AUGUST 1st 2017

Review by Ruben Mosqueda

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years, you know

When word spread in 2016 that Ritchie Blackmore‘s Rainbow was going to perform a series of shows in Europe, the rock ‘n’ roll world went ‘bananas.’ Blackmore 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 the said act Blackmore’s Night. However, the audience paled in comparison to that generated by his work with Deep Purple or Rainbow.

Ritchie Blackmore‘s Rainbow circa 2016 doesn’t feature any of the familiar names that have graced the history of the band; this raised many eyebrows when he revealed the cast of characters that would perform the string of European dates. Rainbow‘s 2016 [and present] line-up features front man Ronnie Romero [who was born in Chile but resident of Spain], bassist Bob Nouveau, drummer David Keith and keyboardist Jens Johanssen [Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio].

If you have followed Blackmore’s career you’re fully aware that there’s a vast back catalog of songs to choose from for a set list. Blackmore could in fact have just elected to perform the ‘Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow’ album and or the ‘Rising’ album and fans would have been satisfied.

Instead, what we got was a set list that was comprised Rainbow and Deep Purple ‘hits.’ Frankly, I could live without “Smoke On The Water” and “Child In Time.” The screeching on the latter song has me hitting ‘skip’ no matter who is singing it. “Highway Star” has been done to death as well; killer track but enough already. I did enjoy the inclusion of Deep Purple classics “Perfect Strangers,” “Black Night,” “Woman From Tokyo” and “Mistreated” which are spectacular. Featured prominently are; Rainbow staples “Since You Been Gone,” “Man On The Silver Mountain,” “Catch The Rainbow,” “Stargazer,” and “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll.”

This [live] collection ‘Live In Birmingham 2016’ recorded England follows ‘Memories In Rock: Live In Germany’ which was issued in 2016. The latter didn’t exactly capture the ‘magical wizardry’ of Blackmore; he’s only human, there’s a lot of rust and he’s past he creative peak. It would be dishonest not to point out that Blackmore has lost a step or perhaps even two. Ronnie Romero is by no means Ronnie James Dio; he doesn’t try to be which makes you respect him that much more. While the previous live set ‘Memories In Rock: Live In Germany’ didn’t knock it out of the park. Sonically it’s far superior to ‘Live In Birmingham 2016’ as Blackmore’s guitar is buried in the mix. It’s hard to believe that Blackmore would have ‘green lighted’ this release having heard the final product. All in all, there’s rust there but it’s still a good trip down memory lane or a good ‘Ritchie Blackmore, this is your musical life’ kind of moment, if you will. That is; if you can get over the fact that you can’t hear Blackmore in the mix at times.