar, Belgium 28 July 1996This was the first time I saw Ritchie Blackmore as a living, three dimensional person. This important happening was of course preceded by the usual support act. This was a reasonably good, modern heavy metal band with a deafening guitarist. They all didn't have many hair on their heads, except for the singer, who wore a Coverdale kind of hairdo. I think the band's name was "Dank Je Wel" (dutch for: "Thank You"). After their performance we were treated to tapes with music from REM. How interesting these songs are! I should occupy myself more with them.
Then at last, Mr.Blackmore and his crew arrived on stage. The show started approximately three quarters of an our later than was expected, but I read this wasn't quite unusual for our stratman. The Black Widow(er) looked happy and well in his medievallish clothes. I noticed that the sound of Rainbow was less heavy than Dank Je Well made, which was a little strange. I think a support group should make less noice than the group they are supporting, for one's ears are getting easier used to a bigger than to a smaller sound. The concert didn't start this time with "Spotlight Kid". I wasn't quite disappointed by this, because this is a JLT song and in my opinion Joe Lynn stuff should only be sung by Joe Lynn (although he didn't write this one). I don't feel so in the opposite case. No, I gladly hear Joe sing things from Gillan and Dio for example. Turner has a kind of personal radiation that is irreplaceable. Although it would be lovely to hear Ritchie play some things again from for example "Slaves And Masters", I am not waiting for Doogie White versions of let's say: "Tearing Out My Heart", "King Of Dreams" and certainly not "Truth Hurts", a song that tells everything about Joe's fragile poetical mind. Doogie is a technically fine singer, but he misses the imagination of his predecessor, the sheer pathos and morbid sensitivity of this brilliant vocal actor. Yes, Doogie has fine moments, take for example his heart breaking screams in the middle part of "Ariel", answering to Candice's repeated titel word (she could do more with it). This is the proof that he could become a real dramatic performer.
To come to Blackmore: Ritchie played a lot rawer than in the Düsseldorf video. Although he made lovely improvisations there, for example in that sweet, melancholic melody he used as an intro to "Smoke On the Water" (he also played this now as an intro to "Ariel"), his guitar tone was to my ears too much High Tech, too sophisticated. I was now particularly impressed by his whole approach of "Mistreated". It was a kind of mixture between his DP versions and his more Spanish sounding Rainbow performances. Still it was rawer, a bit more earthy than I remembered of his Purple playing. I was very moved by its heavy masculine eroticism. When I heard it later on tape (at least three quarters of a year), I still was more impressed by its drama.
I can imagine that many people are waiting for "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll". However, I can do without. I only really liked it when Joe and Ritchie did their bluesy improvisations together. The same goes a litle for "Difficult To Cure". I always am impressed by the threatening middle-eastern sounds he makes at the beginning. But, I certainly wouldn't be missing the part when Blackmore starts playing "Alle Menschen Werden Brüder". I liked the original version of the 9th symphony better. Sorry, Ritchie! However, this cannot be said of "Vielleicht Das Nächste Mal" (You know, in english this is called: "Maybe Next Time"). I was really moved by his severe sounding approach of this instrumental song. He is playing this highly sentimental melody a lot more decently than in the early days. He now uses less vaguely intoned portamenti - which formed in my mind a picture of a moonlit roof full with tomcats on heat (I like cats very much though). I certainly like Ritchie's portamenti, when they are used tastefully. They give a certain feeling to his playing: horny (in the right way) and fool of pathos.
"Temple Of The King" is a treat in these recent tours. I don't understand why he didn't play this romantic, folk-like song earlier in his career. His playing here is very introspective, but not lacking in feeling and drama. His solo was sweet and dark, with a lovely progressing melody.
"Black Masquerade' was far more interesting than on the record. Ritchie played there a nice, short acoustic solo, but it could have been more. Here was his Flamenco-like playing a lot longer and more daring. However, an acoustic approach would be interesting too (or a combined version). But, his heavy metal was most convincing.
