Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Monsters Of Rock live review

Loreley, Germany   June 17, 2016

Last night, the new line-up of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow made their live debut in Germany. Classic Rock were there to see another Rainbow rise

Rumours are spreading like wildfire: “They may open with Highway Star.”

Instead of Kill The King?

What the hell is going on? Well, the answer's simple: it’s Ritchie Blackmore, and he's back in business. The Man in Black. The man who plays by his own rules. The master of practical jokes. A man with the balls to capture the first gig of his reunited Rainbow line-up on film for a future DVD release, with a band that has never played live before.

Blackmore has been away for almost twenty years. After he left Deep Purple for the final time in 1993, he reformed Rainbow for one album (Stranger In Us All) and one tour, ending things in Denmark in 1997. From there on he was only seen in strange clothes performing medieval music with his wife Candice Night, preferably in those old German castles he loves so much. No more guitar smashing; the brain behind classic hard rock anthems like Smoke On The Water and All Night Long had left the rock‘n’roll building.

So when the news broke that he might do some shows torturing that famous white Stratocaster again, former Rainbow and Deep Purple vocalist Joe Lynn Turner wasn't the only one eager to clamber on board once more. But Blackmore has always been like that box of chocolates in Forrest Gump: you never know what to expect. Instead of calling old buddies like Bobby Rondinelli, Bob Daisley, Don Airey or somebody else from those good old days, he opted for another way, forming a new band out of the blue. But does it matter? After all, Rainbow never recorded two albums in a row with the same line-up. And if you’d asked any of the people standing in the muddy theatre, nine out of ten would not have been able to tell you the new singer’s name.

It's all about the guitarist. Almost 13,000 fans have made their way from all over the world (some from as far away as South America) to see one 71-year-old man playing his guitar and his songs for the first time in almost twenty years, and you can tell from the opening chords of that classic Wizard Of Oz intro Over The Rainbow that they've been starved.

When Blackmore (in black bell-bottoms and fringed jacket) enters the stage at last, the crowd goes nuts, and the whistleblowers were right: they open with Highway Star, but in a singalong style (Black Night gets the same treatment later on).

Thumbs up for 34-year-old Ronnie Romero: he hits the first note right and never falters the rest of the night. The young Spanish resident from Chile may look like Adam Lambert in sneakers, but his voice is simply awesome: his version of Coverdale's signature tune Mistreated is terrific, and he even takes Gillan’s Child In Time to another dimension. After he dedicates Man On The Silver Mountain to the late Ronnie James Dio, he has the audience in the palm of his hand. Nice move. His boss also appears to be satisfied, making his way to the first row to gave away his beer before going to the mic and talking, even making Romero introduce Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson twice. History in the mud.

Quibbles? Blackmore could have hired a more appropriate rhythm section: bassist Bob Nouveau’s style is way too funky for this classic hard rock set, and Bob Keith’s drum set looked like one Cozy Powell might have received for his ninth birthday. And maybe, just maybe, Rainbow could have played more Rainbow songs.

After all, that’s what the punters expect at a Rainbow concert, right? If you promote a series of comeback rock shows as being “nostalgic”, why not give people the nostalgia they might expect from the Rainbow Rising tour shirts - with the 1976 dates on the back - available for 25 euros at the merch stall?

The crowd’s reaction to last night’s climax of Long Live Rock’n’Roll and Stargazer was truly amazing. It felt like the place had erupted, with people dancing and singing all over the place, having the time of their lives. But if we're ever to see All Night Long or I Surrender or Starstruck or Sixteenth Century Greensleeves in the future (if there is one!), perhaps Blackmore could leave out lesser Purple standards like Perfect Strangers.

And maybe they could open with Kill The King.

© Joerg Staude - Team Rock / © All photos: Thorsten Seiffert

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Monsters of Rock

Loreley Freilichtbühne, Sankt Goarshausen, Germany   June 17, 2016

Special Guests: Thin Lizzy, Manfred Mann's Earth Band

The news hit like a bomb in the fall of 2015 : Ritchie Blackmore, in 1995 after the "Stranger In Us All" tour he took his (rock) hat off to play from now on only medieval music with his sweet wed spouse Candice Night in the new formation Blackmore's Night, but he announced in 2016 some rock shows under the banner Rainbow. First, there was talk of four dates, but soon it became clear that there would be only three concerts. Two of them in Germany and one in England.

