Blackmore's Night

G-Live, Guildford

5 July 2013

Apart from having a silly name, G Live is the best venue of the tour so far. It's a modern building, so it doesn't have the character of the old theatres they've been playing, but it's well laid out, spacious (biggest audience so far, I should think), with stalls that slope so steeply that I had a clear view even when everybody stood up, and a perfect sound that was not only the loudest of the tour but also crystal clear, allowing me to pick out every instrument and also hear every word of Ritchie's off-mic comments from the stage.

I haven't mentioned the support band this tour, so I really should fix that now. It's an English duo called Revellion who play traditional music on hurdy gurdy, border pipes, drum and mandola. The music is great, and you might recognise several tunes that Blackmore's Night have been known to play. Their set varies slightly from night to night, possibly because they're trying to avoid playing the same tunes as the main act! There's also a lot of funny patter between songs, so a very entertaining half hour altogether. Highly recommended.

So, the main act comes on at 8.45, and it's possibly the only time I've heard a concert start with a drum solo! Really, the drummer is superb, and he really sets the tone of the powerful, rocking show.

There's nothing new in the set tonight, but it's a combination of the best bits from the rest of the tour (sadly no hurdy gurdy), with the bonus of a much clearer guitar sound so I could follow all of the improvised runs Ritche plays constantly through every song.

It's a cliché to say he's playing better than ever, but... he's playing better than ever. This style of music really suits him and lets him show off every facet of his playing, because with this band behind him he can rock as hard as you want, even on acoustic guitar, and then play the most heart-wrenching melodies in songs like Diamonds and Rust, Barbara Allen, and the rest. And how could anyone wish for a Rainbow reunion when it means missing out on beauty like that?

They play two hours twenty minutes again, finishing with Fires at Midnight (l-o-n-g guitar solo) at 11.05 — and then no encores! But not because RB is in a bad mood (I've never seen him happier or more animated) but because there's a venue curfew and they've been ordered off! For a second, I thought he might rebel and play on, but no, it's instruments down and he makes do with dancing with the band (and some women from the audience that he randomly pulls onto the stage) as the outro music plays.

I fully believe Candice when she says they would stay and play all night if they were allowed. I wish they had. I wish they were still playing for me now.

Because that's how you feel when you come out of the best concert you have ever seen. That's why you keep going night after night. Because nothing is as good as this.

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