A couple of notes about the Philly show. Small
theatre, nice choice for a BN show. There was a pub right next
door, serving good
beer – they had Chimay on tap!!!! Huzzah! It was my first
time in Philly, I enjoyed it very much – good city, lively,
good people, and except for all the one way streets (can’t
get there from here). The sold out show had people coming from
all over, I met folks from Canada, Ohio, Minn., upstate NY, England,
and Japan. The stage was wide, allowing for many front row seats.
There were enough people dressed in costume that the preferential
seating extended many rows back from the stage. The night began
with two bagpipe players roaming the theatre, setting the mood
and whetting the audience anticipation. The support act, Wyndfall
took the stage, a 3 piece group (gtr/vocals, flute, cello) who
were obvious fans of Jethro Tull, played through a 30 minute
set of fine songs filled with tawdry stories and commendable
solos from the flute and cello. The time had come for BN, anticipation
ran high. Ritchie came on playing the guitar synth intro to Way
To Mandalay as the band assembled on stage, then broke into Cartouche
(a great opener) and Candice took the stage with the crowd loudly
greeting her presence. Ritchie was in a great mood, interacting
with the audience, and played magnificently from start to finish.
Candice was in fine form, commanding the front-person role with
skill, strength, and confidence.
The band played through several acoustic songs – Cartouche,
Play Minstrel Play, Minstrel Hall, Soldier Of Fortune – all
the while Ritchie was switching guitars, joking and talking to
the fans, handing out beers. The music flowed very well, the band
very together, very tight. They played Diamonds And Rust, and Candice
sang it with perfection, very strong and confident – all
the emotion and passion in her voice coming right through the speakers
and into your heart. She is a Class A performer. As we wiped the
tears from our eyes, a young lad in the front row presents Candice
with her first of many bouquets of flowers. Ritchie threw on the
strat, and it was time for 16th Century Greensleeves – much
to the crowds delight – there’s no denying that Ritchie
is in a class by himself when he plays his strat – there
are no peers – no one talks with guitar the way he does.
Greensleeves was played strong and true, Candice and the Sisters
of the Moon providing great vocals. Ritchie played a great solo,
extending it a bit from some of the other shows I’ve seen.
He even got down and his knees and wiped the guitar up, giving
the fans the exciting show they came for. After Greensleeves, as
the crowd settled their heartbeats back down, they played through
Under A Violet Moon, the crowd singing along in fine fashion. Mr.
Peagram’s Morris and Sword was flawless, then came Village
On The Sand with Ritchie starting the song on mandolin – which
is a perfect touch for that song, it sounds much better on mandolin.
Suddenly, in the middle of the song, Ritchie hands me the mandolin
and tells me to keep playing. I stand in the front row – playing
mandolin and he picks up his strat and goes through his solo and
the rest of the song with his strat. I can’t quite describe
how much of a treat it was to play along with them on his mandolin.
Somebody pinch me!!!
I give the mandolin back (but not the pick),
and the show proceeded. At this point I lose track of which songs
were played when (wouldn’t
you?), but they played through Renaissance Faire, Past Time, a
well received Home Again, The Clock Ticks On – with the bagpipe
players joining them halfway through the song. Then they played
Ghost Of A Rose, which is such an awesome song done live – so
epic and emotional – the drums rise and fall through the
changes to bring strength to the song that is not present in the
recorded version. The backing vocals are chilling and Candice sings
the story so well you become part of the tale.
Through the several encores that night Ritchie
treated the crowd to more strat playing, flowing through Rainbow
To Cure, All For One, Writing On The Wall – piano solo intro.
All For One really goes over well live, a great crowd sing-along,
clapping and stomping, etc. Rainbow Blues was recognized immediately,
the crowd roaring with the first notes. Late into the night Ritchie
asks the audience what they want to hear – and he goes into
Beyond The Sunset, complete with a great intro. The song is so
beautiful, and settles everyone down from all the electric excitement.
They end the show with Now And Then, and proceed to shake hands
and sign autographs and visit with the audience.
The show was awesome, and went well over two
hours. All of the many styles Ritchie does/has done were covered,
and this version
of Blackmore’s Night – the tightest and best version
yet – were victorious! As new shows are added in the near
future, you guys/gals have got to find your way there and see this
show – you will not be disappointed.
