If I’m high on a hill
She’d still been looking down at me
Hector has always said that, no matter where in the World, if Ritchie Blackmore reformed – Rainbow – he will be there. The Gigs were announced at the end of last year, I immediately booked a room at the Stuttgart Ibis, just to make sure I had a bed. This Gig is one of three: last night at Loreley, St. Goarshausen and two weeks from now in Birmingham. The people selling the tickets at Birmingham appeared to have been running a racket, sell the tickets to themselves then charge multiple times the face value. Only in the last few weeks have I seen Birmingham Tickets on sale at face value. For tonight’s gig at the Festplatz am Viaduct, Bietigheim-Bissingen (Stuttgart) the ticket agents posted my ticket then asked for the money to be transferred.
I have always wished to attend the annual Loreley Prog Rock Festival, but transport and accommodation are an issue. I need to talk to someone who has been to find out how it works. Hire a car?
Bietigheim-Bissingen is twenty five minutes by S Bahn outside of Stuttgart, at least there should be trains back, but what happens if thousands descend upon the same platform? We arrived at B-B at 17.30, and initially followed the crowd, behold the posters, at regular intervals, pointing the way to the Festplatz am Viaduct. Thin Lizzy were due on stage at 17.45, they started two minutes early. The Boys are back in Town.
Eight short lines permitted access to the site. Every bag was searched, except Jonathan’s. I was happy when I had to produce the solid object in mine, my big backup phone battery.
We stood for a good twenty minutes waiting for Jim and Aileen and their München Friends to join us. Some required Bier. Becks is all there was. No Bier for Hector, who would want Becks anyway?
We stood on the path for all of the Thin Lizzy set. At one point Robert and I thought that we were all moving down the slope to get closer to the stage, nobody joined us, back we went. Jim and Robert were quite disparaging about Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, I was determined to get a better view. I have Earth Band CDs and saw them in 1973 at the London Music Festival (Alexandra Palace) with The Gary Moore Band, and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (terrible) all supporting Uriah Heep. FYI – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band was also Marg’s first Gig sometime in the 1980s.
Marg and I saw Blackmore’s Night years ago In Edinburgh, a small audience, all waiting for the Stratocaster to appear. We were not disappointed.
Scott Gorham carries the name, yet he is not an original member. Gary Moore was there once too.
The vocalist/guitarist is from Belfast, so there was some sort of Irish connection to justify playing the Irish Folk Music which Phil Lynott made popular around the World.
You guessed, I’m not a particular fan of Thin Lizzy, I have considered buying Live and Dangerous, maybe after this Gig I finally should. A Covers Band playing Thin Lizzy songs was our conclusion. The were tight, sounded good, the obvious tracks were recognised. The Band lineup: Guitars – Scott Gorham & Damon Johnson, Lead Vocals – Ricky Warwick, Keyboards – Darren Wharton, Bass – Tom Hamilton (Aersomith), Drum – Scott Travis (Judas Priest).
Sources confirm the set list: Jailbreak, Are you ready, Killer on the loose, Dancing in the moonlight, Massacre, Angel of death, Waiting for an alibi, Emerald, Rosalie, Bad reputation, Don’t believe a word, Cowboy song, The boys are back in town, Roisin Dubh, Whiskey in the jar.
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
I managed to get within six rows of the barrier separating the front section of the crowd from the rear. I was level with the Sound/Camera Tower, close enough. The Crowd numbered in the thousands, Jonathan reckoned twelve thousand, most were mature adults. It was just my luck when the Biggest Prick in Deutschland took up position not beside me, or in front of me, but half on my spot. I decided not to have a Sheldon-esque moment.
With a Jug of Becks, he looked throughout Manfred Mann set to his rear left, was he The Show? He thought so. Chatter, chatter, chatter, why bother coming? Oh, he’s paying attention now, gyrations, talk about invading one’s space? I was not a Happy Hector.
A space opened up six to my right when a Chap puked over all around him. Welcome to Germany!
It’s just as well that Ladies are always armed with tissues.
Manfred Mann and Mick Rogers are the only surviving members of the original Earth Band. That a Vocalist started things off puzzled, Mick handled all the vocals when I last saw them. All became clear, The Big Earth Band Songs were sung by Mick, it was evident that his voice would not have survived the set had he tried to do all. Anyway, he had some excellent guitar work to play. Manfred was front stage with his Portable Keyboard when the arrangement permitted it. The cameras caught the keyboard work at other times, the large screens were very efficient despite the fact that the sun was shining directly on them.
Nightingales and Bombers is my standout MMEB album, they played nothing from this. In the allotted hour they managed to fit in the Springsteen/Dylan songs that Manfred Mann made his own. Is the Earth Band a Covers Band? By the set chosen tonight, well yes. The Drummer looked uncannily like Ritchie Blackmore. (A Chap on the S Bahn earlier was the image of my fabled German relative, I kid you not.)