"Perfect Strangers" wasn't bad at all, but Paul Morris didn't play his part very interestingly. It's good trying to do other things than Jon Lord, but this wasn't very useful. This brings me to something else: Greg, Paul and Chuck are reasonably good musicians, but add very little of there own to the music and the group. Greg Smith sounded freer and more involved as a bassist on the recent JLT solo record (+ concerts) than with Ritchie. His singing is here more interesting than his bass playing. He has a very good tenor voice, with a very big range in the higher register. Singing together with Doogie they sound a bit like Barry Hay and George Kooymans (the leadsinger and leadguitarist/singer of our Dutch band Golden Earring), although George has a high voice and Barry's instrument is somewhat lower. Like them, and unlike David and Glenn, they form a real unity, especially because they both have high voices. However, I still don't understand why Greg is wanting to sound like Glenn Hughes. I think he tries more to sound like Glenn than Doogie imitates Joe Lynn Turner (he did so on the studio album) + Ronnie James Dio. However White's approach of "Man On The Silver Mountain" was too Dio-like. It made him sound a little ridiculous, making those "important" sounding exclamations.
Unlike I read in some review written by women, I saw enough persons of my own sex (yes, of course, men are always in the majority at most rock concerts). I saw some people I met at the Belgian Purple fanclubconvention, like: Johan van Ryckeghem, Ron Leder and some more, like a gentleman - whose name I won't mention here - who drove me to my hotel (also some reasonably intrusive ones, with only one thing in their mind when they see a woman). But, it was a very polite audience. When I wanted to stand in front, they let me. I even could to go to the bathroom (when I was waiting for Rainbow) and get quietly back to my place at the right. This is a miracle, because when you are slightly build, you are easily pushed aside.
I noticed that Blackmore is a very shy person (of course I knew that already from all the videos I saw). He kept his eyes closed a big part of the time to be not distracted by the things and people around him. He flushes very easily when he gets excited by something, especially around his eyes. However, when Ritchie started playing his bass at the end of the concert, I caught his attention for some reason, when he stood right before me. For a couple of minutes he looked me straight and fixed into my eyes. Because of this, I think, I made some movements with my hands and arms (which I shall joking call "magical"). After the concert I talked to the band members in the bar across the road. Especially Chuck and Gregg are very friendly boys. Chuck put (as a kind of joke) a autograph with hearts on my arm, which I lost the morning after; guilty of that was the Turnhoutian hotel water. Later I asked him how it is to be working with Blackmore again. He answered to this that he liked Ritchie's company very much, especially because he never raises his voice. Greg and I joked a little around. Maybe he was a little drunk, because when I asked where Mr. Blackmore was it was reasonable, I think, that I wanted to speak to Ritchie also, because I already spoke to them all), he answered something like: "I thought you wanted to kiss me, but now I hear: 'Where is Ritchie'". After this exciting and interesting experience I only can say that I hope to see and hear Ritchie Blackmore play again somewhere.
Oslo, Norway 6 August 1996Venue:
Sentrum Scene, a former cinema, now the greatest concert venue in Oslo. Can take 1500, but this night around 1000 showed up.
Average age about 30 more or less, long hair, dark clothes, lots of old Rainbow and Deep Purple t-shirts, 80% males. A bit leaned back during the first five minutes, but from then on, Lost in Hollywood.
(As close to the original running order as I could remember when I came home, all songs should be there, though)
Ritchie didn't seem to have his best day, spent 1/3rd of the concert with his back to the crowd. Never smiled, at least not when we could see his face. Still played very good, but probably cut some songs and solos short from time to time. He loosend a bit more as the crowd kept going wild during the set, and didn't stop playing, but kept on riffing away when the rest of the band started to end Smoke.
Mr. White sang very good again, and got the crowd going all the time. Did a lot of funny little, sometimes stupid, gags, but always smiled and laughed it away. Where never closer that 2 meters to Blackmore.
Paul Morris played exactly the same keyboard solo as he did 10 months ago, he is clearly the weakest keyboard player In Rainbow ever.
Greg Smith, again did a great job on the bass. His solo was good, and he played very well together with drummer
Folkets Park, Lidköping, Sweden 9 August 1996
I decided the day before the show that I would actually go. Dennis said he had put me on the guest list so that made me decide it was worth the 220 km trip. My expectations were low after having seen the gig in Stockholm last autumn. When we arrived I was a bit taken aback by the venue or what ever it should be called. The place is what we call a Folkets Park. That translates to Peoples Park. You can find one in almost every little town and it's a place where people go dancing and generally getting drunk. This was one of the smallest of it's kind I've seen.
