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Europe 2006

Promotion shows for The Village Lanterne release at Cartouche Restaurant

Prauge, Czech Republic, 27 March, 1st night

Strange start to the show, with the Sisters of the Moon and Bard David doing a weird acapella version of the Olde English folk tune. Clock was a bit faltering, but picked up towards the end. Cartouche of course had to be played, and had a new start, that did not quite come off. In fact they spent a long sound check the next afternoon getting it right for the second show.

Shadow was great, really excellent solo from Ritchie. Quite why they don't play this more often is beyond me. Queen for a Day and Past Times gave the small audience a chance to join in. As did Old Mill Inn, which is full of humour. Long funny version, only spoiled by the phantom buzzing sound...Fan club organizers with Ritchie & Candice at Cartouche

Streets of London is done really well. You might not like them doing this song, but Candice really does sing it brilliantly. The whole majestic sweep of the band lifting the tune towards the end of the song really gets the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Bach Haus tonight is a bit subdued, but Diamonds again lifts the crowdand again Candice is excellent. More buzzing and annoying piped music bring things to a bit of a hiatus, and while this is being sorted Sisters of the Moon do their party piece. Home Again is pretty much like Olde Mill Inn, very long and funny. Sadly the next song, which I believe was going to be Mond Tanz, was never played. The pre amp on Ritchie's guitar gave up and died in a fit of buzzing. No more tonight sadly. The show was very intimate and quite relaxed. Sad that it ended the way it did.

Set List:

The Lion and the Unicorn (performed by Sisters of the Moon and Bard David), The Clock Ticks On, Cartouche, Shadow of the Moon, Queen for a Day, Past Times With Good Company, Olde Mill Inn, Streets of London, Durch Den Wald Zum Bachaus, Diamonds and Rust, Sisters of the Moon duet (Dome Pais), Home Again.

Kevin Dixon

Prauge, Czech Republic, 28 March, 2nd night

Much better show than the previous night, the technical gremlins cast into the swollen River Vltava. Starting with the newly rearranged version of Cartouche, followed by an energetic Queen for a Day. Then a small wait while the next song is decided. Ritchie opts to do 25 Years, Candice seems a bit hesitant at first but soon settles into the song, and it is fantastic. Stripped down from the album version, the song suddenly emphasises the fragility of the lyrics. Actually it is bit of an eye opener, because it sounds so much better done this way. Streets of London is again performed really well, the ending once again has the majestic sweep the carries all before it. Wind in the Willows is well received, lots of singing almost like the audience is singing the song for them at times. Same goes for Past Times, which gently segues into Child. The Sisters of the Moon are wonderful at this, the high falsetto singing over the bands rhythm at the climax of the song is stunning. I'm sure Ritchie kept this going for a few bars longer than normal, as if just to see how high they could sing.

A quick break gives Tudor Rose a chance show off, before the band return with Lorely, which seems a little bit subdued. Maybe wrong choice of song. A keyboard solo is followed by Bach Haus, which is quite good. Your can see the band building momentum again during the song. Olde Mill Inn is longer, funnier and better than the previous night. Seems like everyone in the venue gets a name check at some point during the song.

At some point during a show, regardless of how good or bad or indifferent the show is, you always know you will get that "moment". Well it arrived now, and it was truly awe inspiring. Everyone in the venue listened, and it really was the "moment". Nobody else has this ability, to construct a solo like this one. Such intricacy, yet so sound so simple and flowing. This solo was that good, one that I felt privileged to witness, it was watching a master at his craft. At the end he smiles and asks if I think it's ok. Damn near moved me to tears.Prague 30 April 2006 © Heiko Langner

Somehow the rest of the band regains the show with a wonderful version of Home Again. Complete with a little bit of Bach-Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring, from Ritchie in the middle. Bard David's drinking song, and the vampire impersonations. And after a few requests, Mid Winters Night, a song I really enjoyed and Dandelion Wine which finishes the show.

An excellent performance tonight, the band really excelling in the tight conditions and Candice singing exceptionally well, with lots of feeling in the vocal delivery. However the night belonged to Ritchie and that stunning solo during Fires.

