Blackmore's Night

Cambridge Theatre, London

25 May 2000

This gets harder to do. How many times can I write "perfect", "superb", etc., etc.?

So, tonight was a bit different. For some reason, the show was delayed from its 8:00 start. Albert Dannerman didn't come on until about 8:30. I thought they might cut the support acts, but no, Albert and Mostly Autumn played their normal sets. Blackmore's Night came on stage at about 9:45 and played a slightly shorter set than usual, finishing at about 11:30.

You want to know what a Blackmore's Night concert looks like? Okay...

The backdrop is a huge replica of the mediaeval street-scene painting on the Under A Violet Moon album cover. Except the street is empty ⁸ the figures are omitted because the band are the figures. Get it?

The drums are concealed behind green foliage. Candice's microphone stand is wrapped in climbing roses, and there are a few candles placed around the stage. Otherwise, it looks like any rock concert stage ⁸ with smaller Marshall stacks.

The canned music between acts is appropriate period music, which I don't really recognise. As the time approaches, the music switches to a recognisable interpretation of The Clock Ticks On ⁸ played predominantly on horns but with bagpipes (I think) and other instruments too. Interwoven with this tune, the horns play the riffs to Black Night and Smoke On The Water ⁸ very bizarre but very cool too.

Finally, house lights go down. While the band take their places, thunder sounds and lightning is projected onto the backdrop. This is starting to look suspiciously like a rock concert...

Then, cutting through the thunder, an unearthly wailing. It's not a sound I can easily describe to you... until you see Ritchie entering from the right and you realise he's playing it ⁸ and now you know exactly what sound I mean, right? Candice walks on a few seconds later. She gets an ovation at least as great as Ritchie's. They play some kind of introductory tune, which isn't anything really, and then it's straight into Shadow Of The Moon.

I'm not going to go through the whole thing again. you're probably sick of me by now. I'll just make a few observations...

I think I previously made some unkind remarks about Candice Night not singing 16th Century Greensleeves very well. I take it all back. It's difficult, on first hearing, because you expect Ronnie Dio and she obviously isn't him. But once you get used to her style of singing it, you realise it's very good. She certainly has enough power and range (more than you would expect from hearing the CDs). I like it very much.

All the band seem to enjoy themselves on stage. They joke with each other and seem very relaxed. Candice herself is the happiest person I have ever seen on stage. She smiles and the whole theatre lights up. Wait a minute, I might delete that. Does it sound too sappy? No? Ok then...

Again, I am astounded by the virtuosity and versatility of the violinist. The bass player appears to play some extremely complex lines, far above what you expect from the average rock bass player, and I like the sound of the acoustic bass guitar. Keyboards ⁸ very good. The player is very animated and also gets the award for silliest hat. The second keyboard player isn't so visible, hidden behind the first both literally and figuratively. But her backing vocals come through strongly and add a lot to the sound.

I confess that the electronic drum sound is still a little annoying at times but that in no way reflects on the skill of the guy playing them, and it does allow for a wide range of percussion.

Am I writing too much again? Ok, briefly then, the set list was very similar to Cambridge but slightly shortened because of the late start. The saddest omission (for me) was The Clock Ticks On, because I have come to love the live version.

The band come back for encores at 11:10 and Candice confesses that there was an 11 o'clock curfew and the management is threatening to cut the power! So she tells us that this will be the final song. Then she checks with Ritchie, who says, "No, I'm going to piss them off" and plays the full encore set of Wish You Were Here, Spirit Of The Sea, and Mr Tambourine Man.

The last song is brand new. I mean, not on the albums and not played on the tour before. It's called Think It's Gonna Rain Tonight (I think). Candice and Ritchie play it alone while the band watches (I don't think anybody was expecting it). It's a beautiful, simple, slow ballad... and tragically I feel it fading from my memory even as I write this...

It's been a great tour.

And even though this show has reached its end
You know I'll think of you Now and Then.
Thank you.