European Tour 1983

[U.K & Scandinavia only]

Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool UK 06.09.1983

Tonight was Bürgi's live debut. It was also the band's first gig since December - and I had to swear on oath in blood not to review it on pain of imprisonment in Halfin's bedroom.

I don't know whether it was the band's 'virgin' state or the pain (Ritchie was suffering with back pains), but Ritchie swigged about three times as much scotch as normal pre-gig. Natch this didn't impair his live performance - he's too professional for that - but it did seem to sharpen up his awesome piss-taking prowess post-gig.

Elgar and Garland still open the set, the killer combination of stirring patriotism and Hollywood glitter convulsing the audience before the speedy and tough 'Spotlight Kid' builds on the adrenalin. Tonight's set is harder and longer than the Copenhagen show I caught last year - like the new album it's altogether more satisfying, and an ideal showcase for the band's talents.

Bürgi's drumming seems effortlessly effective, noticeably energising the set. Joe Lynn's hammier than a bacon factory, but a man with such a polished set of pipes I can forgive anything. Roger is quietly confident, casually in control of his situation - but where did he get that hat? Young Mr Rosenthal is a veritable keyboard king in the making while Ritchie of course manages to combine beauty and bludgeon, dynamism and dignity, at once aloof and in charge.

The pleasant plod of 'Miss Mistreated' is chased by the nifty new foot-tapper 'Fool For The Night' ending with the Baron's axe erupting like it's spitting molten lava. Then keyboard conjurer Dave introduces 'I Surrender', followed by the currently anti-Soviet 'Can't Happen Here' (Joe should write Sun editorials in his spare time) and the 'Little Wing' reminiscent 'Catch The Rainbow', Ritchie demanding the crowd cut the claps for the gentle opening guitar passage punctuated only by a connoisseur's shout of "It's dead good that is, Ritchie".

The hell-raisingly heavy 'Drinking With The Devil' ups tempo and toughness (possibly the Baron sold his soul long ago) before the mesmerising musical madras of an Indian-flavoured instrumental and the still droog-approved splendour of their 'Song Of Joy' its power diminished to these ears by being overburdened with solos. Short and snappy keeps 'em happy is my philosophy - or is it that I just hate drum and organ solos? (Though it must be said that Dave did turn in a passable impersonation of the Star Ship Enterprise).

'Power' comes next with retinas rising, the enormous eye-balls on full beam, followed by a smidgeon of blues, the monster riffer 'Stargazer', the penultimate punchy pop of 'Stranded', and the final power putsch of 'Death Alley Driver' complete with Dumpy Dunnell style revving intro, a literally explosive end to a deliciously diverse set.

Encores erupted like they could go on all night but the dreaded cutting scissors of the Barton forbid any further exploration here. Tune back next week for even more leg-shakin' live details - or better still go and catch the Rainbow yourself. You're unlikely to ever find them on better form.

Garry Bushell, Sounds, September 1983

Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool UK 06.09.1983

I don't really know what I expected, so I can honestly say if I got it or not. The venue certainly wasn't what I'd planned. The Royal Court is like a tunnel with a stage at the bottom of it and somewhere in the chaotic din I could just about discern Joe Lynn Turner's voice. It didn't sound well.

From the frantic activity, and the single yellow beam illuminating Ritchie Blackmore, I decuded that the assembled barrage was supposed to be "The Spotlight Kid". Already my notes were taking on heavy underlines and exclamation marks, always an ominous sign.

As Joe Lynn Turner's vocal drowned yet again in the sea of feedback and bass rumble, Ritchie Blackmore stopped being the introverted genius and started being the guitar hero that all the Rainbow fans want him to be. He ripped out a solo of the calibre that leaves molten frets behind, and the whole affair shifted into the motorising position.

At last, things started to really happen! All it really needed was a one-two combination to turn a sluggish run-through into an epic rock gig, and "Can't Happen Here" fitted the bill to perfection.

