RAINBOW “Black Masquerade (Rockpalast)”

Live at last! This is the first enthusiastic thought that popped up in my mind as soon as my eyes were set upon a copy of the new RAINBOW live release “Black Masquerade”. Maybe new is not the appropriate adjective to use in this case since the current RAINBOW live release dates back to RAINBOW’s 1995 “Strangers In Us All” tour. Nonetheless ‘new’ is appropriate if we think that no live album has ever officially been released with this line up: Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Doogie White (vocals), Paul Morris (keyboards), Greg Smith (bass), Chuck Burgi (drums), Candice Night (backing vocals).

Unofficially bootleg copies were available on youtube and Internet before, to be  honest. Fortunately Eagle Records decided it was time to give this live performance an official release. So Black Masquerade comes in the dual form of a live CD and a live DVD. Both are from the show at the Philipshalle, Germany, October 9, 1995 for the German TV Rockpalast.

Expectations were high when Blackmore reformed RAINBOW back in 1994. And many would wonder if the new singer, and the new line-up as well, could live up to RAINBOW’s glory days when the late Ronnie James Dio enraptured crowds of fans with his voice. That’s when this new release comes in to prove that, although one-off lead singers are almost impossible to replace, nonetheless the once-oh-so-missed magic can be conjured up again for all to experience.

Doogie White, a talented Scottish lead singer, is certainly no second-best in the crowded arena of contemporary hard rock singers. His voice is powerful and communicative. He masters songs from RAINBOW’S Dio-era, as well as the era with Joe Lynn Turner brilliantly. And that comes to show in the opening track of the show: the fantastic “Spotlight Kid”. One of the Rainbow’s favourite opening songs ever, here the band takes no prisoners and Blackmore’s guitar work is remarkable and unique. “Too Late for Tears”, from the aforementioned “Stranger In Us All” album, follows on and the atmosphere turns into hard’n’blues. “Long Live Rock’n’Roll” then fires the audience up with its anthem chorus. In the middle of the song Blackmore segues into the riff of Deep Purple’s “Black Night”.

Then “Hunting Humans (Insatiable)”, from the “Stranger In Us All” album, spreads a sense of darkness and mystery. It’s a song full of tension that builds upon the dark and brooding melodic passages within. The following “Wolf To The Moon/Difficult To Cure” sears the stage and shows a band in full shape.

Here Blackmore delivers one of his best solos and arpeggios. One of those who make you stand and take notice. The blend of fast intense runs combined with classical arpeggios is the “Man in Black” signature reminds us why he is one of the best all-time guitarists in the world. After a masterful solo by Paul Morris on the keyboards the evergreen “Still I’m Sad” and “Man on the Silver Mountain” take us back to the magic and the glory of the days when RAINBOW first appeared on the hard rock scene. Nothing was going to be the same anymore since then. Here White’s singing recalls Dio’s and Blackmore’s solo is a masterpiece of guitar work: searing licks combined with softly blues-based runs then back to arpeggiated melodies.

One of the highlights of the live recording is, without doubt, “Temple of the King”. A dramatic, soft, Renaissance-era like ballad from the first RAINBOW album performed brilliantly. On the close Blackmore is emotionally involved in a melodic solo that has no equal.

The gig goes on soaring high on the notes and power of the great “Black Masquerade”, again a song from “The Stranger in Us All” album, which combines flamenco-classical-like guitar breaks and the frenzy powering of Burgi’s drumming. The song itself is a masterpiece. One of the Blackmore’s finest ever. The ensuing “Ariel” sees Candice Night’s vocals join in. The song is a pure beauty of the night combining epic style with Blackmore’s middle eastern riffs, dark and thunderous tempo. “Since You’ve Been Gone” takes us back to the days when Graham Bonnett took on the lead vocals. The song’s melodic chorus enlightens the mood and gives way to Purple’s evergreen “Perfect Strangers”.

As anyone knows Blackmore is a huge Renaissance music fan. Thus “Greensleaves” couldn’t be absent in the set list. The Man In Black plucks the strings gently like a minstrel and the song’s notes herald the following “Hall of the Mountain King”. The song is a sort of heavy rock adaptation of the classical piece by EDVARD GRIEG. The song draws to its conclusion on an emotional crescendo that leaves the listener breathless.

The band ends the show by performing two songs which are now part of rock’s history: “Burn” and “Smoke on the Water”. The rendition of “Burn” equals that of  DEEP PURPLE’s 1974 live version. It exudes fire, energy and testosterone! “Smoke on the Water” is the closing number at the end of a memorable live show that stood the test of time and that represents what a seminal, impressive, substantial and majestic band RAINBOW were (and still are).

The “Man In Black” is unpredictable. You never know what the future has in store. Die-hard fans always keep hoping. Let’s all hope that someday he feels like catching the Rainbow once again!

Release date: 23 August 2013
Label: Eagle Records Entertainment


CD 1:
Spotlight Kid
Too Late For Tears
Long Live Rock’n’Roll/Black Night
Hunting Humans
Wolf To The Moon/Difficult To Cure
Keyboard Solo
Still I’m Sad
Man On The Silver Mountain

CD 2:
Temple Of The King
Black Masquerade
Since You’ve Been Gone
Perfect Strangers
Hall Of The Mountain King
Smoke On The Water