Rainbow + Mostly Autumn
@ The Hydro, Glasgow
June 25, 2017
Review by Pete Mutant
Photography by Gavin Lowrey
What more can be said about the guitar icon that is Ritchie Blackmore? He’s been testing the boundaries of both music and the guitar for 50 years and it must be said that there’s never been anyone else quite as spellbinding as he is. Having brought Rainbow back in existence in 2015 -after an eighteen year hiatus- he has been clocking up some miles and been entertaining the masses at some of the biggest and renowned venues. Tonight he was bringing the Rainbow show to the SSE Hydro for a mix of some of his most legendary songs from both Rainbow and Deep Purple.
The venue itself is becoming one of Scotland’s foremost attractions, having brought some of the biggest names in rock and metal to play a host of historical concerts to sold out audiences. I remember the skeletal form of the Hydro, consuming the landscape in the guise of a mini-colosseum when it was under construction. For years it seemed as if we were getting an open air venue which of course, in the west coast of Scotland, was surely an insane concept. Good thing that they put a roof on it. Fast forward a few years and the Hydro has become king, welcoming tens of thousands of people to some of the largest events in the country. It had been three and a half years since I had last been to the venue when Black Sabbath had reunited (minus Bill Ward) and it was a good feeling to return.
As I entered the venue, the air was alive with excitement as many an attendee was garbed to the hilt with many a Rainbow top in sight, covering countless tours from years long past. The announcement that the show was about to begin rang loud as the audience were shuffling about, getting the drinks in, having a laugh and preparing themselves for a journey back to the glory days of rock music. There was just one supporting act on the night in the form of the progressive folk rock outfit Mostly Autumn. The band usually performs as a septuple but tonight they were only five, as Anne-Marie Helder and Liam Davison were both out of the picture. They had released their latest and twelfth studio album in ‘Sight Of Day’ in April so it was more than likely that we were to be treated to some of its contents.
Treated? Greeted actually, as Mostly Autumn [3.5/5] opened their set with the anthemic ‘Tomorrow Dies’. Vocalist Olivia Sparnenn used her high and mesmerising voice to open the song as founder and guitarist Bryan Josh built the melody. The chorus is huge as all forces combine with piercing synths, rolling rhythm, massive guitar chords and her hypnotic and highly emotive singing.
Not everyone that was attending this night had filtered in yet which is a shame as Mostly Autumn were providing a very valuable musical experience. The third song ‘Only The Brave’ was another track from their latest effort and was announced by Josh as a song about legends and sounds. There was a very traditional celtic sound in the opening moments, visions of hills, mountains and wind swept shores of an ancient land came to the minds eye. Josh had vocal duties on this song, his voice a calming current before a coming turbulence. This song had a more harder and psychedelic edge to it with some impressive lead guitar work, also by Bryan Josh.
Mostly Autumn came into some technical difficulties during the fourth song ‘Evergreen’ as Josh’s guitar seemed to fail. It wasn’t long before it was remedied and made up for with some more excellent lead work. Quite reminiscent of David Gilmour with his controlled bends and well measured notes; really authentic and moving music. Olivia was then left with Iain Jennings on stage, playing soft notes and chords on the keyboard as ‘Silhouettes Of Stolen Ghosts’ was played to the appreciative audience. The set concluded with ‘Heroes Never Die’ from ‘For All We Shared’. Another triumph of moving music with gentle vocal harmonies, progressive notey guitar verses and more stellar lead work. They were not the usual sort of group I would go to see but they had such depth and personality that I would definitely consider going to their own headlining show. The band served as a solid opening act and served the audience well.
After a thirty minute or so wait it was time for the main event as the arena was filling up, awaiting the arrival of Ritchie Blackmore and Rainbow. There were a few empty seats about the upper rim but it still appeared to be a fairly large crowd. The anticipation was growing until the moment when the band came out after what felt like an age.
The crowd all stood up in unison and it would be a while until any sat back down again. Rainbow had returned to Glasgow and the atmosphere was electric as ‘One Step Over The Rainbow’ was ringing through the speakers and the music got underway.
