UK Tour 1981
Turning A Deaf Ear
Rainbow Theatre, London July 1981
LET ME out, I want to go home and a sortie out to the bog for paper to stick my ears seems necessary for survival.
This isn't so much of a gig, more a gross invasion of your ears by evil little decibels hell bent on destruction. Sure, all the trimmings are here - a tight package of dry ice and stabbing lights - but where is the substance?
Joe Lynn Turner may be prettier than Dio or Bonnet but he's not in the same class. They've worked him hard in the studio and turned him into an acceptable cover version, but live his voice peaks too soon and lacks depth - especially when having to battle with Ritchie Blackmore's guitar.
Bobby Rondinelli also lacks the power and showmanship of Cozy Powell and he's content to lose himself in a few furious blusters that get nowhere. Meanwhile Roger Glover plods on trying to inject some life into the corpse.
Even the singles are casually thrown away, including 'I Surrender', which turns out to be the chief mess of the evening.
After all these years, you would have thought Blackmore would have cleaned up his act and cut down on his excruciatingly long solos but out they come again dusted down, followed by some slightly out of tune keyboard tinkering from Don Airey sounding like Rick Wakeman circa '74. This gig isn't a crock of gold, but a pot of tarnished brass.
Robin Smith, Record Mirror - 1981
Caught in the act: Rainbow Theatre, London July 1981
THE MORE things change the more they remain the same - at least as far as Ritchie Blackmore and his backing band Rainbow are concerned. Backing band? Yes, if you've ever seen the band at any stage in their six-year-plus career.
Ritchie has always been the star and it was never more evident than at the Rainbow, when it seemed that the spotlight was never off our guitar playing wizard.
Even when Don Airey was doing his Bach-Handel inspired intro to "I Surrender"; even when Roger Glover was commanding the front of the stage with his bass slung like a machine gun and his legs clad in unexpected black spandex; even when new singer Joe Lynn Turner was doing an effective if over-tall impersonation of Ronnie Dio - it always seemed that Blackmore was the man you were supposed to be watching.
Mind you, Blackmore still maintains all his talent, all that ability that has made him one of the finest hard rock guitarists around. But one still wished that he wouldn't shove it in your face so often.
Perhaps the revelation of the night was Turner as Rainbow's new singer. He was about one tenth of one point down on Ronnie Dio at his finest. He wrapped his tonsils more than effectively round such delights as "I Surrender", "The Man On The Silver Mountain", "Catch The Rainbow" and "Can't Happen Here".
As a front man he has yet to learn his craft, I fancy, but as a singer he has the native ability to be Rainbow's finest yet.
Drummer Bobby Rondinelli was about as effective as any percussion is the band has yet boasted. He's less flash than Cozy Powell but I feel he has a greater flair as far as technique is concerned.
And for the audience this might easily have been Rainbow's finest moment yet. Quite simply the band was received with open arms and open hearts.
The same might be said for support band, Rose Tattoo who, in Angry Anderson, possess potentially one of the most charismatic front men in hard rock. He tried just about every stunt that HM has seen to win his audience over, and he probably succeeded.
Naturally the evening belonged to Rainbow, however, and, despite the earlier comments about Blackmore's stage conceit, there's little doubt that he is a superb asset to any band. A fine night, a fine night.
Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker - 18 July 1981
Rainbow Wow! Wow!
Rainbow Theatre, London 8 July 1981
UPWARDS of 7,000 bedenimed and hairy Londoners besieged the semi-seatless art deco theatre for this, the capital debut of Ritchie Blackmore's sixth Rainbow arrangement in as many years.
Since their inception, the self-appointed supergroup have been fair game for full-bodied slaggings from both sides of the critical rock 'n' roll fence. In the past, both the press and the punters have given the band a hard time. But let's be honest. Five minutes before lift-off and my mind is completely open, working at maximum unbiased capacity and, moreover, brimming with wholehearted enthusiasm.
Support band Rose Tattoo had served their purpose. Anderson had gotten angry and hollered: "We're here to warm you up - so get warmed up! Do you want me to get the sack?"
The real action began with the Rainbow intro tape, the traditional pomp of 'Land Of Hope And Glory' booming from the gargantuan sound system. And I do mean BOOMING. 28,000 fingers (think about it) poke the humid, smokey air and the sweetie-pie li'l voice of Judy Garland (is she getting any royalties?) informs us that she's "got a feeling we're not in Kansas any more. We must be over the Rainbow Rainbow Rainbow..." in time-honoured fashion. 14,000 eyes (see?) focus onto the stage, which explodes into activity on cue. There're blinding flashpots, billows of atmospheric see-oh-two, a rising backdrop subsiding then rising again (deliberate?) and sufficient lightbulbage to illuminate Blackpool strand.
The strains of 'Spotlight Kid' pump hot ears with the subtlety of a hydraulic drill and, oh yes, somewhere in the senses-shattering fracas, five musicians have taken to the boards. Fail with an opening like that? No chance.
But what of these musicians? Blackmore, of course, sporting a fine line in Liberace cabaret wear and clutching his white Strat (trademark), just makes it look too Goddamned easy. Nevertheless, during the course of the show, no less than five times did we have to stand and admire his undeniable mastery of the instrument. Over 25 minutes in total! Did we need it? OK, so champagne bottles can double as capos, guitar leads as violin bows, and two digits is all he needs anyway, but frankly I'd rather be listening to 'Stargazer', 'Gates Of Babylon', 'Midtown Tunnel Vision' or any other of the numerous Rainbow songs omitted from the set.