On June 17, it was finally time. Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow returned after 21 years returned to the stage. The Loreley, one of the favorite venues of the living on Long Iceland Englishman, saw the premiere show of the new Rainbow. New in this case is the full line-up of the band. Because the Master had addressed not a member of the former Rainbow line ups on forehand. He wanted to have fresh, hungry musicians whom no one would expect. No Joe Lynn Turner, who had even brought it repeatedly to the attention, not Roger Glover, no Doogie White or Tony Carey, etc.
In Spain he found Ronnie Romero, Argentine singer in services of the Madrid Heavy Metal Band "Lords Of Black". From Sweden comes Jens Johansson, keyboardist of Finnish symphonic power metal band "Stratovarius", which I had seen in April 2016 at the Metal Franconia Festival. On bass there was Bob Noveau, actually Bob Curiano, and the skins were to be hit by David Keith. This rhythm section is known from "Blackmore's Night".

But we are now chronologically. After the inlet at 16:00 the comedian and actor Hans Werner Olm opened his acoustic guitar from about 16:30 the music program. When he began reciting BB Kings "Hoochie Coochie Man" and AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie", I believed in a high-quality set of a music fan who has absorbed a lot of good music to his previous 61 years. But from the third piece he drifted off into more slapstick-like manor. Olm parodied here, albeit skillfully, Peter Maffay, but he made the girl "Josie" into the pig "Rosie" and how this sometime later ends up at the slaughter and later on a plate. Also a Reinhard Mey parody was born by the born in Bochum Olm who fired it on the audience. I wonder what the international audience (there were fans from England, Spain, Chile, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and many more) thought at the Loreley of his German text versions of all these songs, unfortunately it remains a mystery to me. The three Israeli with whom I talked a long time before the event, could make anything hardly of it. Shortly before five the Olm'sche nightmare was then however already over.

After about a three quarters break Thin Lizzy were from 17:40 on stage. Well, many fans believe, Lizzy is not with us anymore and what is sold here under this name there, is simply a Tribute-, or worse, a cover band of the Irish rock legend. Certainly, by the founding members, no one is now on board and Phil Lynott is dead for 30 years. Also Gary Moore has been dismissed five years ago and original drummer Brian Downey left Thin Lizzy a year ago. But with Scott Gorham is a guitarist in the current lineup, who joined in 1974 the band and it brings, with intermissions, even at a total of 26 years in the band. Singer Ricky Warwick is since 2010 there. For the years 2016 and 2017 it has been back with the addition of "anniversary shows" because of the 40th anniversary of the album "Jailbreak", and also to remember the 30th anniversary of Lynott's death.

In addition they have brought in Tom Hamilton bassist of "Aerosmith" into the boat and with Scott Travis sits none other than the "Judas Priest" drummer on the little stool behind the drums. Additional elements of the current lineup are Darren Wharton, the keyboard player was the first in the 1980s already in the band, and Damon Johnson, who belongs as a guitarist already since 2011 in the formation. Now, as there are three guitarists on stage, a sight that the heart of genuine rock fans can let beat much faster. And when the band gets going with "Jailbreak", a thousands hands go in the air. Clear, powerful and energetic - like the sound also the band presents itself and their music. Ricky Warwick proves to be a gifted entertainer, he takes the audience by his hand and win them for his side. And the rain is forgotten quickly, Petrus in the sky also has a peak on the show, closes the locks and even spoiled the fan base with sunshine. Thin Lizzy play almost all of the "Jailbreak" album, especially the title song, "Cowboy Song" and "The Boys Are Back In Town" are celebrated. But of course, also "Black Rose" and "Whiskey In The Jar" were played, two Irish Traditionals, thanks to Thin Lizzy got known to all the Hard Rock fans. Thus, the approximately 75 minute gig on this early evening hour for the triumphal victory for a formation that has the full right to use the name of Thin Lizzy. Despite all thew prophecies of doom.

After half an hour's break to change the stage, at 19:30 we went on with Manfred Mann's Earth Band. This appearance should have been have taken place. Basically every song only served Man's ego to play another solo, even if it robs the song of it's vitality. For real, the versions of well-known pieces such as "Mighty Quinn", "(I Came) For You", "Davy's On The Road Again" or "Blinded By The Light" had zero drive, which have been deprived of any taste. "Father Of Day, Father Of Night" was drawn into an extensive lengthy instrumental. The mood that had Thin Lizzy previously fueled, was largely destroyed by the intellectual appearance of the Earth band playing a kind of "Musician's Music". This place would have better fitted by the adding of a band like "Uriah Heep", "Nazareth" or "Status Quo" to this Monsters Of Rock festival bill. The best thing about the gig of Manfred Mann's Earth Band was that they had the shortest set to around an hour.