It takes a band of this calibre to assess the difficulties of the night, and roll its sleeves up and get on with conquering them. Ninety-nine per cent of the time Rainbow succeeded. Wth the right mix and the new album run-in, there may be those who won't live to tell the tale. Still, they'll all have smiles on their faces, and even with heavy rock, enjoyment is still the object of the game. Roll on the return match.

Simon Scott, New Musical Express - September 1983

Ice Rink, Whitley Bay UK 08.09.1983

Ritchie Flack
Letter to Kerrang! Kommunication 20.10.83

I saw Rainbow at Whitley Bay Ice Rink on September 8th and I thought Ritchie Blackmore was God... until I found out the truth. I have loved Ritchie for years, and probably will for many years more to come. I have heard of his moods and what a pig he is too, but I never thought he would pull one of his tricks on me.

Alan Robson (DJ with Metro Radio) asked the man for an interview but he wouldn't give one as Alan had called him Ritchie and not Mr. Blackmore! Mr. Blackmore (!) also refused to sign autographs unless he was paid for it!!

I suppose I shall just have to face up the fact that Mr. Blackmore is just a businessman who thinks nothing of his fans. Where would you be if it wasn't for people like me, Ritchie? I am tempted to remind Mr. Blackmore that the shortened version of Richard is DICK - but I won't. All I asked for was an autograph - was that too much?

Thanks to Roger Glover - he gave me his autograph. Thanks to Alan Robson. No thanks to Mr. Blackmore - but I still love you.

'The Ezz' Redpath, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Ice Rink, Whitley Bay UK 08.09.1983

Whitley Bay. What a lousy place. An ice rink covered in tarpaulin, wooden boards and people, and more people. The cost of merchandise astounds me. I gently work my way right to the front and the show starts around 9.25.

It's a blinder. Ritchie is in amazing form. He controls the band with numerous gestures, obviously all that American touring has tightened them up no end. Between songs Turner is so loud that everything he says is lost apart from exhortations to go out and buy the new album.

Roger was on fine form too but it was Ritchie's night. The whole show lasted over two hours. It's almost impossible to pick out the best bits as it was all so good, but the first part of 'Stargazer' was welcome. For me the bluesy bit before Beethoven probably topped the rest.

It's the best I've seen them since 1977. When he plays that way I can see why we put up with so much from the studio and the long wait in between tours. For the first time to me they looked like a band - Ritchie's band, but a band nevertheless.

Brian Jackson, Stargazer issue no 28

Ice Rink, Whitley Bay UK 08.09.1983

The next time Rainbow visited the North East it was to play in the cold and cavernous Whitley Bay Ice Rink, which was the venue of choice of bigger bands in the 80s, before Newcastle had an arena. This was now Rainbow MK VIIII (!) and the line-up was Ritchie Blackmore (guitar); Roger Glover (bass); Joe Lynn Turner (vocals); David Rosenthal (keyboards); Chuck Burgi (drums). Support came from ex-Runaway Lita Ford.

Whitley Bay Ice Rink was a pretty awful venue for a rock concert. It held a lot of people but standing on top of an ice rink covered in wooden boards is not the best setting for a gig, and it was always soooo cold. However Rainbow’s performance made up for it. Ritchie was on excellent form, controlling his guitar and the band with strange almost magical hand gestures. A bootleg recording exists of the show.

It was a long set by Rainbow standards, probably around two hours. Very loud and a storming performance. One of the best times that I saw Rainbow live. I think Ritchie’s strat was smashed into pieces, which he threw into the crowd, if I remember correctly. This was the last time I saw Rainbow. The next time I saw Ritchie it was back in Purple at their massive comeback show at Knebworth.

Vintagerock's Weblog

New Bingley Hall, Stafford UK 10.09.1983

LITA FORD was winding up her set as our motley crew trudged in from the blackening night. She did, however, offer the clearest evidence that all the most nightmarish stories you've ever heard about the sound quality of the Bingley Hall are sadly true. I realised then, as great mounds of reverb echoed around the cavernous hall, that this gig was going to live or die on its atmosphere alone.

