in Riga, Latvia, May 28, 2003 & Tallinn, Estonia May 29, 2003


Imagine that – Blackmore’s Night finally steps on Norwegian soil, and I am away for the Sweden Rock Festival… I almost changed my mind regarding that festival – I mean; Blackmore’s Night in MY neck of the wood, but after having done so every year (as something else always came up), I made plan B: Blackmore’s Night in Riga, Latvia and Tallinn, Estonia instead – then go to Sweden with a smile on my face.

In Riga, Ritchie Blackmore, his Master’s wife and their minstrels played the Congress Hall, a nice venue for a live concert of this kind, and lots of people anticipated their first ever visit to Latvia. A good part of the crowd was dressed up in medieval costumes and handing flowers to Candice and Master Darkness throughout the set. They opened the show with a new song, from the upcoming album “Ghost Of A Rose”, but quickly followed with “Play Minstrel Play” from the debut. The funny thing with seeing multiple shows with The Moody One and his beautiful better half is the way they (or more precisely; he) compose the setlist while the show goes on. There are 7-8 songs that make the backbone of the set, while the rest is simply improvised and very much depending on “someone’s mood”. A fine line of string instruments are lined up at stage left, and all the minstrels have to pay close attention to which one is picked for the next song. The famous white strat was picked up and His Royal Darkness had the listeners almost falling off their chairs in excitement, while he simply put it back in the rack and picked up something else to play… Whatever…
The Riga show was not the most memorable one I have seen with Blackmore’s Night. It was simply too short (in a Blackmore’s Night context). The beautiful “I Still Remember” ended the set after a couple of highlights such as “Fires At Midnight” and “Soldier Of Furtune” (I guess we all know the rumor now…). The band came back for an encore which to me either is a fun song or something off the next album (or both, in fact). Merely 80 minutes after the band took the stage, they left the Riga crowd wanting more. Although a good show (as long as it lasted), I think someone in particular just wasn’t in the right mood this evening…

The next day, for the first time in the medieval capital of Estonia, Tallinn, the show was held in an outdoor part of a monastery, Pirita Klooster. Another short one, I thought to myself when the weather got chilling, but no – the Dark One was in the mood tonight, even in Fender mood. A good two hours set, maybe to see how patient the crowd could get in the cold, and of course a setlist with more goodies than the night before, the highlight of the evening was without doubt the band’s version of “Diamonds And Rust”, also included on the upcoming CD. (Rob Halford and Ripper; eat your hearts out!) Pure magic! Another evening of improvisations, more than the night before, Candice sometimes introduced songs before looking over her shoulder only to find out that her Maestro had changed the plans… again. A little marriage scene was when Candice told her husband not to stand behind her; “You never know what he’s up to!” “Village In The Sand” saw the violinist go nuts, and even the keyboard minstrel had his spot to shine while the man in black made up his mind.

Yeah, Ritchie (I’ll call him that for once), was in the electric mood in Tallinn. “16th Century Greensleeves” was included in the main set, while that encore also played in Riga included the white strat as well. But the band came back for more and delivered what seemed to be a very spontaneous “Black Night”, with an extensive solo part by you know who in the middle. If I am not totally wrong, he teased us with the riff from “Burn” as well. It sure looks easy to play guitar when you see Blackmore do it, nothing seems challenging for this wiz, but those who have tried know better. One thing is sure though, he still knows how to treat the white Fender, so if anyone believes he’s out on a medieval trip because he’s not into or capable of a little trip down Memory Lane, you are so dead wrong.

Thinking about it, Sweden Rock Festival better be a good one, as Blackmore’s Night is one of those rare artists you can see night after night without growing tired of it. You really should try one day…


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