At The Grand Opera House, York, U.K., June 12, 2007

Some bands are created to play in stadiums. Can you imagine Kiss playing in a small pokey hall? Others thrive in a sweatbox of a club. Would Fishbone be the same playing in a cavernous arena? Doubtful.

Blackmore’s Night were born to play in venues like The Grand Opera House. Set along the narrow, mazy, medieval streets of York, this ornate 19th century theatre, with its three tiers of balconies and private boxes overlooking the stage provided the perfect ambience for the evening’s revellery.

With ten years worth of material to play from, Blackmore’s Night releases along with some choice additions from the illustrious period of “BC” (Before Candy!!), there was plenty to keep the crowd enthralled over the course of the show.

“Under a Violet Moon” stomped along in rousing fashion while the delicious melody from “Play Minstrel Play” soared and weaved throughout the gilded theatre.

With a stage atmospherically lit against a backdrop of a Medieval marketplace complete and with the band in full period dress this is certainly a unique event. Candice Night is delightfully charming throughout and her endearing stage presence compliments her beautiful, siren like voice. Throughout the show she gently teases Blackmore about his age or goads him to “toot her horn!!” in a way no other singer in his previous bands would dare. Then again they are married!!

Blackmore himself looks so relaxed and appears more than anything to be having fun. He joins in the banter with the crowd, even handing out flagons of ale. Could you imagine this over 10 years ago? Blackmore has been cut free from the rigid restraints of a Rock band and can finally deliver the music that he truly loves. That’s not to say that he forgot about his past or ditched his Rock side altogether. A dramatic “Ariel” from his last incarnation of Rainbow was dark and brooding and saw Blackmore don his legendary white Strat. “Child in Time” took on a new life with Night accompanied by “The Twins” on backing vocals creating a dynamic take on the Deep Purple classic. “Soldier of Fortune” was simply stunning and if you didn’t know better, you’d have thought it was written just for Candice Night to sing. The same could be said of the Joan Baez classic “Diamonds and Rust” which was gorgeous as was the lilting beauty of “Still Remember You” which Night delivered to perfection.

“World of Stone” from the recently released Village Lantern album, with its rousing mid section, featured a fine array of Medieval instruments and the raucous “Home Again” even had the leather clad bikers up on their feet dancing. That in fact is one of the beauties of this show, there was such an array of people in the crowd from the die hard Rockers, to those of a more Classical inclination and those just up for a party, there was something for everyone.

Blackmore was obviously having a blast. This was clear from the encores which featured snippets of “Difficult to Cure” which included a fiery electric solo from Blackmore and some sublime slide work on “Blues”. Ever the entertainer, Blackmore dangled the tantalising riff from “Woman from Tokyo” before blasting into “Black Night” and finally into the full on “Smoke on the Water”. By this time the band had run 15 minutes over their “tight” schedule and as the final strains of the song resounded around the hall, the Theatre manager frantically tried to usher the crowd home. On an off night Blackmore refuses to play encores but tonight he simply couldn’t get enough and looked like he could have played on through the night.

It’s incredible to think that these gigs celebrated the 10th anniversary of Blackmore’s Night debut release Shadow of the Moon. 10 years is a long time for what was perceived as a vanity project, a flash in the pan and something to get out of Blackmore’s system before continuing down the Hard Rock road. There have been many snide comments in the Rock press towards Blackmore and his perceived abandonment of his Hard Rock roots but in all honesty his sincerity and obvious love for his art is such a refreshing change in these days of fake, plastic corporate puppets. The easy money spinning option would be to plod on with Deep Purple or head out on a reunion tour with Rainbow but all credit to Blackmore for sticking to his guns and maintaining his integrity with this honest, down to Earth performance. A capacity crowd, many in period costume, witnessed a fine evening’s entertainment from the merry minstrels of Blackmore’s Night.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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