Both nights were set in the marvellous Cartouche Restaurant, a wonderful atmospheric location that really helped to give the whole event a sense of occasion. There were quite a few journalists present on both nights, and film crews were there both nights as well. Indeed on the second night we had to go up and down the stairs into the venue quite a few times until they got whatever they wanted to get on film. It was nice to catch up with people again, some of whom I had not seen in 4 or 5 years, and especially pleasant to spend time with Richard Michels again. Many thanks to him for the seat up front.

However two people really have to thank more than anyone else, Mr.Garrett and especially Mr.Weaver my travel companions, for the good company.

Set List:

Cartouche, Queen for a Day, 25 Years, Streets of London, Wind in the Willows, Past Times With Good Company, Child in Time/Mond Tanz, Tudor Rose violin solo, Loreley, Bard David keyboard solo, Durch Den Wald Zum Bachaus, Olde Mill Inn, Fires at Midnight, Home Again, Mid Winter's Night, Dandelion Wine.

Kevin Dixon

Finlandia-Talo, Helsinki, Finland, 24 April

I was at the Helsinki show last night. It was a very good, if not excellent. With encore breaks, a two-hour show. Surprisingly (or then not...) low number of Village Lanterne tracks. I will post the Tampere set list later in the week (the show is tomorrow).

Intro tape: Old Mill Inn (sic!) Prague 30 April 2006 © Heiko Langner
Cartouche
Queen for a Day Pt. 1 & 2
Minstrel Hall (a person dressed as a bunny walked across the stage during the number - with the band (deliberately I'm sure) NOT paying attention - what the hell was that?)
Under a Violet Moon
Soldier of Fortune
Past Times in Good Company
Streets of London (much better than the studio version)
Bach Haus -> violin solo -> a manic classical piano solo (ending with Beethoven's Fifth and then straight into)
Ariel (one of the three highlights of the show. Superb version, one of the most epic and even "heaviest" takes I've heard. A long, "epic" electric solo by RB, the sound was soaked with the guitar synth sound, the solo was very much in the spirit of Stargazer and GOB - some slide, very few fast runs, it was masterly built.)
Home Again (another true highlight, lots of fooling around, both in terms of music and dance steps. Went down a storm.)
Renaissance Faire
Fires at Midnight (a great, more quiet version. Absolutely stunning long acoustic solo by RB. The third highlight of the show.)
Ghost of a Rose
Mond Tanz/Child in Time (I still didn't warm for this - or was warmed by it)
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Wish You Were Here / Midwinter's Night / Dandelion Wine (medley, and I don't like medleys. Midwinter a gem as always but truncated.)
Now and Then
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I Still Remember

Rezi


Pakkahouna, Tampere, Finland, 26 April

Intro tape: Old Mill InnPrague 30 April 2006 © Heiko Langner
Cartouche
Queen for a Day Pt. 1 & 2
Minstrel Hall (with the rabbit)
Under a Violet Moon
Soldier of Fortune (best version ever bar the DP original)
Bach Haus -> violin solo (up to this point, the same set)
Wind in the Willows
Past Times in Good Company
Child in Time - Mond Tanz (Unlike Monday, acoustic version. Mt as outro only) -> piano solo (Beethoven's Fifth ending)
Ariel (a long electric solo, but clearly less inspired than in Helsinki)
Mr. Peagram's Morris and Sword (RB was complaining about feedback now and then. At the start of this one he was trying to place the mic for the small instrument and commented "where's the rabbit when you need him!")
Home Again (a very long version)
Streets of London
Ghost of a Rose
Fires at Midnight
Clock Ticks On (with hurdy gurdy)
Renaissance Faire
------------
All for One
Difficult to Cure / St. Teresa

Not as good a show as the Helsinki. The electric guitar encores were an anti-climax; RB wasn't in the mood for soloing, but was in high spirits otherwise - clearly he enjoys playing acoustic much more. And I rather hear him play inspired acoustic than uninspired electric.

Rezi



Lucerna, Prague, Czech Republic, 30 April

First thing you have to say about this concert is that the Venue was quite simply stunning. Built in 1909, it doubles up as a cinema, but don’t let that put you off. You descend down 4 flights of marble stairs and turn the final corner into the most marvellous auditorium. Really does take you breathe away. Thankfully the concert itself managed to live up to the surroundings.Prague 30 April 2006 © Heiko Langner

It was clear from the start that the whole band was really up for the show and in a good mood. The first couple of songs flew by, and Violet Moon gave the enthusiastic crowd a chance to join in.

