Blackmore's Night came to Newcastle's Tyne Theatre as part of their UK tour and Rahul Shrivastava went to see the show.
Newcastle Tyne Theatre, Wednesday 26 October 2005

tyneOne night in Newcastle, two rock icons in town. Across the river, in a rather odd looking building they call The Sage, was former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant. Back here, in a small Theatre they call Tyne, was former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.

Yet gone is the sound of crashing guitars, ear-piercing screams, and distorted feedback. While Plant performed a shortened set at the opening of world music expo Womex, Blackmore was taking us on an acoustical journey with kings and queens, to days of yore, where life was more ‘simple and innocent’.

The music of Blackmore’s Night appears to have attracted a complete cross-section of fans. Men with long hair, denim jackets, and Deep Purple T-Shirts mingled with fans who have totally embraced the music of Blackmore’s Night, dressing up in full renaissance garb. Me, I left my green tights at home.


"While several songs sound more like Eurovision sing-alongs, others are altogether beguiling in their imagery."
Candice Night, a delicate creature with a bewitching voice, is the singer, exuding a confidence that has grown bigger the longer the band have been together. Morning Star opened proceedings with some wonderful acoustic playing from Ritchie and heavenly vocals from Candice. It set a standard that was largely maintained.

While several songs sound more like Eurovision sing-alongs (Under A Violet Moon, Home Again), others are altogether beguiling in their imagery. I Still Remember was powerful and emotive, while the new track Streets of London, a cover of the old Ralph McTell tune, was handled passionately, the fragile nature of Candice’s voice empathising with the plight of London’s poor and lonely.

Ritchie’s past was not entirely forgotten about though. Deep Purple’s Soldier of Fortune transferred itself well from David Coverdale’s old blues lament to Candice’s camp-fire balladeering. Blackmore’s understated solo captured the moment perfectly. Another Deep Purple classic, Child in Time, faired less successfully, with an ambitious arrangement that failed to hit the spot.


Fires At Midnight, a song that has a tasty electric guitar solo on record, was completely unplugged for this arrangement. It was a sparkling rendition, but the lack of a Stratocaster reminded me of the first time I heard The Eagles’ Hotel California unplugged. It’s pleasant, and I liked it, but somewhere deep inside, I really wanted them to plug in and let fly.

The sound was crisp and clear, and the rest of the band added to the atmosphere. Violinist Tudor Rose was exceptional, demonstrating her prowess on the instrument by giving us an improvised version of The Blaydon Races. Keyboardist, Bard David of Larchmont, also added to the light-hearted festivities on stage, jokingly over-powering Candice with a quite remarkable operatic bellow.

However, the ending of a glorious set was marred with disappointment. Blackmore often switches to his electric guitar for the closing stages of a gig, and it’s these moments that go down well with his old rock fans, and also provides a welcome change of pace for the gig's finale. Unfortunately, one fan couldn’t wait any longer, and shouted angrily for Ritchie to plug in his Stratocaster.

It seemed to alter Ritchie’s mood. With a face like thunder, he remained on his acoustic guitar for the rest of the show. At the end, he simply walked off. ‘Oh, is that it then?’ Candice asked, turning round. Unfortunately it was. Ah, the frailty of the pop ego.