Blackmores Night – UK Tour 2011

Birmingham 5th October, 2011

Mark, my “Ritchie Gig” partner of over 30 years had just been taken into hospital so I was fed-up and on my own, and then…  Ritchie played a blinder and the world was set to rights.
Blackmores Night liveThe gig coincided with Ritchie and Candice’s 3rd wedding anniversary, so would that put him in a good mood for the gig?  Oh yes it did!  Ritchie was on top notch form pulling out all the stops and giving us a fantastic performance.   I haven’t seen him enjoy a gig this much since… errm, well, ever.  I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a “Blackers” gig so much either.
The band have managed to avoid the “which guitar will he pickup next” syndrome by plonking the Strat section in the middle of the performance shortly after one of the keyboard solos.  Ritchie played the Strat on two numbers but oh boy did he play, the solo went on and on and on and was wonderful.  As far as I was concerned this was pure heaven.  Also the acoustic solos he performed later on during Fires at Midnight and er, another song (I don’t know the repertoire, sorry)  were equal gems – Ritchie has the ability to surprise with his choice of notes and unique phrasing with odd flourishes and those fast arpeggios that he has been playing ever since the Purple days.    More more!
There was the usual witty banter between Ritchie and Candice – they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves and have now built up a good list of songs over the 15 years of the band, along with some new material from the Autumn Sky album, which means Ritchie can choose tracks mostly on a whim (or so it seemed) and to suit his mood.  Autumn herself made a brief appearance before and during the gig with lots of suitable “aaahhhs” from the audience.  Time went by and they played right up until the curfew at 11pm stopping very briefly for the encore.  A  guy came on stage  with a big clock showing that time was indeed up, which led to Ritchie and Candice dragging some people up on stage for a jig (Ritchie danced a jig, yes) before disappearing back stage for the final time.
Could I complain about anything?  Well, I guess it was a bit strange having a “metal” style drum solo, however the guy did superb job  – it was the most “Rainbow” part of the whole evening, a rock drum solo at a Blackmore’s Night gig, very strange.  Also the highly obsessive German fans trying to get backstage passes was a bit annoying.
I think this has been said before but….  Anyone expecting Ritchie to play rock again… forget it.  He is so clearly happy with his current project why would he do anything else?  For me, after 15 years Blackmores Night has finally come of age, good luck to them and may they continue for many more years to come.
John Blackburn

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