Then we had to wait. About 50 minutes before starting it was going to take, before the grand master of rock riffs with his newly formed band took the stage at the Loreley. After the usual intro (from the "Wizard of Oz") Rainbow got started with the Deep Purple number "Highway Star". My Israeli friends had heard somewhere that the set should be material with two-thirds Rainbow and one-third Deep Purple. Blackmore had previously announced that he would also play appropriate songs from his Purple era. As it was the case in the early Rainbow concerts. With "Spotlight Kid" there was the first Rainbow classic, a piece from the time with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. "Mistreated" was the third song on the set list, which appeared first on the Deep Purple album "Burn", but which was also found on the legendary Rainbow Live Double Album "On Stage" where Ronnie James Dio put his stamp on. From that version I do not like the four minute Blackmore solo that appears as a soporific to me (I know many will want to stone me for this statement), but thanks to the Loreley performance I have made my peace with this song on Friday night. Solo yes - but firstly not so sprawling and secondly with significantly more drive. So I myself like that.

"Since You Been Gone" followed as fourth song and perhaps the most commercially successful Rainbow title, originally sung by Graham Bonnet. And then there was the famous "Man On The Silver Mountain", the first real track of Dio time. And so I am on the subject. The new frontman not only carries the same name as the unforgettable small, big man. He gets vocally pretty close to him. Of course I had informed me in advance via YouTube about Romero and placed him right away. So I was curious to see how he would cope with the pieces of the other Rainbow shouters. To my satisfaction it fits everywhere, Romero mastered the tone of all previous singers. With "Catch The Rainbow" another song from the first Rainbow album came. Romero had already announced it when Ritchie whispered in his ear that he had actually planned a different number at this point, but after a brief confusion eventually the only ballad on the setlist followed. Then, Ronnie passed to the backstage area and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", was introduced by the Master on his white Fender, into "Difficult To Cure". Here it was allowed each to play a solo in the foreground, respectively drummer David Keith, bassist Bob Noveau and pianist Jens Johansson. Especially the long-haired Swede at the keys got plenty of applause.

When Romero returned to the stage, he introduced the band and the two background singers, one of them Ritchie's wife Candice Night, belonged, before and initiated with the phrase "Now we are no more Perfect Strangers" to that song that can be claimed to be the youngest song in years on the set list, it's the title song of the 1984 Purple album. The number nine on the setlist was also from the Deep Purple cosmos. And this song was not missing here, too. "Child In Time", a monumental piece, accompanied by thousands Ooooohs and Aaaaahs from the audience. Again Johansson shined in the best manner of Jon Lord on keyboards. Sure, this song is a godsend for each key man. And here there were crystal clear background vocals of Candice Night and her colleague Christine (her last name was not called by Romero).

Then again a massive hit from the Dio era. One of the most important songs from the Rainbow catalogue: "Long Live Rock'n'Roll", the title song of the third and thus last studio work with the little singer (1978). Of course, celebrated by the sodden masses on the steps of the amphitheater of the good old Father Rhine. The last Rainbow piece of the evening was then, the only one from the album whose artwork the Monsters Of Rock, and thus the entire event gave a visual face. Clear, meaning "Rising" and from this album the über-song "Stargazer". With as much sense as drive the audience was around nine minutes served, which had long since slipped into a parallel world. Then it was time for the two last songs. "Black Night" with at least as much power as ano 1970 "Deep Purple In Rock" was allowed on this best of setlist of course not lacking just like "Smoke On The Water", finally, as an encore. The traditional last piece of Blackmore gigs at the Loreley accompanied by fireworks. Some chords got served after the boss had already asked his band to leave the stage. One thing is clear: After "Smoke On The Water" that was it because after that nothing was coming anymore. So the concert was finished by about 23:20.

Conclusion: Every now and then the "Man in Black" attacked and hide twice irritations regarding the setlist (was a day later at the concert in Bietigheim - Bissingen with "16th Century Greensleeves" even a fourteenth piece in the program. Perhaps this was also planned at the Loreley and thus a reason for the intermittent confusion among musicians). The location at the Loreley, with its wonderful ambience is naturally beyond doubt, although the rain, for which alone "the above" is responsible, the upper entrance area was transformed into a muddy desert, and I got to know now from "first hand" some fans. The catering was ok, reasonably priced. What did not work so well, was the matter of the shuttle buses to the concert. Here a bus company has taken on the task, which they did not make it a success to this time to provide a working model even after two years ago. This fact provoked the displeasure of many visitors of the concert, which were a long cold wait after long hours in the wet weather and they would have liked to get back a little earlier in their hotel rooms. I myself got at about half past one the most ferry to the other side of the Rhine, there I got soon a taxi into the town of Urbar above St. Goar, and was shortly before one o'clock in my room. And completely satisfied.

