Two nice shots from Saturday, showing the minimalist stage and Blackmore looking almost like he did in the 1980s for a moment. Thanks to Paul Richards. Simon’s review next post below. More comments and news on the Rainbow review page. More reviews under the Sun still shining post too.
….as someone said on the radio this morning. Well yes, but we’re all still downright miserable at DTB HQ, so here’s a photo of a rainbow to cheer us up. A little less costly to set up and run than the one in 76 perhaps but quite effective. Don’t forget to send us your thoughts after the show on the special review page. Taken by Tonny Steenhagen.
Being interested in architectural history and such I was interested to hear that English Heritage (or whatever they’ve been renamed this week) are involved in a work which looks at the architecture of Liverpool’s music venues. I was even more surprised when one of the researchers got in touch about my infamous 1977 shots of Blackmore up in one of the Royal Empire Theatre’s boxes, trashing his Strat against the ornate plasterwork, saying they would love to feature this in the book.
The thought of seeing Blackmore in a University text book really amused me, so I rescanned the prints (you can even see the fixer stains from the darkroom in the top right!) and sent them over. Rather than ask for a fee, I settled on a review copy of the book, so will let you know what it’s like.
I only had time to fire off a couple of frames (these days you’d stick the burst mode on and run until the battery went flat!) and there is shot on the DPAS archive site, but not sure I’ve posted this one before. As a result of this stunt, Blackmore was banned from the venue and all others owned by the chain, a ban I’m not sure has ever been lifted.
Anyway, no such worries if he wants to get a bit carried away at the NEC, I think quite a few of us would give him a hand.
So, was this just a Happy Shopper version of Rainbow, or something more substantial? Well there’s only one man who knows the answer, and he was keeping very quiet on Saturday night, saying just two words to the 10,000+ sold out NEC crowd, and that was merely to announce the name of his singer. Which was fitting really, as without him this version of Rainbow would certainly have been an awful lot less entertaining.
And from what I could see the audience took to him fairly quickly and were really up for it from the reworked version of Highway Star onwards; how much of this fervour was a determination to enjoy it or simply relief to have the man back playing rock again is hard to say, but there was something very comforting being in a crowd who knew all the words to all the songs (Spotlight Kid aside possibly!). You forget how much shared experience there is in following a guy like this, and it’s nice to be reminded of it sometimes.
I deliberately steered clear of online video and audio clips so not to pre-judge the show (or lower my expectations any further!), and from what people were saying, the vibe was far from positive so I’m glad I did. An inside gig is a very different beast to outdoor festival slots, and I’m glad we opted for this – and that Rainbow decided to do it instead of a UK festival (look what was happening down the road at Glastonbury).
We had quite a relaxing drive down, neither of us wanted to discuss the show much I guess. We took the A roads as the rain was so heavy up our end, gave our lunch money to the nice people at Cromford Mill’s café and were getting lost in the poorly signed NEC road maze before we knew it. A couple of hours passed quietly at the hotel where our friend Dave Browne was booked in so he could nervously watch his home team in the Euros (sorry David) and this kept us occupied until it was time to saunter over to the Arena, having a quick word on the way with Jerry Bloom who was worryingly walking away from the venue, perhaps having been turned back for wearing a Tommy Bolin t-shirt (!), before meeting up with more old-timers in the foyer to natter until show time.
Rereading these thoughts now before posting on Monday morning, the whole event seems almost like something from a dream. Even as the lights dimmed, and into the concert itself, at times it just did not seem real at all. Twenty years wiped out as if they’d never happened, Rainbow back for another tour (feelings were running especially high at the time of Stranger In Us All, so I gave that one a miss. I’d followed him live every tour since 1971 up to that point…)
As the reality broke through, it was time to try and take stock. Certainly this was a Ritchie Blackmore in his seventies rather than in The Seventies. There is no getting away from the fact that some of the fluidity and speed isn’t there, and the occasional mis-fire could be heard, but he was still very much recognisable as our Ritchie Blackmore, one out on his own. He didn’t disgrace his legacy and worked with the restrictions time and age have imposed upon him rather than attempting anything too tricksy. And it was just so good to see and hear him with a Strat again.