Don Airey's keyboard ramble interpolated into a dreadful 'Can't Happen Here'(I wish it hadn't). It was tedious and uninspiring, neither stimulating nor exciting. But halfway through a satisfactory rendition of 'Lost In Hollywood' came a bolt from the blue - Bobby Rondinelli's drum solo. Visions of boredom were left in tatters by roll after roll of breakneck velocity, always rhythmic, sticks being dispensed with and bounced out into the hands of souvenir-hungry punters. I'm sure he had mighty sore mitts afterwards - in the immortal words of the dove-eater: "Flash American bastard".
I refrain from heaping similar praise on the other defendant in tonight's trial, singer Joe Lynn Turner, 'cos I didn't like the guy. A voice he has - but not a Rainbow voice. Neither is his stagecraft worthy of Blackmore's confidence. Otherwise - a well-presented 'Love's No Friend', and entertaining stabs at the hit singles. 'Long Live' was a highly successful crowd participation number, 'I Surrender' worked well enough, and 'All Night Long' and 'Since You've Been Gone' were the first two encores. The show climaxed with a rave from the grave entitled 'Croak-On The Daughter' (Are you sure? - Ed.)
No guitar trashed (groan). No more encores (moan). No chairs to smash (drat). Exit.
Philip Bell, Sounds - 18 July 1981
Where The Rainbow Ends
Rainbow Theatre, London 8 July 1981
On the night of July 8, 1981, a legend died at the Rainbow. It was witnessed by the entire audience, but many refused to believe the fall of their idol, and cheered and clapped as if nothing had happened.
But to those who were listening, as opposed to worshipping, it was obvious. We went expecting musical brilliance. We got an excess of volume, a poor vocal performance, and the musical ability shown by certain members of the band was roughly equal to that of Jimmy Osmond.
I am, ofcourse, referring to Rainbow, and in particular Ritchie Blackmore. Ritchie was, at one time, the best guitarist in the world, even managing to top the poll in last year's MM reader's poll, a credit that, at the time, was well deserved. Now I'm afraid that it is time for Ritchie to rest on his laurels and retire. As a younger generation starts to attend his concerts, Ritchie must find something fresh, or give up.
Maybe this was the band's way of paying back the London crowd for the violent behaviour at Wembley last year, but so much talent inherent within it, trying to out-Motorhead Motorhead is ridiculous. Get wise, Ritchie, or get out.
J. Clark, Bromley, Kent / Melody Maker Letters - 15 July 1981
De Montfort Hall, Leicester 15 July 1981
Congratulations, Rainbow! Quite the best show I've seen from you yet. I'm talking of Wednesday, July 15 at Leicester, when for the first time we didn't have to queue around the block for an hour to get in. When for the first time ever, Rainbow played for two nights so there was room for everyone to breathe. When for the first time ever, the support band came on at 7.30 pronto (Checks watch in case of impaired vision!).
Rose Tattoo certainly attacked the crowd with as much subtlety as a 10 ton sledgehammer, making even the mighty Saxon look pale as support band. They played an immaculate set at the end of which we all settled back to the inevitable one or two hours wait. During which time an endless string of roadies wander across stage gripping one cable or another, quite happy to womble about until the great RB is ready.
But wait, it's only half an hour since Rose Tattoo left the stage. They can't be on yet surely...
They bloody well are! Maybe we'll get the last bus without missing half the set, like last time!
Like I said, it must be the best concert I've ever seen from Rainbow. They were tighter than ever before, and the sound mix was the best I've heard from any band ever. I much preferred the pyrotechnics to the mindless guitar mayhem the great RB usually confers on his adulating acolytes. There were no Ritchie remains hanging from the rafters that night, and I for one was far from being disappointed.
All praise to Joe Lynn Turner and Bob Rondinelli, who despite yells for Bonnet and Cozy from a mindless few, sang and played as well, if not better, than their predecessors. It was so nice to hear 'Catch The Rainbow' SUNG, instead of SCREAMED!
Maybe next time we'll be able to see Rainbow in the comfort of the De Montfort Hall where one of only five foot (me) can opt to pay for a seat and be treated with perfect courtesy rather than play £4.50 for a superb view of hairy armpits and necks, in cattlemarket conditions. Rock gigs are expensive, we're entitled to a decent view, whatever our height!
See you at the De Montfort Hall next year Rainbow. Keep up the good work.
A Small Rugby Rainbow Fan, Sounds Letters - 1 August 1981
City Hall, Newcastle 23 July 1981
A year had passed since Ritchie Blackmore and Rainbow last graced the stage of Newcastle City Hall, and things had yet again changed in the band. Graham Bonnet and Cozy Powell both resigned to pursue other projects following a very successful performance at the first Monsters of Rock festival at Donington. The new line-up was Rainbow Mk VII and featured Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Roger Glover (bass), Don Airey (keyboards), Bobby Rondinelli (drums) and Joe Lynn Turner (vocals).
Their UK tour called at the City Hall for two nights, and I attended the first night, on 23rd July 1981. Support came from Rose Tattoo, an Australian hard rock and roll band, fronted by bald-headed and heavily tattooed Angry Anderson, who went on to major solo success with the power ballad “Suddenly”. I remember that there was quite a buzz about Rose Tattoo at the time, so I made a point of watching their set, and pretty good they were too.
By now I was getting used to the ever changing format of Rainbow, and I’d heard the single “I Surrender” which gave the band another big chart success. Joe Lynn Turner was another great front man and vocalist and took the band even further in the direction of classic AOR and even bigger success around the world. This was another amazing performance by Blackmore and the band.