Rainbow - Live In Birmingham 2016

by Morley Seaver

Finally, the moment all Ritchie Blackmore fans have been yearning for, a return to the hard rock arena for the Man in Black. Last year, Blackmore felt a need to revisit part of his legacy as one of the finest hard rock guitarists to ever grace the instrument. A new version of Rainbow was assembled and several one-off concerts were held in the UK and Europe.

Joining Blackmore was vocalist Ronnie Romero, drummer David Keith, bassist Bob Nouveau, keyboardist Jens Johanssen as well as Candice Night and Lady Lynn on backing vocals. This two-CD live set comes solely from the Birmingham show and contains material from almost all of the Rainbow records. Of course, to a lot of people, the brightest color in the Rainbow is Purple and Ritchie's contributions to that band are on full display in this concert.

The band starts things off on a fast pace on the first disc with a lively version of "Highway Star" where Johanssen shines on a ferocious organ solo and Ritchie does some tasty noodling. Romero definitely has a voice and with an edge to it sounds closer to Graham Bonnet in many cases.

"Spotlight Kids" keeps the pace going, setting up the more deliberate mood of "Mistreated" which features a lengthy Blackmore solo. The more radio-friendly "Since You've Been Gone" goes down well as does the very first Rainbow song, "Man on the Silver Mountain" where Romero recalls moments of Dio at times.

Romero sounds best on the absolutely gorgeous "Soldier of Fortune" where his voice fits the beautiful melody like a glove. The moment is mirrored by the equally impressive "Catch the Rainbow". The band gets a bit of a showcase with "Difficult to Cure" allowing each member to get some time in the spotlight (kids).

Disc two is stacked with Purple material. A very nice "Perfect Strangers", a restrained but powerful version of "Child in Time" and a well-received version of "Black Night" (with several lines from "Woman From Tokyo") delight the crowd. "Burn" is performed well but Romero doesn't sound in key for much of it. The mighty "Stargazer" and "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" are both solid cuts, The show ends (of course) with the staple "Smoke on the Water" sending the fans home happy.

Altogether this is a good, if unspectacular, record. Perhaps since English is a second language to the Italian-born Romero is the reason for very little chatter in between songs or maybe he was just deferring to Blackmore but the concert comes off a little staid with the lack of interaction. And I hate to nit-pick on a legend but there was no fire behind Blackmore's playing. The material was played well but with no extra torque behind it which I expected after such a long time away from publicly playing this material.

At any rate, "Live in Birmingham 2016", is a great reminder of someone who set the standard for hard rock and heavy metal today with a truckload of riffs and anthems. Long live Ritchie Blackmore!!

Get your copy here.

Rainbow - Live In Birmingham 2016

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