If I did wonder during the odd moment why he’s been noodling away on a flipping hurdy gurdy for twenty years, then he must have his reasons. Whatever they were it was good to have the rock Ritchie Blackmore back, if only for a couple of hours.
There too is little hiding the fact that this was primarily a pension fund operation. By excluding any big names, the outlay could be minimised and the revenue maximised. With tickets and merchandise, he should have done well out of it and good luck to him on that level. It is a perfectly valid exercise; he has something a lot of fans wanted to see again and as it sold out in minutes then clearly there were more than enough of us ready to shell out our £55 squids plus expenses (£16.75 for a beefburger at the hotel if you were wondering. An extra quid if we’d wanted it in a bun!). But in turning up with scratch band and putting it on at the NEC you are in effect saying ‘this is a big deal’, and as such the audience deserved to be treated with some respect. And whatever the long and protracted backstory to these shows, I didn’t feel patronised from the stage at any point.
Given the apparent eventual lack of ambition for the return of Rainbow, I’d fought against getting caught up in it all right until two weeks ago, but I suppose curiosity got the better of me. That and perhaps the idea that by going I could close the circle on following Rainbow – sometimes avidly (I did around half the UK shows on the first couple of tours) – across 40 often turbulent years. I did try one Blackmore’s Night show a decade or so ago to see if I was missing something, but if anything it was even worse than the records, so I hadn’t ever planned or expected to see Blackmore live on stage again, content to live with the memories of those often glorious early concerts.
But then I had also vowed never to bother paying to attend a stadium rock show again, so come Saturday evening I was already eating my words before we even got inside!
I’ll leave set lists to others, it certainly didn’t deviate much from those in Germany, but Rainbow did more than enough to please just about everyone. Sure the band are not top flight, and are hardly a proper band, but the singer coped with most of the material, arguably best on the Ronnie Dio era tracks. He isn’t Ronnie, nobody could be, but there was a lot of power there and he didn’t hold back. His was always going to be an interpretation, Ronnie helped bring those tracks to life so they were personal, but this new guy delivered and I doubt he had any voice left to order breakfast on Sunday morning.
The vocals were also high in the mix to cut through a sometimes turgid NEC and stage sound, and were balanced against the guitar, which also got pushed up so we could all hear of what was going on. Blackmore then certainly wasn’t hiding or holding back, and while the playing wasn’t as spine tingling as it could be twenty years ago, it was mostly interesting and enjoyable. Overall his performance was very much a greatest hits sort of approach, little of the voyages off piste we used to enjoy so much perhaps, but more laying down a marker as if to decide whether this was something worth taking further in future or not.
He has said he wouldn’t want to do an album, but then he he has changed his mind in the past, and to give this much longevity it would need more commitment. I’m sure there are other markets to take the Rainbow experience to should he feel the need, enough to keep this version of the band rolling as a comfortable retirement project for a few years at least, if his arthritis doesn’t prevent it. Rarely has the line “I feel I’m getting older…” seemed more poignant than it did here, Ritchie doing the track perched on a barstool with an acoustic.
And then, two thirds of the way through a show I’d been enjoying for what it was, out of nowhere came a sledgehammer version of Stargazer which showed what could be achieved. It slammed into the crowd with an intensity and drive which I really hadn’t seen coming and was as blissful a few minutes at a rock show as I’ve had for ages. It reminded me of full-on Killing Joke or Ministry at their peak, and all at once you think, if they wanted to come back another time and do the full Rising album for us like this then you might just tap us for another couple of tickets. For me this alone was worth the price of admission and made me glad I’d bothered. If not, and he decides this is it, then it closed the Rainbow story for me on a good note. A few questions remain.
Will I bother to buy the inevitable CD / DVD (I didn’t see any cameras at the NEC show but the German gigs were apparently filmed as well as taped – though I doubt they were better)? Probably not. Like that dull Gillan’s Inn CD from a few years back, why would I not want to put on the best versions to listen to?
Would I go again if they do more greatest hits shows next year (as has been mooted)? I honestly doubt that with this band and the level of ability on show they would get much better, so I’ll be happy to leave it there.
