Blackmore’s Night – UK Tour June 2013
Wolverhampton and Salisbury.
This tour was to promote the new album, and although Candice promised tracks from it, at Salisbury we had “Troika”, and I think at both we had “Ashgrove” but that was it. The key tracks that formed the set were essentially the same as the previous tour with lots of pauses in-between whilst Ritchie considered what else to play from their now quite extensive repertoire of 8 CD’s stretching over 16 years. Ritchie just didn’t choose much off the new album, not that I’d read too much into that.
The set hinges around 3 main tracks. Candice Night features on “Diamonds and Rust” where she doesn’t so much sing it as act it, and to her credit pulls off a really stunning performance. Ritchie’s two main solos appear in Journeyman, the only song where the Strat is employed, and “Fires at Midnight” which has an extensive workout on the acoustic. Of course for a diehard Blackmore fan like me the Strat solo has particular impact, and he didn’t disappoint, particularly at Wolverhampton where he did a long and glorious solo with the slide in typical Rainbow-esque fashion followed by a very long section which peaked wonderfully with some of his typical old style phrasing. He appeared to be really enjoying it himself too, as did the rest of the band who applauded along with an ecstatic audience for quite some time at the end of the song. Ritchie put on his “shy” mode at this point, donned one of the acoustic guitars and wished for the next song to start ASAP. A similar reception was given at Salisbury leading to Candice saying “well he still knows how to please his fans”.
At Salisbury when Ritchie came to do the solo in “Fires at Midnight” he found his guitar wasn’t working. We then had a few minutes with a scene reminiscent of the very last bit of the California Jam with Ritchie around his amps, playing with cables and generally messing around trying to get the guitar to work. The band kept playing as eventually his guitar tech came on with a spare guitar just as Ritchie discovered he’d accidently thrown a switch on the underside of the guitar itself, and this was the reason for the fault. Finally he sat down on a stool to play and to be honest I was worried that the moment had been lost and he’d struggle to play as good a solo as he did at Wolverhampton. Certainly in Rainbow days if someone even farted at the wrong time he’d be off in a huff. No, Ritchie played the longest and most beautiful solo I’ve heard him play on the acoustic – incorporating a rendition of “Minstrels in the hall” – it was breath-taking. The audience sat in stunned silence until the very end.
Which brings me to a conclusion I didn’t think I’d ever get to; I wouldn’t want to see Ritchie play rock again. If he tried to play a solo like this one it would be washed out with people yelling, clapping and generally being the “rock” audience. They’d ruin it! Also Ritchie is happiest when playing simple folk songs – Barbara Allen, The Drinking Song, Home Again, he loves this kind of thing and has found a great vehicle to play it with this band.
Those of you wanting to see Ritchie play rock again will take little comfort from seeing him in Blackmores Night these days – he appears to be extremely happy and is playing very well indeed. You can easily criticize it as puerile escapism, pantomime or at times rudimentary, I certainly did so for the first 10 years of the bands existence. However I was wrong, this is great music for Ritchie to play at this stage in his career… long may it continue.