The stage was also small and looked like a very temporary arrangement. I wish I had brought with me a camera because it sure was a sight to see the stage aligned in a 90 degree angle with a building that looked like a garage. And in the park there were lotteries and other "amusements" like throwing darts/arrows at ballons. Not a lot of people had arrived either. Doogie was walking around the place and I wondered what his thoughts were, not to mention what Ritchies reaction would be when confronted with this. Anyway as time got closer to kick off there were maybe a thousand in the crowd.
I was 15 m from the stage and so it started. Ritchie Blackmore on stage, in Lidkoping, 1000 people, on a stage looking like it was built on a truck and with more hair in his face! He now has both a moustache and a small beard. A brief lyric came to mind: Maybe I could be like Robin Hood, like and outlaw dressed all in green... His new stage clothes are in black with halflong sleeves and a look that makes him look like TMFS (The Man From Sherwood).
Sound was good and the setlist was:
Long Live Rock'n'Roll: lots of breaks and stops, singalong, folksongs, jams, etc. Lasted forever.
Mistreated: This was great. Full lenght and a suberb solo not like the quiet one he did before but with very intense and dramatic playing contrasting between high and low octaves. Worth the trip alone.
Greensleeves: "We have a problem with the drums so we'll have to do something while we fix this" said DW. Ritchie instructed him what to do and we got Greensleeves with just the two of them. They did three or four verses and DW made up the words as they went along: The monitors are breaking up... ending with: And now we don't know who'll be fired! Great laughs all around incl. Ritchie.
Wolf To The Moon Then a boring period: Beeth 9 keyb solo: Boring but short
Still I'm Sad Bass+Drumsolo: Boring but rather short
Man On The Silver Mountain
Temple Of The King: One of the highlights as usual. Really great singing and playing.
Ariel: This one is really well done live now. It has matured onstage and has lots of variety to it. Another highlight. Candice was seen in the wings and was presented on stage afterwards. She was dressed like... what's her name? I'm talking of Robin's babe. Well, you know who I mean. So the two of them complemented each other visually on stage. Well, maybe this is next years fashion... ;-) Hope not!
Since You Been Gone: DW sounds like GB
Perfect Strangers: Loses power in the riffing section because lack of decent keyboard sound. Otherwise rather OK.
RB Blues.... full version with lyrics! This was also a surprise and a first for me. I love to hear Ritchie play in this way and we got plenty of it.
Maybe Next Time: Very good choice
Street of Dreams, no solo.
Smoke on the Water Encore
Given the circumstances this was quite enjoyable. RB played very well indeed and he alone was worth the visit. When typing that I realise that there's nothing else in this band that makes it interesting. He now fully carries the band and no one is anywhere near him playingwise. DW I do like for his good singing and genuinely nice character but he hasn't have that aura of authority but it might come with age and experience. RB also have to display a good mood since he just can't leave the stage now and let the others carry on alone. But it looks like he enjoys himself now and he does play very well.
Femøren Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark 11 Aug 1996
Okay, so we all went out to Copenhagen to see what Ritchie's done since I saw him in Stockholm last year. When I saw Rainbow in Stockholm it was the second concert ever with this particular line-up. I got home and wrote a review that was everything but positive. I have been listening to tapes and seen videos of Rainbow since then but I must say that this Copenhagen show was one of the greatest DP-related shows I've seen. I would rank this as high as DP, day 2 in Brixton in march. It sure is evident that Ritchie and the boys have been playing a lot together by now.
Ritchie was in a great mood and played around *a lot* on stage. He made fun of the fact that Paul Morris had a patch over his right eye (anybody know what happened?), he kicked Dougie in the ass, he shouted lyrics to Dougie in LLR'n'R and he went down on his knees in front of the audience to take requests.
The set list was just about the same as on the Oslo gig but with the order of the songs shuffled around a bit and without the "Over The Rainbow" intro. Just before SOTW he started playing Child In Time but when Dougie started singing it Ritchie looked around and launched the SOTW riff instead.
I think the new set list is good but kind of strange. He starts out with a very long version of LLR'n'R with lots of noodling and featuring parts of Hey Joe and Black Night. Then they play a very long version of Mistreated. I would say that this line-up has more in common with the 70's Rainbow than the 80's Rainbow. Lots of soloing and noodling and playing around.