Habemus Lucius - Der Blog
[translated from German language]

Original Blog in German Language: click here

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Rainbow-Rausch im Schlamm

Loreley Freilichtbühne, Sankt Goarshausen, Germany -   June 17, 2016

About 20 years ago Ritchie Blackmore, founder of Deep Purple, ended his rock career and made henceforth Renaissance folklore with his wife Candice under the name "Blackmore's Night". For a few concerts the master guitarist now made an exception. A report from the brilliant concert at the Loreley.

St. Goarshausen. It will light up again; the rainbow. Around two decades Ritchie Blackmore has changed the medieval guitar with the electric guitar, now constitutes marshy with his wife Candice Night, the legend has briefly left the Renaissance approach in order to reflect on hard rock: Friday at the Loreley 15,000 fans celebrated the "Monsters of rock" Festival the resurrection of Rainbow, on Saturday followed the show in Bietigheim.

The news of the return of co-founder of Deep Purple is as sensational as the place. On the historic rocks in the Mid Rhine Valley,something special takes place. Shortly before the support of Thin Lizzy with the strong frontman Ricky Warwick and Manfred Mann's more playful Earthband the sky has dumped a half-year-charge of rain and the ground on the downhill area has been transformed into quicksand soft mud. Woodstock Rutsch'n'Roll, with a majority of jeans and leather jackets, decorated with patches of textile.

Point 21:24 shows the ritual intro from "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy's "We must be over the rainbow". Purples "Highway Star" opened a two-hour show in which he finally is to be heard live again, the unique guitar tone of the 71-years Master in Black, which one recognizes from thousands. With his typical moves in the spotlights from the floor Blackmore conjures on his tool, hardly is moving a muscle, leaving the show to the frontman he has found: Ronnie Romero, optically an option for a 90s boy band, provides vocals to die for, although the fans have to struggle through the knee deep mud for it.

The Chilean modulates its organ depending on the title, sounds with "Since You've Been Gone" as Bonnet, roars "Mistreated" in Coverdale style and have power at "Man On The Silver Mountain" that is believed to receive the power of Dio from beyond. Even in the difficult, by Ian Gillan long ignored "Child In Time" Romero climbs masterfully at all treacherous heights. The only piece of the era with Joe Lynn Turner as Rainbow singer remains "Spotlight Kid".

Stoic Blackmore provides alongside colleagues Bob Nouveau (bass), keyboardist Jens Johansson and David Keith (Drums) his runs and riffs. The instrumental "Difficult To Cure" - a church service of music: Ritchie strings sounds shatter as sharp, shattering glass, he celebrates Beethoven's Ode to Joy, Johansson embeds Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor between. Also "Stargazer" is a feast. Rainbow anno 2016 take the monumental work out while spotlights goes up almost to the moon. Everything fits here and now. "Smoke On The Water" looks because of the fireworks like a Fire In The Sky.

On the way back to the campsite one loves the mud as part of a magical evening. More shows urgently needed. Misses Blackmore, Candice Night, incidentally, stood in the background choir. Maybe she noticed something.

Nevertheless middle ages Blackmore's Night is now first again; on July 16, also at Leipzig Parkbühne. Tickets available on www.lvz-ticket.de.

Mark Daniel - Leipziger Volkszeitung
[translated from German language]

Original Review in German Language: click here

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Loreley Freilichtbühne, Sankt Goarshausen, Germany -   June 17, 2016

Comeback of two Hard'n'Heavy legends: The legendary festival and Ritchie
Blackmore's Rainbow! With Thin Lizzy and Manfred Mann's Earth Band.

Loreley (giu) - Ronnie James Dio had obviously not been able to tell a good argument somehwere above: While a rainbow that was rising shorthly before the show, on stage there was no rainbow after more than 20 years - nothing but a gloomy cloud over the already sopping Loreley discharged.

The Maestro was accompanied by his wife Candice Night onto the stage. She again disappeared quickly. Obviously, not the common tights music was on the program, but the popular songs that Ritchie Blackmore had shaken the world in the 1970s and 1980s.

Of course no members of his first band Deep Purple were on the stage. From the many former members of Rainbow also nobody. Keyboardist Jens Johansson (formerly Yngwie Malmsteen) and the rhythm section of Blackmore's Night, however, delivered a reliable musical background for the legendary Blackmore's solos.

The strong showing of Youtubers

It was revealed on Friday night but not quite up to par. Unlike singer Ronnie Romero, who already quickly stole with his powerful voice. Look-wise he reminded me more of George Michael, but already with the opener "Highway Star" it was clear: Candice Knight had found on Youtube exactly the right man - the singer of Spanish metal band Lords Of Black.