Steve 'Fast Focus' Callaghan was left to snap amidst the potential horrors of the crowd while I was chaparoned into a niche on the balcony by Rainbow PR Alan Edwards' roving troubleshooter Carri Haggerty, who's legs, according to Ritchie Blackmore, were liable to cause serious disturbance to any constructive work; I agreed. Fortunately, we didn't run into the band till afterwards and the evening's toil could be carried through without disruption. Over the next two hours Rainbow unleashed a cavalcade of sheer, unremitting POWER.

The impression burnt deepest on my memory was that of a devastatingly frenetic pace coupled with an exhilarating display of brute musical muscle. Blackmore, I am convinced, has finally concocted the Rainbow he has long striven for. Certainly, he seems content enough with the band's current format and direction if the quality of this performance was anything to go by.

I noted earlier that the atmosphere was to be the crucial factor here; and that atmosphere charged the air with a frenzy of expectation as 'Land Of Hope And Glory' boomed from the speakers, segueing into 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' - and then: BANG! CRASH! Off go the explosions, up come the 'Eyes' from the back of the stage, spotlights beaming through the pupils, and on rush the band!

Blackmore, Glover and Turner occupy the white stage floor while Rosenthal and new drummer Chuck Burgi are raised above the white encased amps. They proceed to storm through 'Spotlight Kid', 'Miss Mistreated' follows with Blackmore exhibiting his almost taciturn, stoic approach to his guitar playing. His is a particularly studied, undemostrative style save for his periodic dips onto one or both knees.

"This is one of the best audiences in Great Britain!" cried Joe Lynn Turner, answered by an ecstatic, near hysterical response of the sort that was lavished on Rainbow throughout the evening. It was like they really had come home! Turner himself has been the subject of much abuse at the hands of the press but the reasoning escapes me. His voice is nothing short of stunning, and its pitch and strength are really quite awe-inspiring considering that in the course of the two hour set he barely stopped singing!

With the exception of 'Catch The Rainbow' (which we'll come to in a second) and the instrumental - played to a backdrop of a Beethoven bust, but being an ignorant sort I couldn't put names to the distinctly familiar tunes proffered, suffice it to say they were a useful vehicle for Blackmore to express his classical leanings - the entire set consists of near frantic rock'n'roll numbers with barely a pause for breath between them. But Turner seemed to take it all in his stride and, had the sound allowed, he could have put paid to his critics once and for all.

It's only on the older Dio material, 'Catch The Rainbow' and 'Stargazer', that he doesn't seem quite comfortable. This, I feel, is a question of style; Turner is a rock'n'roll singer whose voice comes into its own on the newer material - 'Stranded', 'Fool For The Night', 'Miss Mistreated' and the classic 'Death Alley Driver' as well as on the Rainbow anthem (and fourth encore number!) 'Long Live Rock'N'Roll' and the surprise inclusion of the show, the old Hendrix masterpiece 'Hey Joe' - here he is in his element!

Complaints are few (aside from the sound): the lights were very poor but the dramatic backdrops and the 'Eyes' compensated for that; Roger Glover could perhaps have played a more active role in the proceedings; and there was a drum solo! But here we have Rainbow with their most compelling set ever. The material from the last two albums, which assumes over a third of the performance, is their strongest since 'Rising' and Blackmore was obviously relishing the task of displaying his work before this rapt and electrified audience. Rainbow are back, bigger, bolder and more powerful than ever before! (And yes, the Strat was trashed, Blackmore's ultimate gift and sacrifice... it was THAT good!!!)

Dave Dickson, Kerrang September 1983

Michael Sobell Sports Centre, London UK 17.09.1983

Some people just don't know when to quit. By rights, Ritchie Blackmore should have left the sweat to dry on his strat years ago. He should have gracefully made way for the flash young guitar boys. In the most self-congratulatory business in the world, he'd done enough to rest on his laurels. But 1983 brings the obligatory album and tour, and I'm cynical about it.