Rainbow [4.0/5] came out with all guns blazing as ‘Spotlight Kid’ erupted from the band. I was eager to hear this vocalist, also named Ronnie, and see how he could handle Dio’s amazing range. Although this song was not one that Dio sang on, Ronnie Romero sounded very much akin to Dio and was sounding incredible. Ritchie Blackmore took charge with the first solo of the set and was the first of his solos that I had seen live. The slides elevated the noise to extraordinary heights.
The applause was a cacophony of whistles, claps and exerted shouts of approval. We were treated early on with some Deep Purple in the form of ‘Mistreated’, such a bluesy song made to emotionally exhaust with many a voice heard singing along in the crowd. A song which asks a lot vocally and Ronnie Romero was equal to the challenge.
Next up was one of the Rainbow’s more chart successful songs in ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’. The Russ Ballard cover had to be expected as Rainbow’s rendition was a shining example of the band’s transition after the RJD period. The next song however, was all about Dio as Ronnie Romero screamed “who is the man on the mountain? Dio is the man on the silver mountain.’ Images of the Dio era were displayed on the massive screen behind the band as ‘The Man On The Silver Mountain’ blasted out at a high tempo.
Even Ronnie Romero’s movements matched those of Dio and horns were raised as his voice transcended to a spectacular level. This was one of the songs that got me into Rainbow and I was more than happy with the band’s display.
Ritchie Blackmore and bassist Bob Nouveau swapped their instruments for a couple of acoustics as the moving ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ was played. The tone coming from the guitars was warm and rich as Ronnie Romero sang so elegantly, never missing a note or overstepping. More Deep Purple followed with ‘Perfect Strangers’ and Ritchie Blackmore donned his ivory Strat again. In an interesting twist, the band all joined forces to play a very 70s prog styled version of Beethoven’s ‘Ode To Joy’.
The song went through various interchanges before members started walking off stage leaving keyboardist Jens Johansson in charge. His dexterous charge was something to behold. From exhilarating scales to soft and melodic notes and chords he excelled and kept on going.
Some of the crowd grew restless though and a few boos rang out towards the end of his performance. Some members in the crowd clearly didn’t care for these solo displays of musical mastery which is a bit of a shame as he was excellent and did not deserve to be met with such disregard. Most were genuinely appreciative though as the band walked back on stage to bring ‘Ode To Joy’ to a close.
From this point forward it was just hit after hit after hit. A candle blazed on the screen as ‘Sweet Child In Time’ captured our souls. From there ‘Stargazer’ sent us on a journey through time and space, though Ritchie Blackmore didn’t feel the need to continue the melody, with the verse riff being performed as ghost notes which left the song with a little less impact. Still, there were great trippy visuals to accompany another smashing song, executed superbly by the rest of the band. ‘Long Live Rock And Roll’ then brought us back down to earth before the members all left the stage building up to the encore. Not a big fan of encores myself but it’s all part of the show and we were about to be given an exemplary send off with four huge songs.
The band came back on stage and led us into the fiery ‘Burn’, an old favourite of mine. Ritchie Blackmore was ever so slightly off at certain points but the full on energy carried the song. Next, ‘Black Night’ got more people moving which gave the spotlight to drummer David Keith for a riveting five minute drum solo before things slowed down with the ever soulful ‘Temple of The King’. Ronnie then brought us to the climax of the evening as the quintessential ‘Smoke On The Water’ was introduced with “We all came out to Montreux!!!’ to which the crowd replied “On the Lake Geneva shoreline”. The instruments came in on the chorus and all attending were singing along. Some were holding each other, others were jumping up and down.
Such an iconic song to bring the night to a close. A monumental gig which ticked off a lot of boxes for myself and a sheer crowd pleaser. We left the Hydro and entered the night with an accomplished feel knowing we have witnessed a grand spectacle, a show to be remembered for the rest of our days.
1. Spotlight Kid
2. I Surrender
4. Since You Been Gone
5. Man on the Silver Mountain
6. Sixteenth Century Greensleeves
7. Soldier of Fortune
8. Perfect Strangers
9. Difficult to Cure
10. All Night Long
11. Child in Time
13. Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
16.The Temple of the King
17. Smoke on the Water