In June 2016, Ritchie Blackmore made a lot of fans very happy by playing three rock concerts. The legendary guitarist retired from playing rock many years ago and since then has only played with his medieval band, Blackmore’s night. These shows then represented the first chance for an entire generation of fans to hear him playing the songs they grew up with, whether they’re Deep Purple classics, or Rainbow classics. With just three shows, two in Germany and one in the UK, fans from around the world travelled to Europe for this rare opportunity.
As a fan who was lucky enough to buy a ticket for the UK date before it sold out, I know the shows were fantastic. Beforehand there had been a lot of talk about his choice of an unknown singer for the shows rather than using a former Rainbow vocalist, but his choice of Ronnie Romero proved to be an insipred choice since the shows included songs made famous with vocals by Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner so any singer had to be versatile as well as talented.
Ronnie Romero proved to be a superb choice and did a fantastic job on vocals, and with more time on big stages is likely to become an even better performer. Obviously while the vocalist was important, what people wanted to know is whether or not Ritchie Blackmore was still able to play hard rock at 71 years of age. Well the simple answer is that yes he can, and I doubt a single person went away disappointed.
Since only a limited number of fans got to see the shows, I’m glad to see a DVD/BluRay/CD release coming out. This review is of the CD version, but after listening to it, I’ve already pre-ordered the BluRay.
“Memories in rock” really is a perfect name for this album – as someone who grew up listening to these songs, hearing them played live again brought back plenty of memories. Not getting to see Deep Purple play live until after Blackmore left was a big disappointment for me, so the UK date was my chance to finally see him performing some of my favourite songs live.
The first thing to note is the sound quality – crystal clear and perfectly mixed. There have been no shortcuts taken even though there has only been a gap of around 5 months between the shows and the CD release – so less than that for the team to get the recordings and video prepared to go into production.
The album kicks off with a Deep Purple classic – Highway star and with the guitar solo included it’s very clear that age hasn’t taken away Blackmore’s talent – he’s still one of the best rock guitarists ever, and Ronnie Romero belts out the vocals like a pro. From there it’s a non-stop ride through some of the best rock songs around, with Blackmore’s guitar and Romero’s vocals taking centre stage, and with a good band behind them consisting of David Keith (drums), Bob Nouveau (Bass), Stratovarius’s Jens Johanssen (Keyboards), and boacking vocals from Lady Lynn and Candice Night.
What else can I say really? If you were at one of the shows or have watched the inevitable clips on YouTube you’ll already know how good Blackmore was and how good his band was, so you’ll already know this release is one to appeal to all fans of Rainbow or Deep Purple. This is the best live release of the year as far as I’m concerned.
“Memories in rock – Live in Germany” will be released by Eagle Rock Entertainment on 18th November 2016
1. Highway star
2. Spotlight kid
4. 16th century greensleeves
5. Sine you been gone
6. Man on the silver mountain
7. Catch the rainbow
8. Difficult to cure (Beethoven’s ninth)
9. Perfect strangers
1. Long live rock’n’roll
2. Child in time/Woman from Tokyo
3. Black night
4. Smoke on the water
Bonus tracks from alternate night
5. Spotlight kid
6. Man on the silver mountain
7. Long live rock’n’roll
Pre-order the Bluray/DVD here