MARCH 23rd 2018

Review By: Ruben Mosqueda

When word spread that Ritchie Blackmore‘s Rainbow was going to perform a series of shows in Europe, the rock ‘n’ roll world went ‘bananas.’ Blackmore had turned his back on the world of rock ‘n’ roll several years ago to focus on his love for renaissance music. Over the years, Blackmore has released several records with his band Blackmore’s Night. However, the audiences paled in comparison to that generated by Deep Purple or Rainbow.
Ritchie Blackmore‘s Rainbow circa 2016 doesn’t feature any of the familiar names and faces that have been a part of the history of the band. Blackmore raised many eyebrows when he revealed the cast of characters that would perform the string of European dates as Rainbow. The 2016 [to the present] line-up features; singer Ronnie Romero [who was born in Chile but resides in Spain], bassist Bob Nouveau, drummer David Keith, keyboardist Jens Johanssen [Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio] and background singers, yes background singers which includes Candice Night [Blackmore’s wife] and Lady Lynn. There’s a vast back catalog of songs to choose from as there are numerous Rainbow records. Blackmore could have elected to perform Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow or the ‘Rising’ album and fans would have probably been satisfied with that.

In 2016 Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow issued a CD/DVD collection titled; ‘Memories In Rock: Live In Germany’ to mixed reviews. Fast forward to 2018 where we find Blackmore and Co releasing a new live compilation record ‘Memories In Rock II’ as double CD/DVD which features cuts from the Rainbow catalog along with some Deep Purple. Frankly, I could have lived without “Smoke On The Water” and “Child In Time” and “Woman from Tokyo.” The screeching on ‘Child In Time” always has me hitting the off button no matter who is singing it. “Highway Star” has been done to death in this writer’s opinion; killer track but enough already. I did enjoy the inclusion of Deep Purple classics “Perfect Strangers,” “Soldier of Fortune,” “Black Night” and “Mistreated” which are spectacular. Featured prominently are Rainbow staples like; “Since You Been Gone,” “Man On The Silver Mountain,” “Catch The Rainbow,” “All Night Long,” “Stargazer,” and “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll.”

‘Memories In Rock II’ doesn’t exactly capture Blackmore at his peak as a performer. In fact, Blackmore has lost a step, perhaps two, but you have to remember; Blackmore has never been known to be one to show much emotion if any on stage, it’s hard to assess if Blackmore was tickled by new Rainbow or if he was reconsidering the thing altogether. Ronnie Romero is by no means Ronnie James Dio, but that being said, he doesn’t try to be which makes you respect the guy that much more. There’s clearly a Dio influence in Romero, though he’s not trying to mimic him. Romero’s presumably Spanish accent adds a little flavor to his delivery of the songs. ‘Memories In Rock II’ doesn’t swing for the fence, but it’s a respectable collection of performances. Blackmore has some rust to shake off, so let’s wait and see how this plays out. The DVD is a nicely added bonus to entice fans to pick up this newly issued live collection.  The DVD features newly recorded interviews with Blackmore, Romero and the rest of the band, along with some backstage footage. There’s also a new track titled “Waiting For A Sign” which is worth a listen and has me eagerly anticipating an entire album of original music. Fingers crossed.