The Chilean managed the pieces, to sound like Ian Gillan ("Child In Time", "Perfect Strangers"), sometimes like David Coverdale ("Mistreated") and especially like Dio ("Man On The Silver Mountain", "Catch The Rainbow", "Stargazer", "Long Live Rock'n'Roll"). While Blackmore nobly restrained and at times hurted his Stratocaster, Romero heated and entertained the audience.

Thin Lizzy ensure a great atmosphere

A few hours earlier Thin Lizzy had opened the festival. While many of the fans stood still outside or tried to park their car in the mud or at a construction site on the threatening high flowing Rhine, they ensured despite the rain a good atmosphere. That no founding member stood on the stage, was not tragic, always the changing line-up for frontman Phil Lynott, of whom his alcohol and drug excesses in 1986 got fatal, played a subordinate role in the past.

The longest-serving member yet, guitarist Scott Gorham, offered much with Tom Hamilton (bass, Aerosmith) and Scott Travis (drums, Judas Priest) as guest stars. The latter had replaced Mikkey Dee (Motörhead) who had declined on a short notice. The American accent of singer Ricky Warwick however does not fit so well to the Irish roots of the band. Neither the final song "Whiskey In The Jar", the audience received it cheering, but it's known Lynott always hated it.

Behind the Keyboard Wall

Significantly quieter went Manfred Mann's Earth band who pulled a face like three rainy days - which meteorologically was not so wrong - and entrenched behind a wall keyboards. Sometimes too often he offered too long versions of his most famous pieces - not one of them from his pen, including three times "Davey's On The Road Again".

So at the end of the evening we had somehow the impression of having experienced three cover bands with legendary musicians. It was successful anyway. "Smoke On The Water" ended the evening of the festival, including fireworks. Lots of smoke, yes, but also many memories of the good old days. On Saturday Monsters Of Rock guested with the same line-up at the Viaduct in Bietigheim-Bissingen.

© Laut Germany / Photo: © Jochen Dreher
Original Review in German Language: click here

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Too much Purple, not enough Rainbow
makes Gav a bit of a miffed fan....

Loreley Freilichtbühne, Sankt Goarshausen, Germany -   June 17, 2016

After arriving into Germany late on the Thursday night and spending the evening drinking too much of the local brew whilst watching Die Mannschaft being frustrated by a resolute Poland in Euro 2016, your Sentinel Daily press corps (myself and the wife) find themselves feeling a little ring rusty as we enter the picturesque surroundings of the Loreley. I haven’t been here since the eighties, but little has changed – even the bill, as tonight’s main attraction are supported by fellow throwbacks such as Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and Thin Lizzy.

Still, the man in charge didn’t want reviews of those bands, so we spend the afternoon rehydrating and waiting for the weather to warm up a bit. It doesn’t, but the schnapps in the water that I’ve taken the liberty of adding does help matters and, as the watery sun starts its downward descent we look stagewards and await the arrival of one of the great guitarists of heavy rock history, back in full electric mode for the first time in aeons and ready to rock.

At least that’s the idea. Opener Highway Star starts slowly but even when the band warm up a little the song is still curiously bereft of energy. Singer Ronnie Romero, brought in presumably (a) because he isn’t Joe Lynn Turner and (b) because of his extreme vocal resemblance to deceased Rainbow alumnus Ronnie James Dio does his best but can’t really raise the song to the heights as the rest of the band feel their way in to the evening’s proceedings. Spotlight Kid fares little better, Ritchie Blackmore opting to not really play the meat of the riffs but half heartedly noodle along instead. This seriously depletes the impact of the song; Romero again puts in a manful effort, whilst keyboardist Jens Johansson does his best to inject a bit of excitement, but the overall feeling amongst the bearded faithful around me is one of disappointment.

However things seem to click as the band moves slowly into Mistreated; Blackmore finally decides to get involved and peels off some wonderful soloing throughout and as the song picks up tempo towards the end drummer David Keith propels things nicely. Right – that’s three songs down, two of them Deep Purple ones. Where will we go next? I’d heard a lot of chat in the crowd before the gig wondering whether any of the big hits would be played tonight. The general consensus was no, they wouldn’t, so a happy roar breaks out as the band take a stripped down approach to Since You Been Gone. This is the biggest reaction the band has received so far, but that doesn’t particularly cut any ice with Ritchie, who puts in another largely disinterested performance which is balanced by the commitment with which Romero addresses the song. However Man on the Silver Mountain is a BIG improvement, with the whole band getting behind the song and the crowd rewarding them with a loud backup vocal. Blackmore riffs with conviction, Romero graciously namechecks Ronnie James Dio. Are we finally firing on all cylinders? It would seem so, as Catch the Rainbow maintains the momentum. Romero, whilst not exactly making the song his own, certainly gives a faultless performance, and this is the best song so far in terms of performance, even if Blackmore does seem just a little too happy to stand in the shadows noodling when all we want from him is for him to stride forward and take us by the scruff of the neck.

