Posts Tagged ‘reunion’

Rainbow’s end?

June 19, 2016

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!

*Apparently Ritchie did sing along in Long Live Rock & Roll according to bassist Bob Curiano who posted a photo to prove it! As the band were too mean to pay for screens most of us missed it…

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!

rainbow loreley 2016 copy

London, December 2015

December 15, 2015

It’s a while since we’ve made the trek to London, but as this was the only show we decided to make an effort.  Finding the venue wasn’t too hard and as the drive down was done in good time despite the inclement weather up North we nipped in to the hotel to dump our gear and then set off for the hall. We got there around 3.00pm so decided to park up near the entrance and see what was happening.  Half the fun these days of going to shows is meeting up with other fans and we passed the time chatting and getting the layout of the place.
Round about four thirty we saw Roger and Ian Gillan arrive, and they greeted a few old friends. Ian came by to say hello and we had a quick word with Roger, who had brought his wife and two kids along to enjoy the evening (the youngest certainly has a look of him in his youth!).
Ian said his wife had gone on ahead to their villa in Portugal and he would be joining her after the show. When Ann asked him about the 2016 tour dates he knew nothing about them, but suggested this wasn’t unusual!
Inside we met up with Tim who had travelled down from Hull and Tonny who had made an even longer journey up from Plymouth. Eventually the house lights went down to reveal a brightly lit stage and after a little while Roger Glover sort of ambled on stage to pick up a sunburst Fender bass. We hadn’t expected a support act, and there seemed to be some confusion over what key their first number was in, but after they’d sorted this out the guitarist came to the mic and asked us to put our hands together for … The Madisons.

l-r Roger, Harvey and Tony. The Madisons

l-r Roger, Harvey and Tony. The Madisons

Sat in our corner we all sort of blinked, were we really seeing Roger’s first band live? They did team up about five years ago for a get-together according to Roger so despite the lack of rehearsal tonight (6/- admission guys) they romped through a couple of rock and roll standards (My Baby and Put On Your Red Dress’) with ease and the room responded with applause.  Harvey Shield on drums also handled the vocals and has clearly kept in trim – he lives in America these days, and has even done some acting for US TV.  Tony Barham kept the lead guitar going and seemed as amazed as we all were at what was going on.  As Deep Purple historians know, The Madisons were Roger’s first semi-pro group formed while he was still at school and led on to his first professional outfit.

Episode Six reunion, December 2015

Episode Six reunion, December 2015

After two songs there was a short break, before two more singers found their way on stage, Ian Gillan and Sheila Carter.  It was time for the main event, Episode Six.  While Roger had known about the evening for a while, Ian only realised it was happening the day before, and so rescheduled to be able to get along. Despite this last minuteness, as they launched into I Hear Trumpets Blow he managed to sing the words without a crib sheet, helped out by Sheila. At other times he had to busk it and help on the chorus, and at the end said a few heartfelt words to both the rest of the band and the audience. Considering he’d come off the back of a long Deep Purple tour and of course the big O2 Arena show two night before, it was good of him to juggle his schedule and his appearance was appreciated by everyone.
After a version of Morning Dew based on their single interpretation Ian left the stage and Roger then did Stand By Me with his daughter Gillian, who seems a natural.
We then had chance to see a guy called Pete Reglar. Pete was in at the very start of the Lightnings, working with Sheila and the others under the name Pete Jason and Shandy.  He gamely tackled one of their stage faves, That’ll Be The Day. Incredibly Pete also brought along his old note book into which he kept details of all the songs they did live, and the dates of their shows, and who sang what.
It was now time for a proper break.

Back row Tony, Harvey, Sheila and Ian. Front row Roger and John.

Back row Tony, Harvey, Sheila and Ian. Front row Roger and John.

