Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow : Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Finland

REVIEW BY ARTO LEHTINEN AND MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ WITH COURTESY OF THIS IS ROCK MAGAZINE

Ritchie Blackmore is an institution and a pillar for the genre of heavy metal and rock in every possible way.  His works with Deep Purple and Rainbow have been carved into the history of heavy metal. Those years spent with Ronnie James Dio were pure magic and all the three albums, RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW, RISING and LONG LIVE ROCK’N ROLL, are still considered as a milestone of fantasy and epic metal outputs. Whereas the era with Graham Bonnet and Joey Lynn Turner, paved the way for Rainbow to venture more into the radio-friendly mainstream rock.  At that period the band achieved its biggest hits with “I Surrender” and  “Since You Been Gone.” Frankly, Richie Blackmore is definitely one of the most respected and valued guitarists, and his work in the hard rock genre as well as in the Renaissance music is adored and worshiped by millions of rock fans around the globe. As a matter of fact, there are only very few guitarists who are able to do sold-out tours by playing in magnificent big venues, Ritchie Blackmore is definitely one of them for sure. Blackmore’s Rainbow usually does only a few selected shows in a year, therefore seeing them or him performing the classic tunes is quite a cultural experience for fans.


The show at the Hartwall Arena was 100% sold out when hard rock and metal fans, between the ages of 20 and 70, arrived to see and listen to the old jewels of the classic Rainbow and Deep Purple songs.  The crowd must have figured out this could be the last chance to hear Ritchie Blackmore playing those songs anymore.

The two-hour set got its prestigious start when Blackmore arrived at the stage and brought out the recognizable riff of “Spotlight Kid.”  As far as the setlist is concerned, there is always something to say and squeak for and against of it. Of course, when entering into a concert of a band like Rainbow, the expectation to hear some certain songs is more than obvious. When looking retrospectively at Blackmore’s history, Deep Purple definitely plays a major part in his era and history. All in all five songs of total fourteen were included from that era, whereas nine had been picked from Rainbow.  Rainbow has occasionally also played a couple of songs of Blackmore’s Night, but they had been skipped in Helsinki.

As for the Deep Purple cuts, “Soldier Of Fortune” with the acoustic version definitely sounded splendid as Ronnie Romero’s interpretation was beyond the expectations as his voice outstandingly crowned that song. Jens Johansson’s solo part was pretty surprising as he dedicated the Finlandia hymn to the Finnish show and finally, the whole outfit ended playing “Difficult to Cure,” which is Rainbow’s own version of “Beethoven 9”. As a whole the set was quite as expected with no surprises. However, one nice song can be picked up, and that was “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves.” The song has also been played in few other shows, but quite rarely. Other highlights were Purple classic “Child in Time,” where Ronnie Romero was able to shine and “Stargazer” which is so grandiloquent and epic, that can’t be ignored from the set at all.  “Burn” from the David Coverdale era of Deep Purple concluded the two-hour rock journey to Blackmore’s hard rock days.

The backup band turned out to be vigilant thru the whole show when Blackmore’s way of picking up songs and communicating with the band was peculiar. The Stratovarius keyboard wizard Jens Johansson didn’t have that much room to hassle and joke as he does at shows of his main band. Instead, he and other colleagues had to keep the eyes and ears open in order to be able to follow Blackmore’s playing.  As far as Ritchie Blackmore’s playing is concerned, it was fumbling and he skipped a lot of guitar parts quite entirely. The band definitely kept the whole package together thru the entire show.  Ronnie Romero knows his place in the band and on the stage. His way of singing the old gems did and created the justified feeling. It ain’t any unpleasant to compare Romero’s voice to Dio’s voice. The drummer David Keith is definitely skilled pro drummer, even though his habitus definitely made the eyeball roll of some fans. Apparently, Blackmore wasn’t pleased with the playing as he communicated with the band members several times and gave his signs and notifications through the show. The maestro himself definitely guided the band as the leader is supposed to do. The bassist’s Bob Nouveau desperate birthday wishes for Blackmore shared a sense of shame feeling as Blackmore couldn’t care less about it. Candice Night took care of the background vocals along with her co-singer. Her role in Rainbow a little different whereas she is the crucial part of Blackmore’s Night but she seemed to have a great time on stage.

 

 

The way how the concert ended up was a total bummer. The band just left the stage, as usual, the crowd expects to see they coming back and playing a few encores. Rainbow had played a couple of the Deep Purple songs as an encore on earlier Russian dates, but no not this time. Therefore missing the encore, “Black Night” and “Smoke on the Water” wasn’t that major blow.  However, the crowd was definitely genuinely disappointed about that. But obviously, the rest of the band were quite baffled while wondering about returning to the stage or not. Instead, Blackmore is known for being kind of moody personality.  When lights went on, the crowd’s reaction was puzzled and truly gutted, when booing and whistling.

The band didn’t offer and perform any gimmicks at the stage as the look of the construction of the stage was truly simple and reduced. It had to be pointed out and resembled the people had arrived to enjoy the show and songs; they definitely got them. It was definitely crucial for the 12.000 crowd to hear these old classics. The whole two-hour show was a pure nostalgia trip to celebrate the grand hymns of Rainbow and Deep Purple. This could be Blackmore’s last hooray to perform these songs from the past in front of thousands of people because of the time is passing by. Judging by the performance and historical aspect of Rainbow, this could be the most polite and sophisticated way to lay the legendary rock band on the rest permanently.

THE SET LIST

Spotlight Kid
I Surrender(Russ Ballard cover)
Mistreated(Deep Purple cover)
Since You Been Gone(Russ Ballard cover)
Man on the Silver Mountain(with a snippet of Deep Purple’s ‘Woman from Tokyo’)
Perfect Strangers(Deep Purple cover)
Sixteenth Century Greensleeves
Soldier of Fortune(Deep Purple cover) (Acoustic)
Difficult to Cure(with Happy Birthday song to… more )
All Night Long
Child in Time(Deep Purple cover)
Stargazer
Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
Burn(Deep Purple cover)

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RITCHIE BLACKMORE OFFICIAL WEBPAGE

MORE LIVE PICTURES FORM HELSINKI BY MARKO SYRJALA

 

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