Garry resumes his love affair with Ritchie Blackmore after 35 years
Was it really 35 years ago last week that I arrived at the god awful cowshed Bingley Hall Stafford to see Rainbow on the ‘Difficult To Cure’ tour……I didn’t realise it would take that long before I wandered into a concert venue to see Rainbow again….albeit a very different reincarnation of the band…..but here I am at the Genting Arena in June 2016.
The one thing you would be unwise to do is try to second guess Ritchie Blackmore….when the rumours filtered through that RB was ready to rock it out once more the rumour mill went into overdrive, the popular myth was that it was going to be a world tour with former members returning, my chat with ex singer Joe Lynn Turner last year went down that route and he was convinced he would be the voice of the band with an album to follow…..how wrong could you be!!!!
The only shows for this all new line up of RB’s Rainbow were two shows in Germany and one in the UK at the Genting Arena (or the NEC for us none bowing down to branding types) which was a refreshing change for us in the Midlands to not have to drag ourselves to London for one off shows…..and this was a show we were going to relish.
The intro music that rang round the Arena was ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’ and it was met with a mighty roar before the familiar tune of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ brought the band onstage…..the atmosphere was electric and what an opening track we were subjected too, the setlist was announced as a mix of Rainbow & Deep Purple songs and ‘Highway Star’ was the one to kickstart the evening.
When the line up was announced its fair to say that most would have Googled the name Ronnie Romero to find out exactly who the man was that was handed the microphone duties…..30 seconds into the opening track it was clear to see that RB knew exactly what he was doing…..this guy Ronnie Romero is a an absolute superstar…..what a voice!!!!
The setlist was the kind you would get if you played a game of Deep Purple & Rainbow ‘fantasy setlist’……’Spotlight Kid’, ‘Mistreated’, ‘Since You Been Gone’ & ‘Man On a The Silver Mountain’ were the first five tracks…..all originally sung by five different vocalists…..shrewd move showing how well Ronnie could deal with songs from all the main vocalists that RB had worked with in both Deep Purple & Rainbow so early in the set.
The other members of RB’s Rainbow 2016….Jens Johannsen (Keys) Bob Nouveau (Bass) David Keith (Drums) all had opportunity to show their skills during a lengthy version of ‘Difficult To Cure’ which followed ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ and the incredible ‘Catch The Rainbow’ but even though the three members of the band are wonderfully talented you feel that the crowd before and after the show would have maybe liked to have seen folk like Don Airey or Roger Glover from the previous line ups of the bands grace the stage along with the King of the White Stratocaster.
The opening bars of ‘Child In Time’ were greeted with an almighty roar…..a fantastic track that would test any vocalist worth his salt…..it’s fair to say that Ronnie Romero passed this test with flying colours and maybe even dare I say it….made the song his own such was the brilliance of his vocal performance…..’Long Live Rock ‘n Roll’ followed and then it was ‘THE’ Rainbow track that all had been waiting for….’Stargazer’….a song that 40 years on is still seen by many as one of the top three Rock tracks of all time, and it certainly didn’t disappoint, it was absolutely brilliant.
‘Black Night’ was the final track of the main set and Ronnie had no problem in getting the capacity crowd in Birmingham to join in…..for those of us who had seen the setlist from the German shows we knew that there was just one song left of the night…..but no…..the band returned to the stage to treat us to my personal favourite Deep Purple track ‘Burn’ and what a belting version it was too, this track was on last weeks setlist but for whatever reason wasn’t played…..who cares…..they played it here in Birmingham.
All that was left was the Rock Anthem ‘Smoke On The Water’…..a track that I’ve grown rather bored of on record over the years but seeing it live with RB cranking out that riff you get why it’s such a classic…..and after an almighty sing along from a fabulous crowd….that was it….it was all over!!!
Who knows if it will happen again, a cryptic message from backing vocalist and RB’s wife Candice Knight who wrote about it being the final ‘officially announced’ gig left you wondering if this might not be the end of RB’s venture back to his Rock roots before he fires up the Blackmore’s Knight Renaissance Rollercoaster once again, but if it is…I for one will be extremely proud to say I was here in Birmingham to witness one of Rock’s true legends strap on the White Strat and unleash a mighty back catalogue of Rock classics.
I have to leave one final thought about Ronnie Romero…..this guy has without doubt one of the finest Rock voices I’ve heard in a long while…..lets hope his next appointment catapults him into the Arena filling kind of band that a voice like his deserves……what a find this guy is!!!!
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