The reason for the event was to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Episode Six signing their original Pye recording contract, and their first Pye recording session (the single came out early in 1966). It’s not the first time they have met up like this, some will recall photos of an earlier reunion in Kerrang, but being such an important anniversary they decided to make this a bit special, hiring a hall and proper gear. Once that was arranged, they made efforts to track down as many musicians and people connected with the band as they could.
My invite came via the Episode Six CDs we helped collate and put together almost twenty years ago, and which got played to death during the evening.  I have kept in touch with Sheila ever since and offered to provide an intermission slide show, which provided a lot of amusement for the audience. It was funny to see Ian’s reaction to a couple of particularly fey shots of him wearing just an open waistcoat and beads.  We’d put the show together from our archives, with Tonny also supplying some interesting new images from a fans collection he picked up not long ago.

The audience watch the intermission entertainment

The audience watch the intermission entertainment

There was even a bit of film; Tony (he was known as Tony Lander while in the band) had managed to dig out the super 8mm silent film from the old Deep Purple family tree show, and we also had the Beat Beat Beat footage courtesy of Dave Browne.  Although these are familiar to some fans, many in the audience were watching them for the first time. The band’s second guitarist Graham Carter (Sheila’s brother) now lives in America and couldn’t get across, but using skype he was able to see the hall and chat with the rest of the band.
Also there and enjoying it all was the band’s second drummer, John Kerrison. Although he couldn’t take part, he was pleased to be part of the occasion and it was good to meet up with him after so many years corresponding by email.

The grand finale (pic Tonny Steenhagen)

The grand finale (pic Tonny Steenhagen)

Tonny had the bright idea of getting all the band musicians together for an impromptu photo call and Sheila rounded everyone up.  It was really funny to see what was a quite laid back and relaxed event suddenly turn into a mad frenzy of cameras, iPads and mobile phones as dozens of people made sure they got a souvenir image.
We made sure to spend some time going through all the photos and memorabilia which Sheila had collated, and admiring some wall panels full of new shots she has unearthed. We did discuss the idea of a limited production book of some sort in the new year.
Amazingly Sheila had managed to dig out her original WEM Telstar electric organ which was positioned in pride of place in front of the stage. She told me years ago that it was somewhere in the back of her garage, so it was great to see it has survived. Whether it can be got back to working condition is something we’ll have to see.
Eventually, despite the excellent running buffet, our energy levels began to flag. I’d been up until midnight the previous evening trying to sort glitches in the slide show (the software crashed after two hours processing!) and our friend Tim needed to get his transport connection, so we made our farewells. The musicians were made of stronger stuff and were persuaded back up for another short set towards the end of the evening. Tonny had also stayed put and can fill us in on the close of the evening; “Harvey turned ceremony master of sorts and various permutations of the musicians ended up running through some songs like Red House, sung by Gillian, Summertime by a young Claudia, Great Balls of Fire sung by Harvey, Roger singing ‘Too Much Monkey Business’, etc. They did about another half an hour.”
We would like to say a big thanks to Sheila and Tony for inviting us, and hello to Tom Joseph and Tonny Steenhagen for braving public transport to get there.  The band have decided to open their own Facebook page to mark the occasion and act as a sort of gathering place for themselves and fans. This can be found here. The idea is to add a list of tour dates and material from their archives, and a new CD collection has also been set in motion about which more anon. Once the slide show from the event has had an audio track added it will also be uploaded to view.
Some people attending did take video enabled kit and I’m sure some of this will end up on the web (if it hasn’t already!). [I apologise that this has taken me a while to post but I stayed on in London for a couple of days of meetings (about which more anon) and when I got back had to clear a very full in-tray then get my print exhibition finished and hung at a local gallery…]

Re-Live Rock n Roll?

November 7, 2014

The silly season for news is well and truly over (and let’s face it how can anyone top the Daily Mail story that “loom bands cause cancer”?). But things move a little more slowly in DTB land, so we might as well bring you this year’s Rainbow 2 Reform story.
As best we can figure things out, Ritchie Blackmore has had itchy Stratocaster fingers for a while now. He first sounded out members of the current Deep Purple over a year ago, suggesting a last get together for a few mega Mk 2 shows. Agreement was difficult to reach, not least because of how on earth could DP carry on after doing that?
So it was on to Mr. Coverdale, the idea of working together again with a nod to Mk 3 days gaining some momentum before also coming off the rails when Coverdale decided he’d rather do other things.
From there we move on to widely reported comments from Joe Lynn Turner in a recent interview given to a Greek rock journalist, which sounded fairly optimistic on his part.