Raunchy Lita Ford, the self-proclaimed 'heavy metal in the Runaways', was stormin' through her set when we arrived. I was immediately reminded of being talked at by a drooling American~A&R man: 'We're gonna put this photo of her on the front of the album - black stockings, leather leotard, everything. We figure every teenage boy is gonna wanna get off on her.'

I didn't get off on her tonight. Tight, shiny trousers and sharp looking guitars do not rock and roll make, especially if the audible result is bad.

And when hard rockin' Lita announced her last song, the crowd went crazy. "What?" she grinned. But I think she realised that she hadn't made the grade. So far the cynicism is well-founded, but not Rainbow-related.

However, from the opening strains of 'Land Of Hope And Glory' and the cut from The Wizard Of Oz ("I think we must be over the rainbow... rainbow... rainbow"), there was no place for it. Reasons follow. I've never heard Blackmore play better guitar than he did tonight. He wrung notes out of his instrument, sweet and clear, and then shook his left hand as if discarding them to the floor.

It was those delightful touches, the liquid ease of the blues run, the laconic omission of the odd lead riff, the way he shot his sleeves before coaxing breathless scurries of notes from the guitar - it was those touches of real genius that made the evening fully worth it.

While fellow axe BOFs are jamming the roof off the Albert Hall, Blackmore surrounds himself with what seems to be just another faceless parade of LA sessionmen. But painted comments aside, they looked like a group tonight.

My single grudge is held up against their (albeit seemingly impromptu) version of 'Hey Joe', during which Joe Lynn Turner hammed it up far too much and ended up enacting a mawkish tribute to Hendrix... but in the heat of the moment, anything can happen.

Whether it was the man in black who created the atmosphere or whether it was just one of those rare occasions when the band truly rise to it (the occasion), I don't know, but from 'Spotlight Kid' to 'Long Live Rock And Roll' and 'Smoke On The Water' (Black Sabbath??) Rainbow were on top.

Dave Lee Roth once said 'All the guitar heroes of the Seventies are dead.' Nonsense. This one isn't even breathing hard.

Jay Williams, Sounds 24 September 1983

Michael Sobell Sports Centre, London UK 17.09.1983

Ritchie Flack
Letter to Kerrang! Kommunication 20.10.83

I'M SURE I'm talking for many headbangers who went to see rainbow at the Michael Sobell Sports Centre...

It wasn't only that Rainbow played a pretty bad set (no old tunes like 'Kill The King', 'Long Live Rock'n'Roll" or "Stargazer", no smashed up guitar, too many unnecessary solos). The set can be explained, because Turner still can't and never will be able to replace Ronnie James Dio, the best singer in the world.

The real disappointment was the Sobell Centre itself; general admission and no seating resulted in pushing and squeezing inside the arena.

When I and other disappointed fans got to the station, we found that the station was already closed. I had the chance of paying 20 quid for a taxi or sleep in London's East End.

I just hope that no more groups play at that place (where you pay £ 4.60 for a four-pack of warm beer!) again. Can't wait to see Dio at the Hammersmith Odeon.

Patrick, the Holy Diver (!) from Loudwater.

Fyns Forum, Odense, Denmark 28.09.1983

The acoustic was awfull thats why Ritchie stopped playing. He hates bad sound. People refused to leave. They wanted something for their money and started to rip off the gear. Suddenly a local motorcycle gang member jumped on the scene and kicked the pole that carried the light spots and it all fell down on the audince hurting a girl badly. The police came but people still refused to leave and the police backed off. Later police came again - this time with sheeperd dogs and people left nice and quiet. So sad.

Ritchie Blackmore was an ase that night (too). He played 45 minutes and left the stage. Panic broke out, and sevarel people were injuried.

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