Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and Sweet at Birmingham Genting Arena 28/6/17

When I was a teenager getting seriously into rock and metal in the early 80s I was lucky enough to see some of the biggest acts around: AC/DC, Sabbath, Quo, Ozzy etc. One band I never got to see, however, was Rainbow and one guitar wizard I never got to see (in any formation) was Ritchie Blackmore. For some inexplicable reason (and I am normally really on the ball with this) I failed to get myself a ticket when Blackmore revived the Rainbow name and announced a tentative return to rock ‘ n’ roll last year. So when a further tour was announced this year I made absolutely sure I was going to be there this time.

The evening was going to be made even more special when I found out the support act would be Sweet, who I have been following for as long as I’ve been following Rainbow. Unlike Rainbow, I have seen The Sweet many times before over the past twenty-odd years – but usually in small rock venues or provincial theatres, never in an arena with a 15,000 strong crowd. In some ways, both Rainbow and The Sweet summed up the music of the mid 70s: the albums-based rock was brilliant and the singles-based pop was brilliant, too. Perfection!

Tonight would give Andy Scott and co the chance to rekindle their relationship with many older rock fans as well as hopefully winning over some newer fans, too. ‘Hellraiser’, ‘Teenage Rampage’, ‘Blockbuster’, ‘Ballroom Blitz’ et al all go down an absolute storm. My only complaint was that the set was heavily weighted towards the old hits, with little time for the harder-edged album-oriented rock of which the band have an impressive, if less well-known, back catalogue. However, we did get stunning versions of ‘Set Me Free’ and ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’ and hopefully Andy Scott’s continuing version of The Sweet has a good few more fans after tonight.

“I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order,” Eric Morecambe once famously said. No-one in their right mind could ever accuse guitar god, Ritchie Blackmore, of that. But funnily enough I was reminded of the old Morecambe & Wise gag when I was thinking about Ritchie Blackmore’s set-list at Birmingham tonight. Pretty much all of the songs that I very much hoped he’d play were in there – but the set order seemed to be in random shuffle mode with little attempt at any sort of thematic approach. We jumped from the polished commercial rock of Joe Lynn Turner-era Rainbow, to Coverdale-era Deep Purple, to the infectious pop-rock of Graham Bonnet, to the heavy prog-tinged majesty of Dio-era Rainbow and so on and so on. I suppose the main message was: “I have been involved with creating some amazing music in different bands with different vocalists and different styles – and whichever order you put them in they are all amazing…” Which is true!

After years away from doing gigs of this type and making albums like this Blackmore’s stunning guitar skills have not dimmed. Never guilty of being flashy for the sake of being flashy or of putting technical prowess ahead of creating beautiful melody, there is an elegance about his playing that is a joy to see live. Ronnie Romero, too, I thought was a good choice of vocalist. Of all the iconic vocalists Blackmore has worked with over the years, Romero probably sounds closest to Joe Lynn Turner in style, but he handled all of the material well from Gillan through to Coverdale, Dio, Bonnet and Turner. Towards the end a keyboard solo seemed to go on forever but that is a minor quibble. At the age of 51, the teenage rock fan in me has finally got see Ritchie Blackmore live on stage and has finally got to attend a Rainbow gig. He is happy.

Set-list – Sweet:

Action
Hellraiser
The Six Teens
Set Me Free
Teenage Rampage
Wig Wam Bam / Little Willy
Love Is Like Oxygen
Fox On The Run
Blockbuster
Ballroom Blitz

http://www.thesweet.com/

Set-list – Rainbow:

Spotlight Kid
I Surrender
Mistreated
Since You Been Gone
Man on the Silver Mountain
Soldier of Fortune
Perfect Strangers
Difficult to Cure
All Night Long
Child in Time
Stargazer
Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
Lazy
Catch the Rainbow
Black Night
Carry On… Jon
Burn
Smoke on the Water

http://www.ritchieblackmore.info/

ritchie-blackmores-rainbow-17

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12 thoughts on “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and Sweet at Birmingham Genting Arena 28/6/17

  1. Blackmore is one of my favorite guitarists ever, mostly from Deep Purple. Just hearing him do “Lazy” would be worth the price of admission. (Would it have killed him to do “Highway Star?”) I confess I don’t much of the other output. Is a lot of it heavy metal sludge redeemed only by his guitar? Or is it good stuff?

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  2. Nice write up Darren! Between yours and Scott’s review sound like this was a great evening with the Man In Black.
    The keyboard solo is jsut to give the old Geezers a rest perhaps.

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  3. I’ve had another good year, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Black Sabbath, Roger Hodgson, Iron Maiden, ELO and now at last Ritchie Blackmore. Like Darren I’ve seen many versions of Deep Purple but never one with RB, Sweet were great (one of my first faves before I found ‘proper rock’). Ritchie Blackmore was truly unique, benefiting I think from not being on a long tour and therefore tired of turning out the same set list each night. The evening had almost a ‘jam’ feel to it, a great basic set list but every now and then veering off, ‘My Woman From Tokyo’ suddenly starting for example. I’m not sure the band quite knew what Ritchie would do next, he’s obviously in control but with an impish sense of humour. Was he really taking requests from the front row? It didn’t matter the band were excellent and followed where the master lead, a masterclass in a back catalogue of rock classics.Ritchie seemed to be having fun my only gripe (as always) is drum solo’s (time to go to the loo) and a never ending organ solo from someone who is very good but definitely not Jon Lord! One ticked off the bucket list!

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    1. A Jon Lord (RIP) or Don Airey solo I would have felt differently about. Same with Ian Paice. They have earned the right to show off and go on forever – but this was a tad self-indulgent. I agree. Small complaint though as I say.

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