At The Hydro, Glasgow, U.K., June 25, 2017

RAINBOW (Live at The Hydro, Glasgow, U.K., June 25, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Many of us never dreamed that it would ever happen again. The mere thought of Ritchie Blackmore laying down is lute and return to full on Hard Rock was little more than a pipe dream with memories of his ground playing fretwork with Deep Purple and Rainbow confined to the grooves on a record.

Yet for one brief moment, well three in fact, Blackmore announced his return to the Hard Rock stage with three exclusive sold out shows one of which was at the Genting Arena in Birmingham. Over 20 years since his last UK performance Blackmore with his new Rainbow line up featuring Chilean singer Ronnie Romero defied the critics and triumphantly delivered a set of classic songs from across his career. Surely he couldn’t leave it at that could he? He is his own man and Blackmore does what Blackmore wants. Clearly taken aback at the reaction he received he announced a series of shows across the UK.

Although rumours had been circulating for some time, no doubt fuelled by Joe Lyn Turner’s not so subtle hints, that Blackmore was preparing to return to Rock albeit briefly it never actually happened. However, when it did, it was not with Turner but Romero. Blackmore has something of a knack in discovering singers just look at Ronnie James Dio and David Coverdale for instance, not a bad record of achievement there? Last year’s shows proved that Blackmore had chosen wisely yet again as Lords of Black frontman, Romero more than lived up to expectations.

The Hydro is fast becoming one of THE venues for arena shows in the UK, designed specifically with acoustics in mind and ensuring all fans get a decent view and certainly a big step up from those awful tin sheds that popped up in the ’90s. The place was packed to the rafters and more than ready to welcome Blackmore back into the Rock fold.

With the traditional opener “Over The Rainbow” echoing around the hall it was straight into “Spotlight Kid” followed by the riff heavy “Man on The Silver Mountain.”

Romero looked confident in his role alongside Blackmore and handled the vintage Rainbow cuts delivered so perfectly by Dio all those years ago. His range, tone and delivery really suited those classics with “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves” and “Mistreated” being particularly impressive.

Blackmore himself looked a lot more relaxed than he did at last year’s show in Birmingham. Maybe the band had more time to prepare or maybe the nerves of returning to Rock had now vanished but he played with a renewed vigour and passion old. His solo during “Difficult To Cure” was breath-taking.

Although Blackmore promised a greater balance of Rainbow material, his days in Deep Purple were not forgotten with the likes of “Perfect Strangers” and a truly beautiful acoustic rendition of “Soldier Of Fortune” showing two contrasting sides of the Purple catalogue. Romero again stepped up and impressively handled the parts originally performed by Gillan and Coverdale really showing his versatility as a singer.

Of course they had to play the hit singles too meaning “Since You Been Gone,” “All Night Long” and “I Surrender” got an airing but it was the presence of the big hitters “Stargazer” and “Child In Time” side by side that almost had grown men weeping. Talk about diamond encrusted classics performed by the Man in Black himself.

Alas no “Catch The Rainbow” this time but the potential disappointment was compensated by a wonderful rendition of “Temple of the King” which turned out to be one of the major highlights of an evening of highlights.

After almost 2 hours it was all over but what a show. A killer set list and a performance to match. Blackmore is back with a new version of Rainbow and after tonight’s show one can only hope that there is some new material on the horizon as the prospect of Blackmore writing with Romero is certainly an enticing prospect.

Review and Photos by Mick Burgess


  • 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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