Once more, Sources give the set list: Captain Bobby Stout, Martha’s Madman, Father of Day Father of Night, For You, Blinded by the Light, Hit the Road Jack, Davy’s on the Road again, Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn). I recall a piece of Joybringer being incorporated into one of the keyboard breaks.
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow
During the change of gear, I managed to shake off the Nutter and moved another metre closer. I was now a Happy Hector. Uriah Heep’s – Lady in Black, plus Henrix’s – Hey Joe both featured during the change over. Blackmore has covered both of these, the Deep Purple version of Hey Joe is way better, IMHO, Jon Lord on Organ!
Land of Hope and Glory blared out of the impressive PA, the Locals may not have realised the significance. I was standing with Germans, Russians, Finns and a Chap who said he was an American, from the USA then? The Geography Teacher (retired) will always be pedantic, there is no such place as – America.
The sound of Judy Garland accompanied The Musicians taking their places on stage, finally – The Man in Black. Cue the Power Chords – Somewhere over the rainbow…
The set list from last night was already known to us, thirteen songs, a couple I would not have chosen, but The Hits have to be played, especially in an event such as this.
Highway Star began with minimal Guitar, vocals leading. We all know the magnificent fretboard sounds at the start of Made in Japan, you either repeat this exactly or do something totally different. I walked out of a Deep Purple Gig once when Tommy Bolin made a total hash of this song.
Accompanying The World’s Greatest Guitarist this evening were: Vocals – Ronnie Romero (Lords of Black), Keyboards – Jens Johansson (Stratovarius), Bass – Bob Nouveau (ex-Blackmore’s Night), Drums – David Keith (Blackmore’s Night), Backing Vocals – Candice Night (Blackmore’s Night) and presumably the other Lady from Blackmore’s Night.
The setlist: Highway Star (Deep Purple), Spotlight Kid (Rainbow), Mistreated (Deep Purple), Sixteenth Century Greensleeves (Rainbow), Since You’ve been gone (Rainbow) . Man on the Silver Mountain (Rainbow), Difficult to Cure (Deep Purple), Catch the Rainbow (Rainbow), Perfect Strangers (Deep purple), Stargazer (Rainbow), Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (Rainbow), Child in Time (Deep Purple), Black Night (Deep Purple), Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple), one song more than last night at the Loreley. It was dry tonight, apparently the crowd was soaked last night. We were prepared.
Taking the stage in twilight, the 21st Century Rainbow lighting effects impressed immediately and only became better as darkness fell. The sound was perfect, the Hammond (?) organ and Fender Strat recreating the familiar grinding sounds that Deep Purple in particular, were noted for.
One has to wonder if Jens Johansson had to work all this out for himself, or are all of the keyboard settings noted? The heaviest organ sound was during his keyboard solo, it was interesting when the camera closed into reveal it was the synthesiser which was creating this magnificent sound.
Ronnie Romero looked the part. Hector had wondered about the lyrics, which version of the Rainbow songs would be sung. Ronnie James Dio added improvised vocals to the extended endings, thankfully this Ronnie was up for it.
An hour into the set and Hector had a problem. Having stood in the Hector at a Rock Gig stance for approaching three hours, the legs had seized. When I wiggled my toes my head started to go. If The Hector did not get out of here, he would be carried out. Those around me looked mystified as I made my way to the tower. Behind the tower I realised I needed to go for a walk and get the circulation going. Those who I was notionally with this evening spotted the yellow polo shirt, I knew where to return to.
Difficult to Cure had ironically just got underway, Coke, the great cure-all, not available. Bier, not required. Eis Cafe, this should have caffeine and sugar. Returning to Les Autres, Jim was horrified when I suggested I would have – to dance – for the rest of the Gig. By this it was keep the legs, feet and toes all moving. It was touch and go. Jonathan knew he would be suffering when it was time to walk back to the station. This was a good time for a timeout, the drum solo.
Stargazer was played earlier than anticipated, a much slowed down version. Child in Time too felt slowed down. Ritchie loves to play quietly, at volume, mesmerising. Smoke on the Water was the inevitable encore, again starting without – the riff. Fireworks accompanied the chorus, then the first drops of rain, just a few.
The walk back for the delayed train featured audio snippets of the Gig, how many people had recorded minute segments or more? The DVD should be out hopefully before the year is over. 12,000 people, where had they gone? Those waiting for the 23.35 all squeezed on at midnight.
I first saw Ritchie Blackmore on Deep Purple’s Made in Japan Tour, and half a dozen times thereafter as Rainbow, then again Deep Purple, before Blackmore’s Night. If Rainbow tour properly, I hope I get a seat.