A twelve minute Difficult to Cure completely diffuses matters however, even if it does allow for a quick sprint to the bar. Pointless time wasted in a set already looking a bit light on memorable moments, it’s difficult to see the point of this song’s inclusion. In the band’s pomp Difficult to Cure was a tour de force showing off the chops of everyone involved. Today it does little but cause people to realise how chilly the air has become. Perfect Strangers is up next, which is a shame because it’s another Deep Purple song and thus far Ronnie Romero hasn’t handled the Ian Gillan material with nearly as much aplomb as the Turner or Dio songs. He’s giving it his all, of that there’s no doubt, but something about it is just not quite right. The song itself threatens to take off a couple of times but never follows through on the promise. Child in Time fares slightly better, but the crowd – at least the crowd where I’m standing – is really getting antsy now, and we really need something a little more uptempo – and preferably by Rainbow – to draw us back in.

Luckily the next song is Long Live Rock n’Roll. Gotta be a winner, yes? For the first five minutes it is, everyone again seeming to lock in to a groove on the Dio material lacking elsewhere, and things really start looking up. Until, that is, the band again let things slip through their fingers by inserting a dull and unnecessary call-and-response routine which once again dissipates the momentum. Is it Ritchie? I’m starting to think it must be by this point – and certainly during the latter part of the set I see him taking his left hand off the fretboard a couple of times and flex his fingers, maybe cramping a little, and if that’s the case then I guess the band has no alternative. However he has no such trouble during Stargazer, although again he seems to purposely ‘de-heavy’ the song by not playing the riffs properly in the verses; However Romero sings the song better than anyone I’ve ever heard apart from Ronnie James and so all is largely forgiven.

The band trot through Black Night and Smoke on the Water after this, though for me at least the set closes with Stargazer. I’m glad I made the effort to travel to see the great man one more time, though in the final washup I’d have to say that overall this won’t be seen as a particularly glorious swansong for Ritchie Blackmore.

Gavin Strickmann - Sentinel Daily

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Monsters of Rock: at the Loreley

Loreley Freilichtbühne, Sankt Goarshausen, Germany -   June 17, 2016

During the morning of June 17 all hotels are booked in Sankt GoarsHausen over the Rhein River in Germany. Crowds of Hard Rock fans started to appear on the streets of the beautiful, ancient castle-like town. The Monsters Of Rock Festival 2016 has begun. The tension could be felt in the air, even the Rhein River is high and rough, which doesn’t happen often in this season. The ferry had been going through the river every 20 minutes and carried Rock fans to Loreley, which lies on the right side of the river, on the top of the mountain. I shared the hotel with a bunch of Blackmore’s Rainbow Belgium fans, and they stick with me for the rest of the day. In the afternoon, we took the ferry to the other side and continued to travel by bus to Loreley Amphitheater.

There was sun and rain all day; wicked weather with rainbows frequently seen in the Loreley sky. It looked like Heaven’s promotion of the event. My free passes, courtesy of Ritchie Blackmore’s manager Carole Stevens, have been waiting for me at the box office. Through the mud and pouring rain, I was there, along with a huge crowd, wanting a magical heavy experience.

The event started with Thin Lizzy, and the applause was rocking out Loreley. The clouds gathered, and the thunderous delivery of ‘Jailbreak’ cracked the sky. Thin Lizzy, with legendary original founder Scott Gorham (guitar); Damon Johnson, an American guitarist of Black Star Riders; Darren Wharton, original Thin Lizzy keyman founded in the ‘80s by legendary Phill Lynott; Tom Hamilton, of Aerosmith (bass); Scott Travis of Judas Priest (drums) and incredible frontman Ricky Warwick of Black Star Riders, who is a Northern Irish musician with vocals that hold a similarity to Phill Lynott’s voice. They had tremendous sound and volume. Songs such as ‘Angel of Death,’ ‘Rosalie,’ ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ and ‘Black Rose’ with ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ for the encore made the soaking wet Loreley audience dry and hot.

After a short break, Manfred’s Man Earth Band delivered excellent Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, which cooled down the atmosphere. They presented a bunch of well-known world hits by various artists and an excellent Bruce Springsteen cover of ‘For You,’ along with a funky Blues version of Davy’s on the ‘Road Again’ by John Simon.

