Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ritchie Blackmore's Night / Wizard's Consort @ the Birchmere 5/20/2014

Finally I went to see Ritchie Blackmore ($52.85 after fees!!) and Blackmore's Night at the Birchmere.  I met up with Nina and Josh, Neil and Michelle, Tom, and Dorothy.

Disclaimer: I have never seen Ritchie Blackmore live, so this night was a special bucket list night, as I needed to see him live before one of us departs.

Blackmore's Night!

The show was announced as sold out (venue capacity: 500... a little less than Empire actually) a few days before the date!  So, as one of 3 US tour dates (yes, three), I def had to make sure to get there early to see quite possibly my favourite guitar player of all time.  There was a line when I got there, but not too many people in costume.  We queued up and got tickets and were called in to the main hall at about 6 PM. Nina and Josh were in costume (well moreso Nina) and I was slumming in my Ghost shirt. We managed to sit with a very nice Norwegian gentleman who had a lot of interesting stories.  Then, the stars aligned and somehow I managed up behind Josh and Nina, about 4 people back from the front of the stage in the middle of the floor... about 20 feet from where Blackmore would be.

Blackmore's Tour Program OMFG

Merchandise- I will jump forward in time because I didn't get a chance to take a look until AFTER the show. Blackmore's Night had shirts ($20), their latest CD/DVD Dancer and the Moon ($15) (got this), the York DVD, Candice's solo album ($15), some shirts ($25), and a Tour Program!!! ($20) which I nearly got. My brother and Neil have talked about these glossy photo rich documents as relics from tours of days gone by and it was shocking to see one. I probably should have grabbed a cool memento like that.  There was pretty brisk business after the show, but Candice's solo didn't seem to have many takers (may look at this on Amazon tho, I ... can't resist).

The Wizard's Consort, featuring Zakk Wydle and Robin Hood

The nigh un-Googlable Wizard's Consort (prepare for fan fiction if you do) was on first, and early even!  This band consisted a bass player (dressed as Robin Hood basically), a keyboard/ bongo player, and a guitar player (who played a few different Renaissance stringed instruments) who evoked a Renaissance Zakk Wylde with his long hair and longer beard wearing a Ritchie Blackmore pilgrim hat.  They were very appropriate sounding, and had a pretty long set.  I only recognized "Greensleeves," but the other songs were not introduced, and the band was pretty silent (especially since they played only instrumentals).  Sir Zakk changed his guitar to a double necked mandolin or something (no idea how he would have reached the second neck, as both necks were like right next to each other). I couldn't really tell any difference in sound between that and his other stringed guitar type instrument, so it seemed that they had a little flair for the dramatic in the seemingly poorly timed instrument switch.  The bassist started out with a 'normal' bass, then had an upright bass (!!!) for a few songs. There was a quiver with the bass's bow (along with the Robin Hood look, I thought this was fabulous) as well.  Their songs sounded like some of them I had heard before, but I wouldn't be able to tell you which songs were what.  Musically, they sounded pretty great, and Zakk the bearded's skilled picking on his instrument was fitting.  They warmed up the crowd well, but I was fearing an 'overdose' of Renaissance music overall.  I enjoyed them overall, but thought it was apropos that they were not 'on the grid' as it were (Google results turned up only the event page).  Their set went on a bit longer than I would have wanted to, and all the instrumentals were getting me a little antsy (mind wandering)

The Legend

The 8 members of Blackmore's Night took the stage that was decorated with fake rocks, plants, and a castley back drop one by one to something over the PA.  There was a keyboard / piano player, a drummer, a bassist, a backup singer/woodwind player, a horn/brass player, a violinist, Candice Night, and Ritchie Blackmore himself. WHEW.  The sound was amazingly clear (even more than the Winery Dogs) and comfortably loud (no earplugs needed). The multi-coloured light show was also well done.  There were so many people and instruments on stage, you'd think it would be way too busy, but it all somehow worked. I know Blackmore himself started with the hurdy gurdy, then switched to various guitars.

Candice Night. I'm in love

The band was pretty tight musically, but loose and adaptable setlist/attitude wise. It was like they may have had a few parts in the setlist that were variable based on what Ritchie felt like.  I don't know if that waws true or not, but it certainly felt like they could just play anything at times.  Mrs Blackmore was absolutely enchanting- one friend described her as 'if you look up the word pretty in the dictionary, there's  a picture of her there.'  100% accurate- she looks pretty, sounds pretty, and was pretty full of energy.  The rest of the band was in pretty good spirits as well, especially the keyboard/piano player who threw in a "Bad Romance" interlude and some funny and some bad jokes. The Norwegian gentleman mentioned that with Candice, Ritchie seems to have changed (for the better)- to be smiling and actually happy on stage and less volatile.  After seeing her live, I can definitely see why. Between Candice's positive attitude and constant wisecracking and Ritchie Blackmore's playing I was positively enthralled and their lengthy 2.5 hour set seemed to pass very fast.  

