“I’d rather play to fifteen people who are kind of spaced out and into renaissance music and the whole vibe of living in those days. I’ve played to two-hundred and seventy-five thousand people, and it’s very good for the ego, but it doesn’t do much for the inner soul.”
And he should know. Ritchie Blackmore, ex-guitarist from Deep Purple, one of the most popular early metal bands of all time, left the stadium shows, drugs and heavy partying behind him, to play the mandolin with his wife Candice Night in their renaissance rock band, Blackmore’s Night.
If you’re a fan of medieval music and folk rock, chances are you’ve heard Blackmore’s Night. They may not be playing in stadiums, but their unique blend of “blackmoreized” medieval rock has them selling out shows across Europe, including the first date of their latest tour, playing for around 2000 people in the grounds of Veldenstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.
We couldn’t have planned a more atmospheric concert. The opening band, a couple of local minstrels whose excitement at being on the same stage as Ritchie Blackmore was evident in their dopey grins, warmed up the crowd while we hunted for the t-shirt stand. After being sorely disappointed at the t-shirt designs, we picked up a couple of Blackmore’s Night pewter tankards (rad), got our meat-on-a-stick, nutella crepes and our drinks of choice for the evening (the official castle beer – yes!) and found a spot on the hill to watch the action.
Opening with “Locked Within the Crystal Ball”, Candice’s voice filled the night, ringing clear through the tangle of creepers that decorated the stage and castle walls. Rarely do I find myself drawn to female vocals, but she can hold you mesmerised. You can feel her joy in every note – even when she speaks she sounds as if she were singing. In recording, she is but a shadow of her real talent – it is on stage, surrounding by stone walls and adoring fans, that she becomes a creature of beauty and power.
And Ritchie Blackmore, the consumate grumpy bastard, was in remarkable humour. He packed a sad because Candice neglected to introduce him, figuring we all probably knew who he was. The undisputed leader, you could only watch as he moulded the show to his ideal – drawing out the music, or pulling back, deciding when to start, when to stop, when to let it all go crazy. He appears so natural and at ease with a guitar in his hands you swear it must be an extension of his weedy body.
“I like leaping around on stage as long as it’s done with class. None of this jumping up in the air and doing the splits.” – Ritchie Blackmore
They played a couple of tracks from the new album – Autumn Sky – which I find mediocre on the CD, but Candice brings them to life. They dedicated the album, and the Song “Strawberry Girl” to their daughter, Autumn. Ritchie gives a couple of his remarkable solos, his face impassive, as though he were waiting for the bus. The crowd – mostly older folk, and many had brought their families – sang along to favorites like “World of Stone”, “Home Again”, “The Clock Ticks On”, and the Joan Byez cover “Diamonds and Rust.”
Ghost of a Rose – Blackmore’s Night – Live at Burg Veldenstein
Black Night – Blackmore’s Night – Live at Burg Veldenstein
And, for your interest, there’s a particularly good interview with Ritchie Blackmore over on Guitar International.