Long Live Blackmore’s Night, and Long
Live King Ritchie,
Ahh yes, Westbury Music Faire show on Friday
9/19 – after
somehow skirting the fury of the storm Isabelle, I’m anxious
to see Blackmore’s Night in their homecoming appearance.
As always, each concert is also an adventure in the venue itself;
they always find these great places – with their own character
and some special quality.
A short taxi ride from the train station and
to this unassuming place, tucked away down the hill and off of
the street – only a sign on the front of the building to
indicate I’m even in the right place. No Marquis, no signs,
posters, ads, anything that says Blackmore’s Night – hmmmm.
From the outside, this venue looks like nothing special – but
the night has not yet begun!
Arriving at 4:30, I go around to the stage
entrance and meet a couple from Toronto and two others that were
hanging out. About
30 minutes later, Ritchie and Candice arrive – Ritchie goes
straight inside and Candice comes out to greet the fans and sign
autographs. A few minutes later, Ritchie comes out and visits the
fans – much to the delight of these dedicated people that
came so far for the show. With the greetings and hello’s
done, there’s a few hours to kill – but there are no
restaurants or pubs in the vicinity; only a deli to bide the time – eating
and drinking beer.
Fast forward to 7:30. The crowd, this amazing
crowd begins to arrive – so many in costumes it is truly inspirational! Even
the guy from Japan is in costume (can you believe it?). Blackmore’s
Night music is playing in the parking lot, radio station van parked
by the door. Visiting with Richard Michaels out front, we both
look around and just say “Wow, this is great!”. The
fans that showed up were fantastic. The doors opened and we go
inside – this very ordinary building took on a whole new
life, it was splendid on the inside. A theatre in the round (tonight
in the half-round), with steep amphitheatre like seating – every
seat was a good seat. The bagpipe players began this enchanted
night, strolling about the theatre playing the mood setting songs.
The support act followed, Wyndfall, a very Jethro Tull-ish act
consisting of guitar/singer, flute player, and cello player. The
audience appreciated their music and applauded them much more so
than the Philly show 2 days prior. Their songs were highlighted
by great solos on the cello, and excellent flute playing. The vocalist
had a great voice and sang their tawdry songs very well, weaving
the storylines and melodies through the chord progressions nicely.
Their 35 minute set ended and was congratulated loudly by the audience
on a job well done.
The time had come, Blackmore’s Night was soon to take the
stage and the anticipation could be felt throughout the theatre.
During the stage change, Geyers music was playing over the sound
system – what a fitting prelude!
I had an unbelievable front row seat, in the
orchestra pit right in front of Ritchie’s mandolin microphone, only one foot
from the edge of the stage – which was knee high when I was
sitting down. There were four front row seats on Ritchie’s
side of the stage. Beside me sat the Japanese couple (in costume!)
and Ian, who had flown from England for the shows. I cannot thank
Carole enough for this dream-like seat. I stood up and looked around.
The theatre was packed, no empty seats – except for the sections
around the sides of the stage (obstructed views). Now it’s
Ritchie comes on the side of the stage, with
the lights still out, and hooks up his guitar – people are murmuring but wait
for the lights to come on. He takes the stage and begins with the
synth intro the Way To Mandalay, and everyone lets loose – cheering
and greeting him after waiting so long to see him again. The band
takes the stage as Ritchie plays on, and when all are ready they
break into Cartouche – the crowd clapping to the up-tempo
beat. Candice takes the stage and again everyone on their feet
cheering and greeting her. As they play through Cartouche I’m
just floored at how great this venue is, so intimate and close,
nothing like my first impression outside. The first song ends,
and the audience goes crazy, cheering and screaming their greetings
so loudly for so long Candice doesn’t know what to think.
Sir Robert leans over to her and says in her ear “Welcome
Home” (see how intimate it was, I could hear him talk in
her ear). The audience was very happy to see them and shared their
appreciation in awesome fashion. Candice thanks them and proceeds
with saying hello to all.
They continue the show with Play Minstrel
Play, Minstrel Hall, Bach Haus, Soldier Of Fortune…..Candice sang wonderfully,
Ritchie was in a great mood and handed out beers and said hello
to folks. The audience was amazing, so enthusiastic and supportive!
