Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow + Sweet. Live at The Genting Arena. (Review 28/6/17)

The Sweet (8/10) have never really had their fair dues and no one seems more aware of that than themselves. Sweet thanked Ritchie Blackmore for the opportunity to play an arena. As "we're a British band and we deserve to play here more than we do". If this sounds like moaning then it wasn't. Sweet clearly enjoy playing hugely. They still have the energy and enthusiasm of a much younger band. Founder member Andy Scott also pointed out that due to his recent knee surgery he was "drugged up to my eye balls, like all the gigs in my 20's". The reason Sweet might be overlooked in their own country is that despite the pop songs, they're a hard rock band. A point they're still proving 40 years later. Their songs are irresistibly fun and catchy. Fox on the Run (a recent chart hit because of Guardians of the Galaxy - but not in the UK), Blockbuster, Teenage Rampage and Ballroom Blitz, were all able to have an entirely seated audience* standing, clapping and singing along. The Sweet formed over 40 years ago, but it feels like they are only getting started.

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow preceded their set with a huge union jack projection, with pictures of their many old tickets stubs projected onto the screen to 'Land of hope and glory'. An indication that this wasn't going to be a 40 minute greatest hits set. The Union Jack gave way to an actual rainbow as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow came on to the stage to huge applause. It quickly became apparent through the opener 'Spotlight kid' that despite 20 years of loving in the middle ages Ritchie is still both a rock legend and guitar hero. The singer for this line up is the Italian, Ronnie Romero. Ronnie seems to have been born destined for this job. Attractive, charismatic and a fantastic singer, Ronnie was born for the job. Ronnie is clearly standing on the shoulders of giants such as DIO, Gillan and erm... Bonnet. Yet unlike many of those singers there was clearly no clash between him and Ritchie as he was as much of a fan as anyone in the crowd, and a fitting side-man for the rock legend. It did however feel at times that Ronnie was bordering on karaoke, paying tribute to DIO by imitating his voice perfectly. Ronnie Romero is be a fantastic singer but I never really heard his voice.
The two hour set was filled with Deep Purple and Rainbow anthems and deep cuts with a fantastic light show throughout. Ritchie paid tribute to both Jon lord (with a long instrumental acoustic guitar piece) and DIO (with pictures and footage of the 70's band on the screen behind them) Rainbow in 2017 are still as excessive as in 77'. Ritchie incorporated Beethoven's 'Ode to joy' into his own 'Difficult to Cure' and Jens Johannson's ten minute keyboard solo was a welcome toilet break opportunity and reminder of why punk had to happen. More fun was the drum solo where David Keith shared his kit with Ronnie Romero, for the first two man drum solo I've ever seen.
Thankfully 'All Night Long', Since You've been gone' and 'Long live Rock N' Roll' made up for the extended soloing. Although Ritchie Blackmore gained cheers for every solo. He also seems quite literally down to earth** with his fans, sitting on the stage, shaking hands and listening to requests from people in the front rows. It's probably not because I shouted for it, but Deep Purple's 'Black Night' went down a storm, as did 'Burn'. Of course the last song of the show had to be 'Smoke on the Water', the most famous riff of all time played by the man who wrote it, awesome.

*Having this show as an entirely seated event was a stupid idea. I was grateful to have a seat for much of this 2+ hour show but the marshall's had their work cut out for them keeping people confined to their seats. Having a standing show would have worked much better.  
** yeah yeah, I know. 

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