Thankfully we are spared the rabbit and get Peagrams instead, followed by a massive cheer as Soldier is played. The whole crowd sing along, which was very moving. Candice looked quite taken aback by the crowd singing along in the way they did. Bach Haus allows Tudor Rose to shine, and she delivers a
really moving version of the pastoral theme from Beethoven’s 3rd. And so we had our first request slot of the evening, finally Ritchie goes for Diamonds and Rust. Candice delivers a stunning vocal, I really struggle to think of a better version than the one they did tonight. Candice just got everything right and took the whole band along with her.

Past times and Streets are both done really well, you can feel the band building up for something, the dynamics of the show, are really pushing the performance along, urgently but not too forced. A short keyboard solo and Ritchie is out with the strat. A bit of a small hiccup at the start and then back on track and the solo soars away, jaws are dropping, older fans are nodding and grinning, the younger fans are awestruck. My original notes for Ariel simply read “WOW!!!!”. And that does not do the performance justice. The whole venue rises as one at the end of the song, Ritchie simply bows in gratitude and takes the acoustic guitar and straps it on.

Hang on he’s not taking the electric off yet. Two guitars, the electric slung over his back, he launches into Mond Tanz, and flows it up by discarding the acoustic to play Child in Time. He solos away in the background while the Sisters of the Moon get the high parts note perfect. Finally launching back into Mond Tanz on the electric. For the last two songs, the man just proved why we all go and see him.

Of course after something that intense a bit of fun is required and a lengthy falderee filled Home Again follows. Ritchie has the band stopping and starting all the time, trying to catch Candice out, which they do on several occasions. Several audience members come down the front to dance, adding to the atmosphere and spirit of the song. This is followed by a lengthy explanation about how Fires at Midnight was written about the band watching bonfires on the hills around Prague many years ago. And yet again Ritchie takes the solo and leaves the audience stunned. This acoustic solo just goes on and on, blending in elements of the riff along with I think some Bach. The audience is spellbound for the second time that night, and again rise as one at the conclusion. Candice even asks the audience to applaud Ritchie again when things have calmed down. The whole thing could easily have been spoiled at this point, as some Canadian manages to get right to the stage and shouts at Ritchie that he’s waited 30 years to see him and he had better play some more electric. Ritchie shouts back “30 years! Did you pay to get in?”. A quick change of mood and Renaissance Faire brings the main set to a close with much more dancing, eightsome reels, singing, and more dancing. The audience really gets into this. You suspected the mood might have been broken, the buffoon just might have screwed things up for everyone.Prague 30 April 2006 © Heiko Langner

However the Hurdy stool comes out, and Clock Ticks On is played at a breath taking pace, that gets faster and faster towards the end. Ritchie shakes hands and hands out more beer, then stands and has a look at his guitars. Walks off and the clunk of the strat being plugged in is heard. Out the walks and straight into All For One. Really hard version, very angry guitar work, and Candice really lets the voice rock out with this one. The solo is again top class material, and goes on and on. A short Beethoven’s 9th and we are into St.Theresa, not a great version, lacking some of the biting anger of the 97 versions. Ritchie and the band shake hands and go off, Candice is still shaking hands when they come back on again.
.
Another request, and someone a few rows back shouts out Bob Dylan. Ritchie nods and says yes. Good version as well, followed by Still Remember, which again has the crowd gently singing along. Ghost of a Rose sweeps the band majestically toward the finale of Wind in the Willows. I have never heard a crowd like this, they all sing along, they all know the words, incredible. The band love it. And line up at the end to say their thanks. It takes them a while to get off the stage as they thanks everyone at the front.

The show was about 2 hours 20 minutes long, and overall I must say it was very good indeed. I think partially inspired by the crowd. The mood in the theatre was very good and I think the band used that to their advantage. And despite Ritchie having two or three moments of true splendour, the whole band must really take credit for a tremendous show.


Kevin Dixon


 





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