Ritchie Blackmore is THE guitar god

The amazingly spry 69 year old mustachioed Blackmore's playing was in a word, incredible.  During his solos, especially the electric ones, the entire hall was so quiet you could (cliche) hear a pin drop. EVERYONE was enchanted, their eyes and ears locked onto Ritchie. I for one was slack jawed and was a close runner up for the Crybaby of the Year 2014 during those 2 songs. I was awed to be that close and to finally hear the legend live.  I didn't even get any pics of the solos with his Stratocaster because I was so Starstruck.  To me, it was quite possibly one of the best performances I've ever seen.  Blackmore was very gracious and always deferring to the rest of the band when the applause came. He was hiding in the shadows and trying to have people pay attention to the rest of the band it seemed.  He seemed in good spirits for the most part, with joking banter between him and some of the audience and Candice.  I should also mention that he totally had  a hair piece on, and some friends remarked when they recall it first appeared ;3

Blackmore and the Strat

And of course no mention of Ritchie Blackmore would be complete without potential disasters and temper. Meltdowns-wise, there was one idiot who yelled out "Did you bring the Strat?" and Ritchie held up a hand to his ear and mocked "Did you bring a hat?" and then somehow someone handed him one of those musketeer type hats with a big feather, which he briefly tried on then passed to the drummer. He kind of played that one off, but part of me wanted to strangle that guy for possibly ruining the night by testing the infamously temperamental Blackmore temper. During a later song, there was some feedback or some other vocal problem on Candice's vocals, and Ritchie went over to the mic in the center and scathingly remarked "Let's do one with the monitors ON."  Again, my heart dropped, wondering if this would spell the end of the Night.

Blackmore and Night

For the instrumental after "Soldier...," the piano player went on for a bit until ... someone in a furry bunny costume came out and smacked him with an inflatable Avengers hammer. WTF? I believe this was just an instrumental with the non Blackmores (who left the stage) in the band.

The crowd reaction was overall very good- I don't think I've heard as much clapping (my hands still hurt) along to songs at any show I've been to before. People did occasionally sing along ("...Violet Moon"), but mostly it was claps and a ton of applause.  This appreciative aura added to the joyous occasion.

View from my table

The songs I mostly recognized (or was able to find), apart from some of the instrumentals.  We got a Joan Baez cover ("Diamonds...") complete with a "what? no one covers my songs except Judas Priest" joke, a Deep Purple cover ("Soldier..."), and a scant two songs on the electric Stratocaster, and a ton of the melodic Renn faire type music that IS Blackmore's Night.  If you wanted to hear Blackmore live, you def got a lot of him, and IMO it was well worth the $50.  If you wanted Blackmore's Night /Renn Fair songs- you got a TON of that, maybe even an overdose. If you wanted old Purple/Rainbow/etc. and/or electric Blackmore, then you would probably be pretty disappointed except for the couple of songs- despite the fact that Blackmore has done his Renaissance stuff for almost 20 years now.  I am a Blackmore's Night fan, but I will have to agree that I would have LOVED for more songs with that Strat.  But artistically, I can definitely respect his decision to do what his muse tells him to. And begrudgingly accept that we may never hear him play most of those songs ever again.  Whatever the case, there should have been something for everyone.  

Good bye

As Blackmore and his Night left the stage, people were chanting for an encore (that never happened), but we were only given Snoopy VS The Red Baron over the PA. Overall I had a cathartic experience seeing my favourite guitarist of all time and hanging with friends (despite a little hate ;3 ).  But I was wondering why didn't they have Christopher Lee open for a "Ye Good Olde Time Tour"? 

Next show: Scorpion Child? Dogs and Day Drinkers? Get the Led Out?  we'll see...


The Wizard's Consort(7:20- 8)

  • Chanson de Toile
  • Chanconeta Tedesca
  • Passemeze
  • La Rotta
  • Pavane
  • Tourdion
  • Kemps Jig
  • Hupffauff

  • Allemande & Cadenza
  • La Reprisa
  • Saltarello

  • Greensleeves
  • Guardame Las Vacas

  • La Bouree
  • Mon Amy
  • La Gamba

  • Mid Eastern Raga (Up-Tempo)
  • Passa Aguo
  • Triumph of Death
  • Secular Renaissance

  • Dance of Death
  • Weiss Minuet
  • Dance Royal
  • Cantiga

  • Marallazula (Closer)

Blackmore's Night (8:40- 11)

  • Intro
  • (Unknown, but maybe was just a Hurdy gurdy intro)
  • Dancer and the Moon 
  • Darkness 
  •  Queen for a Day, Part II (Instrumental)
  • Under a Violet Moon 
  • Soldier of Fortune (Deep Purple cover)
  • Durch den Wald zum Bach Haus  (Instrumental)
  • World of Stone 
  • All the Fun of the Fayre 
  • Diamonds & Rust  (Joan Baez cover)
  • Renaissance Faire 
  • Piano Solo 
  • The Moon Is Shining (Somewhere Over the Sea) (strat!)
  • Loreley  (strat!)
  • Barbara Allen 
  • Peasant's Promise 
  • Home Again - Drink Drink Drink - The Happy Wanderer - Reprise , with Hall of the Mountain King Outro
  • Fires at Midnight 
  • Toast to Tomorrow  (with 'Bad Romance' interlude)
  • The Clock Ticks On 
  • Village Lanterne 
update: added setlist for Wizard's Consort!~