Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

Ice Palace - St. Petersburg, Russia   April 11, 2018

Rainbow - St. Petersburg, Russia

Personally for me, "Rainbow" is an absolutely special band. A group that involved me in the world of rock music back in the days of primary school. Slightly gloatingly I now remember this question from my peers: "Hey, do you listen to anything known at all?" Difficult to answer then, and now ... it does not make sense - huge advertising banners around the city, billboards in each box office, tickets costing from 3k, and almost full Ice Palace as a result - the best answer. Time is the most important evaluator of creativity. Well, or one of.

Ritchie is a legend. It is unlikely that someone will argue with this. You can talk a long time about the details: the nasty character of the maestro, the accusations of plagiarism (he should be given his due - never denied), the betrayal of His Majesty Rock, and at the same time the immutable white stratocaster. But the songs that we know and love have taken shape in many ways thanks to the creator's hands. This heritage can not be overestimated. As well as erase from memory, from the soul.

I happened to see the songs of the group in various incarnations: the well-known Turner's tribute "Over the Rainbow", Dio concerts, a cover version from Blackmore's Night, which I visited three times, and also in the performance of small-town cover bands. In general, I have something to compare the mood, quality, atmosphere, which is in the air during this concert. But, at once I will make a reservation, I did not embarrass myself with any illusions when I was going to a concert: the videos posted from the group's performances in 2016 were examined, and the records were listened.

By 18 o'clock in the hall a decent number of people were already crowded, and I decided that I had been in vain to get out of work early - it would be unlikely to get to the stage itself. However, the dimensions were more than decent, and I was quite pleased with my position in the second row. The warm up band quite predictably started at 19.30, played till 20.00 on a predictably weak sound. The group is not bad, but it's too early for the stadiums. The guys looked jammed, static, although in this sense the vocalist completely discharged the atmosphere, but tried. The team did not cause negative emotions, but I can not say that I was pleased. I just do not like bands that perform lyrics in Russian. I hope "Compass Mauri" got a good experience and a lot of new fans. Good luck to them!

The expectation of the headliners lasted a little more than the expected minutes by 15-20; Well, it's forgivable. Finally, the shadows loomed on the stage, the famous intro sounded and burst. For the first rows, the sound was very decent - everything was distinguishable, except the backing vocals of Candice and her girlfriend. Ritchie's guitar now sounded a bit toothless, but clean and nice. I remember with horror the "sand-chain saw" of his son Jurgen, who was responsible for the lead party in "Over the Rainbow". His father could do this in order to make up for some inaccuracies, to take the viewer by the power of sound, but no - an easy overload, extreme honesty with himself. However, all the flaws as a result were well audible. Honestly, I did not expect much, but I still hoped for more accuracy.

Almost all the solos were simplified, reduced, and some excluded at all. The riffs stayed in place and sounded very authentic. Although, the performance lacked the ease and enthusiasm with which Ritchie drove them at the concert of Blackmore's Night in the early 2000s in the BKZ, where almost a third of the set was played on the Stratocaster, and the program included even the most-important-riff. But now there were a lot of songs, for a variety of pretentious taste. Of course, personally I wanted to hear more Rainbow compositions, but so many DP things were predictable. By the way, it seemed to me that the "alien" Child in Time became almost the best concert number, in many respects thanks to the remarkable voice and pitch of the singer Ronnie Romero. That's really a nugget! Heard, some rest on the lack of charisma in the boy. For me, he just feels somewhat clamped in this team, and always keeps a little distance from the rest. I do not exclude that there is some tension in the relationship with Ritchie, who is known for his tendency to change musicians as gloves. But still I hope that their cooperation will bring more fruit than a few concerts and one new composition, because the singer Ronnie is simply wonderful.

The rest of the musicians. The whole concert was haunted by the feeling that I once again got to the concert of Blackmore's Night (for the fourth time!), But it's not surprising - the rhythm section is the same, and Candice is right there. When the maestro took up an acoustic guitar, which, incidentally, was treated much better than with an electric guitar, this sensation was amplified many times. Soldier of Fortune and Carry On John turned out to be just magical, but harder songs lacked power and nerve. Eh, to whom you left us, old Cozy ... Turner, by the way, the rhythm section was magnificent (no, not that word - suitable). I listened to the bootleg and once again made sure of it. Ritchie's boys are not bad either; the gift that the drummer still learned the introduction of Stargazer, so he was so happy that he repeated almost as much as twice. By the way, "Stargazer" was very pleased with the fact of its availability. Romero, as always, was on top.

