Blackmore's Night

Tyne Theatre, Newcastle

22 May 2000

Oh my god.

I don't know how to describe it.

Last night I witnessed the finest display of guitar mastery I have ever know.

All you people who didn't go to see Blackmore's Night because you think Ritchie isn't the player he was, well you might as well take hemlock or something because I don't know how you can live with yourselves after missing him last night.

York was good. Ritchie played superbly well in York. But you expect him to play well — he's the best in the world. But in Newcastle (my home town! or close enough, anyway) last night he played beyond anything I have ever seen. I've seen Ritchie in 85, 87, 91, 93 (twice), and 95, and nothing compares with last night.

The set list was very similar to York. In fact, I think a couple of songs were dropped, though the show was about the same length (2 hours). But the songs we got were played so differently. Ritchie extended the guitar solo in most of them. He doodled around. He left the band to carry the tunes while he played at random, playing in and around the tune but always fitting perfectly with the song.


The extended violin/guitar duets that now seem to be in every other song. The instruments make a great sound together, and he's so FAST. I know it's a cliche, but his hands really do blur. For real.

An incredible solo in The Clock Ticks On, where he plays like the old Ritchie and his hands are all over the guitar, he's using techniques that I don't have names for, the wrong hand is in the wrong place and he's still blindingly fast and accurate and melodic.

The encore, Gone with the Wind (my favourite Blackmore's Night Song, maybe) where he's doing it again and more and he's at the front of the stage (finally!) and leaping around and playing so fast, it's like, who needs Child in Time when "mediaeval tunes" rock like this?

The next encore, Black Night. Yes, you read that right. And Candice absolutely mangles it because she can't do Gillan but it doesn't matter because she looks so happy in the process and she holds out the mic for the audience to sing it. And Ritchie is like he's had too much caffeine, he's slinging his guitar around and pretending to hurl it into the audience, he's playing on his knees, and now using assorted body parts, but all the time he's not making random noise he's really playing the song and the rest of the band stand around because it's Ritchie and oh dammit I don't know how to describe it to you, you can't describe it you have to feel it and I don't know if I will ever feel anything like it again.

And after expending that much energy, they come back to play Now And Then, written around Bach's most beautiful ever melody, a quiet, simple, beautiful end to the most incredible concert I have ever witnessed.

I don't know what else to say.