At about the 4th or 5th song, Ritchie said “What do you want
to hear?”. Loud calls came for Loreley and Ritchie thought
about it for a while. Candice said “Well, we’re going
to play the one song that nobody asked for” as they went
into Avalon – and it sounded great – good choice by
Ritchie. For the next song, Ritchie put on the strat – to
the sheer delight of the crowd – and they played 16th Century
Greensleeves. Ritchie played a long solo this time. Like an everyready,
he just kept going and going – signaling the band to continue
- he seemed to be ready to let it rip for a while – and he
did. As the song ended, the audience stood on their feet and loudly
thanked Ritchie & company.
The band was tight and in good spirits as
they continued through Under A Violet Moon and Diamonds And Rust – Candice does
this song so well, supported by chilling backing vocals taking
care of the space filled by Ritchie’s slide playing on the
CD. Next was Mr. Peagram’s Morris and Sword, and as Ritchie
played with impeccable skill, I sat there not 2 feet away in awe.
Village On The Sand came next, Ritchie starting the song on mandolin
and switching to strat halfway through. Candice got the audience
involved with singing the chorus line with the band silent….she
came out into the audience with the microphone and cheered everyone
on, it was great! I Still Remember was next and I thought of Rainer,
how I wish he could’ve been there. They did a great version,
with Ritchie strumming the chords unbelievably fast during the
bridge, so fast that Robert smiled and watched with joy. More songs
followed….Renaissance Faire, The Clock Ticks On, and Ghost
Of A Rose. I get chills and goose bumps everytime I see them play
this song….so emotional…..so intense….so epic.
The entire band….everyone’s part is so important to
the song….and they all rose to the occasion. At this point
in the show…the audience no longer willing to stay in their
seat, fill the aisle – wanting to get closer, cheer louder
and longer with every song. The crowd was spell-struck, and at
that moment in love with the moment – it was a special night
indeed!!!!!! Flowers began to make their way to Candice, and bouquet
after bouquet was given to her, especially one with White Roses.
Ritchie got into his zone and became more and more into the music.
Next came some electric songs…All For One, which went over
very well….the audience singing along. There was a treat
for us in All for One….Ritchie played the intro melody with
his fingers on the second time through…including the lick
that is on the CD version (yes! I got to see him play it!!!!).
As the song ended and roars came from the crowd, the front area
around the stage becoming now quite crowded, Ritchie plays the
first two notes for Difficult To Cure….then….something
catches his ear from the side of the stage. He exits, and the band
follows. The audience holds firm, clapping and shouting for more.
Time goes by……one minute….two minutes… three…… then
in complete surprise the house lights come on and the Red Baron
song comes on…..the show is over - to the dismay of the crowd.
The show ended prematurely it seems, only one encore.
I don’t think Ritchie was ready for it to end, he wasn’t
done for the night. Something seems to have happened, and it was
over. Even with this happening, the buzz around the audience hanging
around the venue was electrifying…..all very pleased by what
they just experienced, and intimate night with Blackmore’s
Night. The music was so great, Ritchie’s playing was so inspired – especially
his strat playing, and Candice sang like she was singing to each
person – touching all in a personal way. Despite the unexpected
end to the show, everyone was very satisfied.
After talking with some key folks afterwards, found out a couple
of interesting bits:
1) Sound System Problems – The venue, due to some sort of
labor union rules or the like, originally insisted that BN use
the house PA system. The sound crew had to spend the time hooking
up the sound to the house PA and the BN PA to convince the venue
staff that they couldn’t possibly use the house PA because
it was not good enough. Once they were given the go ahead to use
the BN PA, they had to go about getting the BN PA ready for the
show. The trials and tribulations of behind the scene maneuvers!!!!!
2) The Show Ended a Little Premature – Apparently, there
was some misunderstanding (and miscues) regarding the curfew (who
the hell invented this curfew thing, anyway). The curfew was fast
approaching, but there was a little more time. A cue was given,
meant to convey approx. 10 minutes left – but it brought
the show to a halt. A little confusion, words, etc – Ritchie
got upset, headed straight to the car….and BAM……show’s
over!!! Again, the complexities that go on behind the scenes. Well,
no one said it was easy!
All in all, a great show, great night, great
its image from the exterior (there was not a single Blackmore’s
Night poster or ad of any kind). But there was no after party at
all…..the night was DONE.
Cheers to all,