“Well, I’m gonna be honest with you, right now. Yes! Possibly. It’s very possible. Last year, I wouldn’t say it. But this year I say it. It’s possible. It’s a very big possibility that something might, just might, happen. I heard talk and all I can say is that I’m not supposed to talk about it, but I’m talking to you now, and all I want you to say is yes. It’s a very big possibility that we may have a reunion. It will be phenomenal.”

And while some who have seen the story are determined to resist I’m willing to bet a lot of us would weaken. You can read the full interview and story on the Rock Overdose website:

http://www.rockoverdose.gr/news_details.php?id=33177

A diver investigating the remains of the rainbow lighting rig yesterday.

A diver investigating the remains of the rainbow lighting rig yesterday.

Live In Melbourne er Sydney 1984

August 12, 2013

Deep Purple Perfect Strangers live Melbourne 1984UPDATE – The live 1984 DVD reported earlier is from one of the three nights at Sydney and NOT Melbourne as the sales sheets claim. As well as the main format DVD, there are CD and vinyl editions, but both are limited.  Full track listing and details on DTB under Perfect Strangers Live.  It’s due out in October.  Our first report of the release is below.  Formats available to pre-order at DTB Online store.

1984 and all that

July 26, 2013

sept84aThe news that a DVD release of one of the Australian shows from the early days of the reunion is being worked on has got people chatting. It all seems a very long time ago now, but DTB readers may recall the excitement of those first reports (written on paper and posted airmail!) from the very start of the Perfect Strangers World Tour in late 1984.  The feeling remains that the band decided to kick off down-under so if it all went horribly wrong, they would have plenty of opportunity to sort things out before moving over to the critical North American markets.  Despite a few mis-cues and the like (plus Ian Gillan losing his clothes and some riots outside a show – the two events not connected!) it all panned out pretty well. The shows began there in late November, moved across to New Zealand in December, and then back to Australia. It was all fairly quickly arranged, and (amazing in this day and age) tickets only went on sale about a month before the shows.  The biggest deal were probably the three nights back to back at Sydney’s Entertainment Centre from the 12-14th.  It was one of these which was filmed, and footage later popped up on some promo videos. Two of the shows did appear on audio on deluxe vinyl bootlegs not long after (one of which even went with the title Warm Up In Australia!). Video exists from all three shows, at least two of which look official, and may have been part of the MTV plan to document the reunion, which we assume provides the raw material for this upcoming DVD. UPDATE : The DVD is actually from a show at Melbourne according to the label. The band did three shows there as well (16, 17 and 18th Dec) but we don’t yet know which this is. Full details and track list on the site now at Perfect Strangers Live.
Contemporary reviews suggest that the first night was the best, with Lord on fine form and Gillan getting into his stride after a few teething troubles. What can you expect set wise? Well the show majored on Machine Head (with a couple of oldies) and over half the new album and went something like Highway Star / Nobody’s Home / Strange Kind Of Woman / Gypsy’s Kiss / Perfect Strangers / Under The Gun / Lazy / Child In Time / Knocking At Your Back Door / Difficult To Cure / Space Truckin’  / encores Black Night / Smoke On The Water.
Obviously in the intervening thirty years there has been a lot of water under the bridge and the reunion did sort of stutter once the initial album and world tour had happened but hopefully this release will remind us all of just what an exciting time 1984/5 was to be a Deep Purple fan. Images from deep-purple.net

Deep Purple Warm Up In Australia

Blackmore’s chart

March 28, 2013

Ritchie Blackmore top ten chartA nice retro top ten albums and singles chart, but compiled by Blackmore back in 1984 from his current listening tastes. See the full chart on the Darker Than Blue pages.