Suddenly the scene totally changed as the crowd frequently screamed for Ritchie Blackmore and Rainbow. The dark curtain dropped down, and we saw the huge, LED modules constructed with rotating spotlights monster – the computer-driven electronic Rainbow. The blast of light and dry ice exploded together with the first notes of ‘Highway Star’ – a No. 1 Deep Purple hit from the ‘70s. Rainbow deployed its rocket: Ritchie Blackmore’s stratocaster sounded just like it did in the late ‘70s, along with the added modern solutions of the dynamic.

The rest of the band is quite new, comprising Bob Nouveau (Curiano), ex Blackmore’s Night on bass; Jens Johansson of Stratovarius on keys; David Keith of Blackmore’s Night on drums; Christine Lynn Skleros and Candice Night of Blackmore’s Night on backing vocals; and the gorgeous, thunderous vocals of completely unknown singer Ronnie Romero, of Lords Of Black, on lead vocals.

The band opened with Rainbow’s ‘Higway Star’ with marvelous shredding from Blackmore. The band sounded tight, and the rhythm section was perfect. However, there was too little volume on guitar and organ, but the solo was unbelievable good, with spaces between the notes that were magical. The slow guitar part was just not from this Earth. At 71 years old, Blackmore was excellent. Next was a Rainbow hit from Graham Bonnet era called ‘Since You Been Gone,’ which was quite good number for singing together. With a great connection with the audience, they sing together on almost every song, and ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ was dedicated to late Ronnie Dio – nice move. It is followed up by ‘Difficult To Cure,’ an instrumental interpretation of Beethoven’s 9th, with the exceptional sound and solo from Blackmore.

Rainbow performed a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Perfect Strangers’ and ‘Child In Time,’ which was sung with way more freedom, expression and belief than Deep Purple’s current live versions. The young, strong voice of Ronnie Romero backed up with Christine Lynn Skleros high ‘C’ singing through the climax ‘Child In Time’ screaming just knocked down. ‘Long Live Rock’n’Roll’ and ‘Stargazer’ were slower than they were performed in the ‘70s, but it had a lot of emotion and freedom, with the crowd singing backup to make you feel like you were riding the rainbow in a magical kingdom of Man In Black. ‘Black Night’ and ‘Smoke On The Water,’ with overwhelming Ritchie solos and fireworks, ended the show for the day.

The crowd was red-hot in spite of the rainy weather. The walking home thing, in a deep mud after a few days of pouring rain, will be long remembered, along with a historic concert of Rainbow, which has not been on the Hard Rock scenes of the world for 19 years.

Christopher Willow - Hardrock Haven / Photos: © Clemens Mitscher

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Loreley - Bietigheim Bissingen - Birmingham

When last fall it was announced that Ritchie Blackmore would play three 'reunion shows' with Rainbow one thing was clear for the writer: the agenda in June would be fully adapted to these three shows. Here we had indeed been waiting for twenty years. Once it was announced on the various social media there was busy discussion or Joe Lynn Turner, whether Graham Bonnet or Doogie White would pop up behind the microphone. Blackmore came up with one Ronnie Romero, an unknown Chilean from the band Lords Of Black. The big questions previously was therefore: how would this Romero do and - above all - would Ritchie Blackmore still have it in the fingers? Superfan Ludy Wetzl was there.


The Freilichtbühne, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater, located on a hill. Because all traffic has to go up on one single road and it does not go faster than walking, we miss in the real Aardschok tradition Thin Lizzy. At the last moment, Mr Blackmore himself apparently decreed that Manfred Mann's Earth Band must be moved a place up on the bill at the expense of Thin Lizzy. The site of the Freilichtbühne is turned into one big mud puddle and our eastern neighbors have not thought to throw down ramps or at least wood chips.

The prime location is changed into a mountain mud slide. About Manfred and his cronies I can be short: not Aardschok worthy. Moreover, the sound of the PA was so soft that it came barely above the clatter of raindrops. At half past ten finally it is so far: the intro tape of "Over The Rainbow" starts, the moment many have been waiting for twenty years. Opener "Highway Star" starts a bit more cautious rather than how we have the song in our memory. Also immediately noticeable drummer David Keith and bassist Bob Nouveau, both of the band Blackmore's Night, the two outsiders in our midst in this Rainbow lineup. Further there is Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) and two background singers, including Blackmore's wife Candice Night.

Keith and Nouveau are quite out of place. Carefully expressed: I've seen better rhythm sections. The set that follows is a balanced mix of Rainbow- and Deep Purple songs. The first time there are goose bumps is in the form of "Mistreated". Remarkably positive is that the songs from the Dio era are written perfectly for Ronnie Romero. Much more than several Deep Purple songs. Especially "Perfect Strangers" and "Black Night" are in my opinion not very good. Absolute highlight of the first day is "Stargazer", perhaps maybe the best made hard rock song ever . I never thought that after Ronnie James Dio anyone could sing this song so convincingly. If there are still doubters, Romero is the right man in the right place. Halfway through the inevitable encore "Smoke On The Water" we slink off. The game of singing in this song I've heard and seen too many times. After all, we still have a long way to go down the valley of the Loreley again.


