Blackmore's Night

Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton

30 October 2005

I wasn't sure if they would be able to top the performance from Buxton, but THIS was the show where they finally got the guitar mix right. From the start, it sliced through the other instruments, loud and clear, notes flowing out with that beautiful tone that only Ritchie Blackmore has.

The set changes again: no Fires at Midnight or Ghost of a Rose, which is a bit of a surprise (and *almost* a disappointment...) but Ritchie takes requests and gives us a medley of Wish you Were Here and Ocean Gypsy. Other than that, the "standards" are all there.

Sometimes the arrangements get a bit chaotic and you think it might fall apart; Ritchie cuts through the songs, playing whatever he feels like; but somehow it hangs together. After a particularly weird improv in Home Again, Candice totally loses her way, forgets the words to the next verse, and lets the backing singers pick it up for her and finish the song.

Mid way through Past Times with Good Company, Ritchie picks out the opening to Child in Time and there's a kind of stunned cheer, as if the crowd can't quite believe they've heard it. The rest of the band come in, with the violin taking the organ part (kind of), but it's not until Candice comes in with the lyrics that you can really believe they're going to do it. Her phrasing takes a bit of getting used to and she knows her limitations — when it comes to the screams, she steps to one side and the backing singers come to the front of the stage, taking over with some truly impressive operatic wailing. The intensity builds up... and stops short of the solo! But that's misleading, because he's *already* played the solo, it was there cutting through the band and the screams, driving everything along. Yes, it goes without saying that you wish he would go on for another 10 minutes, but it's impossible to argue with the effectiveness of this arrangement. I am absolutely transfixed by it every night,.

The main set is a surprisingly short 90 minutes, and there's a l-o-n-g wait to see if there will be an encore... yes (thank God), the keyboard player comes back on to do his solo piano spot, which is very good but seems identical every night (contrast this with the violin player who plays a different solo each night — tonight it was an old Slade tune... well... Wolverhampton...)

The piano solo leads into Ariel. The current arrangement of this is very good — and Candice's voice is again very powerful, giving Doogie a run for his money (seriously).

All For One is back as the second encore, still on the Strat, followed by another rocking song that is familiar but I can't name. Oh, and I forgot the brief snippet of Difficult to Cure. Oh yes, THIS is what I call an encore!

Off again for another long wait... Candice dashes on again to say thankyougoodnight, then runs off again. A bit odd... I assumed that meant she was expecting to do another encore but Ritchie canned it, so that's it... but what's this? From off in the wings comes the Black Night riff, and he's back on again, playing Black Night, a full-on, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink version with solos, bass solo, guitar/bass call-and-response... and a sudden abrupt end that left me quite out of breath.


Best concert I've ever seen.