Will the person operating the electric rainbow be able to get it right? It was funny to see even 40 years on that technology can still go wrong, with the timing and sequencing leaving gaps in the effects (which were pretty good) from time to time. Unless it was a subtle tribute to all those thousands of 1970s lightbulbs!
Joking aside, Stargazer and other moments during the evening (a very hard edged and riffy Burn springs to mind as I write) reminded me why we all put up with his antics over those years, and for all the sublime guitar work he has delivered across his career, a heartfelt thanks. In the hard rock arena no one has ever really come close. My life wouldn’t have been the same without it, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that…
We would like to thank Rob and Martin for giving us first refusal on spare tickets. It was also great to meet up with them and a number of the old crew. Mike, Dave, Andy, Russ and others helped relieve the inevitable pre-concert tension many of us felt as we tried try to work out just why we were there!
I have added a separate page for all the reviews and everything Rainbow show related. This has early comments on the first show, etc. There is a set spoiler too BUT I have buried this at the end of the page, so you will not stumble on it by accident!
As some will know Deep Purple had to pull a couple of shows in Scandinavia this week, and the vague reasons were given as unspecified illness. As no more details were forthcoming right away, there has inevitably been a lot of speculation, but Ian Paice has now issued a public statement which we reprint in full:
JUNE 16, 2016
To all the people who were expecting to see Deep Purple in Sweden and Denmark this week I would like to let you know the reason the shows were not possible, and also to stop all the speculation and rumours.
On the morning of the 14th of June I woke up to find that the right side of my body was feeling numb and I could not control my right hand and fingers.
So I had myself admitted to hospital where I was diagnosed with having suffered a “mini stroke”, or TIA. The hospital staff in Stockholm were amazing and started my treatment straight away.
After both CT and MIR scans there was found to be no serious or permanent damage. As of this moment all I am suffering is a slightly numb right side of the face a tingling sensation in my right hand. My dexterity in the hand is coming back quickly and I fully expect to re commence touring next month.
So now I have a set of tablets which have to be taken every day to ensure it doesn’t happen again!
So sorry for not being able to play for you.
And I’m sorry for myself!
These are the first shows I have missed with DP since its formation in 1968.
Thanks to all the people who have shown concern and sent their best wishes.
The first missed gigs since 1968. Quite an astonishing record. So, we will overlook the absence just this once young Mr. Paice, but if it happens again you’ll be up before the head. Now get along with you, and no running in the corridor either.
Update : JUNE 17, 2016
Ian has gone online to thank people for their thoughts:
“A big thank you to all the people who have been in touch with me expressing their concern about my health.
I think you will appreciate that there have been too many to answer every one personally.
So if I don’t reply to you please accept my apologies, but there are only so many hours in a day!
Also my one typing finger is having its own “event” and is starting to get very sore.
I knew I had a lot of friends around the world but never realised quite how many.
Again thanks to you all and I will endeavour to keep you up to date with my progress which so far is great.
The countdown has begun for the Rainbow gig (so much for those of us who confidently predicted another show would be added!) and people are starting to get twitchy. Especially those greedy sods who bought tickets to speculate with and didn’t get their inflated asking prices. They are now trying to offload through official reseller sites, and we’re told some folk have been getting them at close to face value. In the meantime, here’s a heart felt plea spotted in a Leeds paper by Tim Summers…
As Tim says, the old ones are the best ones!
I was just having a chuckle reading about a set of coloured vinyl reissues Tesco had pressed for Father’s Day, thinking who would be daft enough, when HMV announce their own set for an in-store Vinyl Week (June 13-19). It includes this rather pretty gray marbled vinyl edition of In Rock, which takes me back to the late 70s when everyone was chasing the coloured vinyl pressings coming out all over the place. So now I am conflicted. On one hand I already have 25 or so copies of In Rock on vinyl, but on the other this does look rather groovy, though it is a shame the people doing it didn’t think to blend the label colours to match as well.
