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BLACKMORE'S NIGHT, Buxton Opera House
1 October 2011
Carlsberg voiceover. In carriages from Chesterfield to Chester, fathers
would have told tales to their first born that once there was a man who
could evoke fear in whole armies of camp followers such as other musos,
camera operators, managers and promoters until he was tamed by a
princess from a distant land.
Fast forward to the Georgian splendour of the Buxton Opera House on this
glorious autumn evening and we're set for lyres and fires.
poetic innocence ladled out in generous portions and interspersed with
moments of pure genius from the man in black.
to the opener, 'Locked within the Crystal Ball' from the 'Secret Voyage'
album was an impressive voyage through sea and stars. This was poetic
innocence ladled out in generous portions and interspersed with moments
of pure genius from the main in black.
broodily remained in the shadows for the first couple of songs causing
one or two professional challenges for our lensman Lee Millward, while
Candice took the floodlights.
foreground was lined with trees and old barrels around which seven
minstrels plied their successive trades on violin, keyboards, bagpipes,
bass, pipes percussion and of course the stringed ensemble.
Those few Rainbow and Purple fans who hoped in their heart of hearts
that their icon would suddenly see red and rip into 'Kill the King'
whilst appearing on the nearby "royal box" dangling down a mutilated
Stratocaster to the baying wolves below like he did in 1977 at the
Liverpool Empire would be disappointed.
Other half, Candice Night just about touches the right note with a witty
delivery between songs which alludes to the Purple or Indigo past
without giving any indication that this more recent offering is a poor
substitute for it. This way we can celebrate past triumphs and
tribulations without being slaves to them and, instead, enjoying
Blackmores Night for what it is.
Witty lines like "Before Ritchie became medieval, he was just evil" were
legion. Self deprecating moments such as when Blackmore corrected his
missus on the number of ex wives he had tempted (four not three)
provided an added dimension to the evening's entertainment.
Candice Night too is more than fit for purpose and a good frontwoman.
Lyrically, is more Carly Simon than Carole King, preferring celebrations
of people through the ages getting together in candlelit situations over
any allusion to societal change.
And yet Blackmores Night is also a celebration of medieval and
renaissance music, so who are we to scoff at lyrics that, in their day,
were motivational pieces designed to lift people from lives that were
often nasty, brutal and short? The question is whether it has a place in
our record (or mp3) collection now.
This came to light particularly in the 12th century muse written by King
Alphonse entitled 'World of Stone.' Fast forward to the 16th century,
'The Clock Ticks On' before which Blackmore whimsically chimed in with
"I wrote it my myself in the 1500s." A deft move; at least he can't be
sued by living musicians like some of his guitar contemporaries we could
Many of the songs from the extensive Blackmores Night back catalogue are
a joy to behold. 'Queen for a Day' combined ballad with jig and, with
some magnificent acoustic runs from our man, we could sit back and
forget the everyday challenges that this recession is imposing on many
Two blasts from the past, one intentional and the other curiously
spontaneous added cinnamon to the mead. Purple's 'Soldier of Fortune'
was beautifully executed. Two thirds through and we lost both Night and
Blackmore, the band having to fill in for a good ten minutes while they
jammed as bemused as us as to what was going on.
some backstage duel though, it might have had something to do with one
year old, Autumn Blackmore running across the stage to greet her mommy
just a couple of songs previously. A lovely moment, and a further
indication that our dark hero is now firmly set for a more sedentary
My favourite bit was inevitably the couple of songs he did on the white
Stratocaster. It might have been pure nostalgia on my part, but I was
nonetheless moved by his absolute mastery of this instrument eyes
closed, chopping, picking and bending the strings to create a haunting
interlude to 'Lorelei.'
Request time was also ironic. Inevitable cries of 'Stargazer' from the
blokes and 'Fires at Midnight' from the ladies were eventually placated
by the latter and also a rendition of 'Greensleeves' which was the
closest we were ever going to get to Dio-era Rainbow.
"We get this every night. Ritchie will listen to your requests and then
play something else," joked Candice. No change there then.
Those of us who have witnessed 90 minute sets with no encore in days of
yore could not possibly complain at the three hour long repertoire.
Let's hope they don't leave it another five years for a return to some
of our more salubrious venues here in the UK. They will be made very
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