RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Live in Birmingham 2016
Eagle Records

Rating: B

Hell hath froze over allowing a rainbow to escape in the process! 

The Rainbow referenced here is not an optical illusion but rather the hard rock band featuring ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.

Blackmore has been playing Medieval music for the past few decades in the band Blackmore’s Night. No one ever thought he’d put down his lute and pick up his white Fender guitar once again.  But that is what he did!  Ritchie assembled a cast of characters to join him and returned to the rock stage once more to the utter amusement of his fans.

This was such a special occasion that three European shows were recorded, two in Germany and this one, which was recorded in England. The two German shows at Loreley and Bietigheim were caught on camera and released as the concert film Memories In Rock, on Eagle Vision and Eagle Records in November 2016. This new 2-CD set captures the full audio from the British show at the Genting Arena at the NEC, Birmingham.

The band lineup for this incredible show featured Ritchie Blackmore (guitar); Ronnie Romero (vocals); David Keith (drums); Bob Nouveau (bass); Jens Johansson (keyboards); Candice Night (backing vocals); Lady Lynn (backing vocals).  The band is solid and the sound, for beginning life as a soundboard recording, is solid. 

All eyes were all Blackmore as he is a guitar god, but all ears were on Ronnie Romero, the latest Rainbow lead vocalist.  He was not hired to sound like Graham Bonnet or Joe Lynn Turner.  He was there to do his best Ronnie James Dio impersonation.  And he did this very well.  In fact, on the Deep Purple classic “Perfect Strangers” Ronnie sounds so much like the other Ronnie that one realizes how cool this song would have been if recorded by DIO! 

While Romero stands up to the impossible Dio comparisons, he also handles the difficult task of singing well-known songs by several other well-known singers including Graham Bonnet, Joe Lynn Turner and Ian Gillan.  Considering all of that…the lad did well.  The rest of band plodded along, staying out of Blackmore’s way.  When Ritchie wanted to shine…he shined...and on this show he shined a lot!

It is refreshing to hear him jam out on “Man on the Silver Mountain,” “Difficult to Cure (Beethoven’s Ninth),” and “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” once again.  So many Rainbow songs were left off the list too…there was no “Stone Cold,” “Death Alley Driver” or “Gates of Babylon.”  There was enough left off the list for an American tour!  They could even make another live album!  (Hint hint!) 

In place of the Rainbow classics left off the set list were many Deep Purple songs including Blackmore’s favorite song, the morose “Soldier of Fortune.”  Purple classics “Highway Star,” “Perfect Strangers,” “Child in Time,” “Burn,” “Black Night/Woman From Tokyo” and “Smoke on the Water” were all performed making this as much about DP as Rainbow.  Actually, Purple and Rainbow aside, the entire concert was really about Ritchie Blackmore.  And why not?  That’s who the people were there to see and hear.

Let’s hope Blackmore finds the desire to continue with the electric guitar. Perhaps Blackmore will return to America.  If not for passion’s sake maybe he will make some poor business decisions that will force him back on the rock ‘n’ roll stage for the almighty dollar/pound!

As fans…we’ll take whatever we can get!

Disc One
01. Over The Rainbow / Highway Star
02. Spotlight Kid
03. Mistreated
04. Since You Been Gone
05. Man On The Silver Mountain
06. Soldier Of Fortune
07. Medley: Difficult To Cure (Beethoven's Ninth) / Drum Solo / Bass Solo / Band Jam / Keyboard Solo (inc Toccata & Fugue in Dm) / Difficult To Cure (Beethoven's Ninth)
08. Catch The Rainbow

Disc Two

01. Perfect Strangers
02. Long Live Rock 'N' Roll
03. Child In Time
04. Stargazer
05. Medley: Black Night / Woman From Tokyo / Black Night
06. Burn
07. Smoke On The Water

By Jeb “Stone Cold” Wright