Still at least HMV are a music store and don’t sell cut-price groceries. Anyway there are 1,000 copies up for grabs so don’t leave it long if you’re tempted. Sheffield has two HMV stores, so I might get lucky. If not, there is a remastered Blu Ray of The Third Man I’ve been tempted by for some time… Thanks to Tim Summers for flagging this up.
It’s weird, I was only discussing some rare sleeves with another fan last week. He had turned up a rare Colombian pressed single and was wondering if it was real. “Who on earth would want to pirate old Deep Purple records?” I replied confidently.
Well Mark Maddock just emailed me examples of someone doing a very similar trick, so be very careful if you’re a keen sleeve collector. These four examples, all up for sale right now on the web, are fake. They purport to be radio station album promos, in unique covers. If they were then they would indeed be remarkable; mint sleeves over 40 years old, never documented before. In fact the covers are complete fakes, and they are just sticking regular Mexican pressings of the albums inside!
I checked up and the radio station named on the cover actually exists, but is so tiny they would never have done such promos, and don’t seem even to have existed then. Plus the typography employs digital tricks which were simply not possible back in the Seventies.
Further digging showed the people responsible are cranking these out for lots of groups beside Deep Purple. So, worth a few bucks if you collect pirate pressings, but at this price hopefully people can get the word out before too many fans get scammed. And as always, well done ebay for allowing this sort of thing to flourish.
Mind you, it might just be some crafty Mexicans trying to destabilise the American economy in revenge for Trump!
I wasn’t overly impressed by the recent version of the Rainbow Donington material – the audio was still incomplete and the video we’d been sold before. Even so I was surprised to learn that they’d hacked out TEN MINUTES of surviving material to get it onto a single CD for the European edition, but left it intact for the Japanese edition which is a 2CD set. It’s quite depressing that labels are still taking the piss like this. Anyhow, Tim Summers bided his time and splashed out on a Japanese import, so can clue us in on what we might expect when Universal decide to do an even more super remastered edition for us to cough up for next year….
The Difficult To Cure to Lost In Hollywood section lasts a good four minutes longer thanks mainly to Don Airey’s solo; Ritchie’s blues is over half a minute longer, Lazy gains a few seconds, but most crucially they’ve included the Kill the King instrumental and LLRnR reprise which is another five minutes plus. And for those who like to recall the opening of the show, the Pomp & Circumstance intro is there as well.
Packaging wise the Japanese edition just repeats the lack-lustre European art and booklet, adding only the obligatory Japanese translation to this.I’m not sure if we mentioned this before but when I met Steve Wright, the writer of the Bonnet biography, a while back he says Graham recalls going to a screening of the full Donington show with others from the band and having a two disc vinyl acetate of the full show, a copy of which was given to all the band (Graham has lost his!). The woman who used to manage him was quite close to sourcing the full footage a few years ago, but when she moved on the thread lapsed. There is a well founded story which says the bass was not properly hooked up for the recording of the show and Roger had to add this later in the studio.
Tons of bootleg footage from Purple’s recent Japanese shows turning up on well-known video posting sites this week (and lots of nice posters and flyers on the auction sites too!). Steve Morse impressive with set-opener Highway Star on the one I watched. Apparently Woman From Tokyo was in the set at the start of the tour, but seemed to vanish. Some of the clips are so perfect, and showed none of the audience, that they looked like rehearsals! IG’s comments about being so rudely non-interrupted at the end of one very dry run through of Demon’s Eye sort of explains all.
The bulk of the sets were as follows (and I’m not sure we even need to say ‘set spoiler’ at this stage of the game!) : Highway Star / Bloodsucker / Hard Lovin’ Man / Strange Kind of Woman / Woman From Tokyo / Vincent Price / Contact Lost / Uncommon Man / The Well-Dressed Guitar / The Mule / Lazy / Demon’s Eye / Hell to Pay / Keyboard Solo / Perfect Strangers / Space Truckin’ / Smoke On The Water / encores – Green Onions, Hush, Black Night
So three tracks off the current album, the usual suspects and no new material, which given the level of video postings (many made easier by the large projection screens at the back of the stage) you can sort of begin to understand a bit. Thanks to Rob for the flyer and to Tim Summers.