Review - Blackmore's Night - Edinburgh Queens Hall - 25th Oct 2005

  • 18 years.

    That's how long it had been since I had last seen Ritchie Blackmore in concert. My favourite guitarist (no, musician) ever, and I'd missed every chance to see him in the intervening years. Rainbow had played a mere two UK dates supporting SIUA (both in London), and the only Blackmore's Night Scottish gig to date had been cancelled two years ago. And as for JLT-era DP - I'd stupidly missed that one on a point of principle.

    So to say I was looking forward to this gig would be a huge understatement.

    Having a scant knowledge of Edinburgh at best, I printed a map from the Queens Hall website. "Ha - looks fairly simple" I thought, "should be there in ample time". I arrived at the general area of the venue at about 7:35. Half an hour later, I had driven round the same streets at least 10 times without success. Edinburgh is officially the most confusing city I have navigated. Map discarded, I abandoned the car in a dark back street and set off on foot. 5 minutes later, thanks to some friendly natives, I was in the hall. Des Geyers had just finished their set, much to my annoyance. After having had a quick glance at the merchandise, I took my place - 5 rows back, stage right.

    There were a lot of empty seats around about me, most of which remained unfilled. The brave souls in costumery occupied the front 3 rows. Selections from the new BN album were played on the PA, although it was all familiar material - Call My Name, Old Mill Inn (gulp!). The stage was adorned with hay bales and rustic scenery.

    Finally the lights went down, the keyboard player played a low drone, and Ritchie appeared on stage, playing a few choice notes through the guitar synth which led into Morning Star. The sound was fairly good, apart from Ritchie - who was very low in the mix for the first part of the gig. Queen For A Day allowed the band to show off in the fast "Part 2" section. Under A Violet Moon provided a chance for some crowd interaction on the "oi's". Soldier Of Fortune was beautifully played (Ritchie's solo especially), although as always I find Candice's phrasing on this song a bit off-putting. The theme from "Waiting Just For You" preceded Past Times With Good Company.

    I'd read mixed reports of BN's version of Child In Time, but it is surprisingly powerful. The Sisters Of The Moon took the Gillan screams, although not attempting to go up as many octaves, and it's very effective.

    Durch Dem Wald Zum Bach Haus, one of my favourite BN instrumentals, provided a platform for violinist Tudor Rose to take the spotlight - very talented she is too.

    Next, Candice introduced an old English Folk Song which is to be on the new album. It transpires to be a very delicate version of Streets of London. Love it or hate it on record, Home Again is just a great live song. Then Fires At Midnight, with an excellent meandering acoustic solo.

    Wind In The Willows is my least favourite BN song [or was until 'Old Mill Inn' :)], but comes over much better live.

    Candice introduced Mr Peagram's Morris and Sword as being about one of Ritchie's old teachers, although "Ritchie spent most of his time in the headmaster's office". Something went astray in the middle of this instrumental between Ritchie and bass player/guitarist Sir Robert, but they swiftly got things back on track. A man in a brown rabbit costume then walked across stage, no-one batting an eyelid. Maybe this was to distract from the cock-up!

    Next Ritchie took a request for Ghost Of A Rose, before Renaissance Faire got the crowd going again. A superb version of The Clock Ticks On saw Des Geyers take to the stage to parp away.

    Encore time, and Ritchie came back on with the white Stratocaster, to much applause, launching into Ariel. Quite different rhythmically to the SIUA version, and featuring some stunning electric work from Ritchie.

    All For One, again on the electric (and featuring Des Geyers) was equally good.

    The night was rounded off quietly with a medley of Midwinter's Night and Dandelion Wine.

    So, was it worth the wait? Yes. Candice's vocals were very good, the band were excellent (especially keyboards (Bard David) and bass (Sir Robert)) and Ritchie was on extremely good form. Low in the mix to start off with, but he played some beautiful acoustic intros. I know the Strat (when it appears!) is an important part of the gigs to a lot of people, but to be honest I found the acoustic work equally stunning. Melodic, with flair and invention, and some humour - it had it all. Best guitar playing I've seen live for, um, must be about 18 years... :)

    No photos, unfortunately. The notices on display made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that photography was discouraged. Not wanting to get water flung at me, I obeyed ;)

  • Interesting yeah their site used to say "only disposable cameras allowed" at least they've removed that. When I went to see them in Feb they still had that sign up and then I got to the gig and no photography was allowed at all. I sent an email to Carole stating I was quite unhappy with them leaving that notice up on the site. When I went two years ago....there was no address for the venue so I also had to ask around and drive around trying to figure out where the gig was. I think that was one of Ritchie's tricks.


    John

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