With somewhat mixed feelings about the night before we drive on the German autobahn much further to the south to Bietigheim, near Stuttgart. The Loreley show, despite some goose bumps moments, still has not returned the feel as hoped. Is it because of the appalling weather conditions that we had to endure or was it the lesser good playing of Blackmore than expected - afterwards we heard from an informed source that he suffered a lot of cold fingers during the show. Most likely a combination of both.

Beforehand I looked with frown eyebrows at the location of today - an overpass ?! - But on arrival it appears to be a revelation. The sun is faintly shining and there are plenty of eating and drinking places without long waiting times. And that overpass, projecting high above the stage and where occasionally a train goes past, this just makes a beautiful backdrop. Now we have plenty of time and the first thing you notice is that virtually all merchandise is already sold out. Thin Lizzy we miss this time not and although there are more Black Star Riders on stage than Thin Lizzy, it can be described as a very pleasant best-of-show, also because of the great vocal performance by Ricky Warwick.

Manfred Mann accompanies us in the background while we are eating. At exactly nine o'clock there is what we have come for: Rainbow. Right after the opening salvo of "Highway Star" and "Spotlight Kid" we know this will be a very different evening than yesterday. Once again the sluggish rhythm section, we won't mention that again, but Jens Johanssen today is in top form and Blackmore himself, however, is much better than yesterday. but stealing the show is singer Ronnie Romero. An absolute world singer, especially like he shows in "Mistreated", "Catch The Rainbow" and Stargazer". Romero is not nervous, it seems, and his announcements sound much more confident. In the form of "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" there is also an additional number in the set.

Although it sound different than the live version that we know from the distant past, but who cares, this is also fine. Furthermore, the set list is no different to yesterday. The Rainbow songs "Man On The Silver Mountain", "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll", "Since You've Been Gone" and Deep Purple songs "Child In Time"," Perfect Strangers","Black Night" and "Smoke on the Water" all over again and also here Romero sings these songs much better than yesterday. The only sleep moment, it is totally unnecessary drums / keyboard duel in the middle of "Difficult to Cure". It does not disturb me though for years. Rather, nice bathroom break. This time we did not leave the site before the end of the show, but we enjoy all and we see how the band is cheered massive and long after the show. With a big smile on our face we walk back to the nearby hotel, assuming this was just the show of the year.


With the fantastic Bietigheim show still fresh in our memory we get on the plane for a quick visit to Birmingham, where today the third show is scheduled in the Genting Arena. This show was sold out in a matter of minutes, as opposed to the two German shows, for which ordinary tickets were still available at the box office. After mild irritation about having to wait almost an hour before it was proved to go inside we see to have gotten a perfect spot fortunately. Sight and sound leave nothing to be desired. About the setlist I will be brief. "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" is removed again. Not a disaster, because in its place is "Soldier Of Fortune" which came one of the highlights this evening, and again an excelling Ronnie Romero. A certain David Coverdale can suck a very big point to this! Highlight this evening is however the entire venue is singing "Child In Time" along from beginning to end. Wonderful to see and hear! In the encore we get alongside the usual "Smoke On The Water" also "Burn". Told from the wildly enthusiastic response from the audience, no one is sorry about it. Was I last week still assuming likely to have seen the show of the year. Tonight I got that one seen clearly.

Conclusion after the three shows: Ritchie Blackmore played well, but nothing more than that. As in the 'good old days' it certainly was not. No shame for someone who already has already seen 71 springs. His backing band he should have chosen more carefully. Not a bad word about Jens Johansson, but the rhythm section left it severely to be desired. Especially drummer David Keith lacked the power of, say, the late Cozy Powell. Only the way he destroyed the legendary drum intro of "Stargazer" each evening.... my goodness.

Major surprise of these three shows was without any discussion singer Ronnie Romero. That boy is going to be a star, which Blackmore acknowledged again very well. Do yourself a favor and go see him when he goes on tour with his own band Lords Of Black and will play Weert The Netherlands) in September. In case there will be a continuation on this short adventure, I have a tip for my big idol: replace please some Deep Purple songs by a pair of Rainbow classics, so the set list is no longer in balance with both bands. The name Rainbow would do more justice to this. The Rainbow banner after all, was clearly on the posters for all three shows. Moreover, Deep Purple is itself yet around, so plenty of options to go and see these songs elsewhere.

© Ludy Wetzl - Aardschok no 8/9, 2016