Keyboardist Jens Johansson also copes well with his duties, although it feels that the hard rock style is not too close to him. Nevertheless, a musician of high class, and listening to his game was a pleasure. Some solos of Jens were played as if by the hand of Ritchie himself - the sound of the synthesizer very well imitated the sound of the electric guitar. They say that the band was in a good mood compared to the concert in Moscow. Probably this is the case: Ritchie talked a lot with the audience, reached out his hands to someone, asked people in the front what song from the set list to perform next - it was all just wonderful and the audience was delighted.

However, I did not feel any special chemistry between the musicians. There was Ritchie, there was Ronnie and there were all the rest. It's clear that in the current line-up the team plays all-nothing, so the demand is low. But the chip with the set list was very pleased, - as a result, the concert turned out to be a little more unpredictable. But flirting with Russian folklore, I personally was left indifferent - after all, I do not go for it to hard rock concerts, although Difficult to Cure, during which it happened - one of my favorite interpretations of the classics.

And now, the expected famous introductory quarts from the maestro guitar is the first thing that I once learned to play the guitar, then the ending, a long ovation, smiles on the faces of some and tears (of happiness?) in the eyes of others. And this seemed to me a little bit small, so I went to chill at the service entrance until the second hour of the night, when Ritchie and Candice finally deigned to come into the night and gave autographs to everyone (it seems), their patient admirers. That's when this evening seemed really special to me.

© Vladimir Kulikov

Rainbow - St. Petersburg, Russia

On Sunday I left the "Olympic" in mixed feelings. My friend, who first came to the Blackmore concert, probably could not understand my confusion (although the concert in Lorelei in 2016 made a completely magnetic impression to me, although many then said that "Ritchie is no longer the man"). In the "Olympic" I saw not a virtuoso guitarist, but an aged, tired man who practically did not play solo and often made mistakes. Ritchie, of course, tried to pretend that he enjoyed it, even smiled, communicated with the audience, but it turned out to be something tense. In general, Still I'm sad.

The whole concert was drawing Ronnie's charisma and the brilliant material of the classic Rainbow and Purple. Then I decided that I would not judge strictly, after all, Ritchie is almost 73, and thanks to him already for the fact that many born after the fall of Rainbow in 1984 (to be sure, and even after the collapse in 1997) have the opportunity to hear this genious music performed by the author. "I'll wait for the concert in St. Petersburg," I told myself then.

And so, on April 11, a small queue in front of the entrance to the Ice Palace. "How many familiar faces," I note to myself (and some I remember from the concert of Lords of Black in December, so Ronnie's own army of fans starts to form). A couple of hours of waiting, a traditional jog and we stand in front of the stage in the second row. Visibility is excellent (although, unlike Moscow, here our tickets were without early entry).

"Ice" is filling up sluggishly (there are fears: really in St. Petersburg Rainbow does not collect a full hall?). Again waiting, the group warming up, preparing the stage, "Land of Hope and Glory" ... STARTED!!! Ritchie comes out, stands right in front of me on his knees and extends his hands towards the hall (which he will do more times for the whole concert). From the very first songs it becomes clear that the band came out in an entirely different mood: the game of the musicians and Ritchie himself do not leave any chance in the "Olympic" concert. And the sound in the "Ice" did not fail.

"I had to go to St. Petersburg," I write to a friend who was with me at a concert in Moscow. "One" Mistreated "here stands the whole concert in the" Olympic ", - I say, and I hear approving exclamations nearby (our people)! The Deep Purple classics were really played above all praise! The band seemed to be replaced, if they play like this concert for concert, what will be in Prague on April 20? Emotions are overflowing, it's already difficult to tell the details, but by the end there was a landmark that characterizes the whole concert yesterday.It seems it was Burn, Jens plays solo, Ronnie is in the right part of the scene and looks into the hall, respectively he's going to play the rest of the musicians. "Ronnie does not see this gesture and is going to join after Jens, but at that moment Ritchie starts to play solo behind him! In general, even the musicians did not expect such a return from Ritchie! He is a genius genius, and even now, at 72, when he takes a guitar, he can give us real magic! Long Live Rock'n'Roll

© Evgeny Lektorskyv