UK Tour 1981
Turning A Deaf Ear
Rainbow Theatre, London July 1981
LET ME out, I want to go home and a sortie out to the bog for paper to stick my ears seems necessary for survival.
This isn't so much of a gig, more a gross invasion of your ears by evil little decibels hell bent on destruction. Sure, all the trimmings are here - a tight package of dry ice and stabbing lights - but where is the substance?
Joe Lynn Turner may be prettier than Dio or Bonnet but he's not in the same class. They've worked him hard in the studio and turned him into an acceptable cover version, but live his voice peaks too soon and lacks depth - especially when having to battle with Ritchie Blackmore's guitar.
Bobby Rondinelli also lacks the power and showmanship of Cozy Powell and he's content to lose himself in a few furious blusters that get nowhere. Meanwhile Roger Glover plods on trying to inject some life into the corpse.
Even the singles are casually thrown away, including 'I Surrender', which turns out to be the chief mess of the evening.
After all these years, you would have thought Blackmore would have cleaned up his act and cut down on his excruciatingly long solos but out they come again dusted down, followed by some slightly out of tune keyboard tinkering from Don Airey sounding like Rick Wakeman circa '74. This gig isn't a crock of gold, but a pot of tarnished brass.
Robin Smith, Record Mirror - 1981
Caught in the act: Rainbow Theatre, London July 1981
THE MORE things change the more they remain the same - at least as far as Ritchie Blackmore and his backing band Rainbow are concerned. Backing band? Yes, if you've ever seen the band at any stage in their six-year-plus career.
Ritchie has always been the star and it was never more evident than at the Rainbow, when it seemed that the spotlight was never off our guitar playing wizard.
Even when Don Airey was doing his Bach-Handel inspired intro to "I Surrender"; even when Roger Glover was commanding the front of the stage with his bass slung like a machine gun and his legs clad in unexpected black spandex; even when new singer Joe Lynn Turner was doing an effective if over-tall impersonation of Ronnie Dio - it always seemed that Blackmore was the man you were supposed to be watching.
Mind you, Blackmore still maintains all his talent, all that ability that has made him one of the finest hard rock guitarists around. But one still wished that he wouldn't shove it in your face so often.
Perhaps the revelation of the night was Turner as Rainbow's new singer. He was about one tenth of one point down on Ronnie Dio at his finest. He wrapped his tonsils more than effectively round such delights as "I Surrender", "The Man On The Silver Mountain", "Catch The Rainbow" and "Can't Happen Here".
As a front man he has yet to learn his craft, I fancy, but as a singer he has the native ability to be Rainbow's finest yet.
Drummer Bobby Rondinelli was about as effective as any percussion is the band has yet boasted. He's less flash than Cozy Powell but I feel he has a greater flair as far as technique is concerned.
And for the audience this might easily have been Rainbow's finest moment yet. Quite simply the band was received with open arms and open hearts.
The same might be said for support band, Rose Tattoo who, in Angry Anderson, possess potentially one of the most charismatic front men in hard rock. He tried just about every stunt that HM has seen to win his audience over, and he probably succeeded.
Naturally the evening belonged to Rainbow, however, and, despite the earlier comments about Blackmore's stage conceit, there's little doubt that he is a superb asset to any band. A fine night, a fine night.
Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker - 18 July 1981
Rainbow Wow! Wow!
Rainbow Theatre, London 8 July 1981
UPWARDS of 7,000 bedenimed and hairy Londoners besieged the semi-seatless art deco theatre for this, the capital debut of Ritchie Blackmore's sixth Rainbow arrangement in as many years.
Since their inception, the self-appointed supergroup have been fair game for full-bodied slaggings from both sides of the critical rock 'n' roll fence. In the past, both the press and the punters have given the band a hard time. But let's be honest. Five minutes before lift-off and my mind is completely open, working at maximum unbiased capacity and, moreover, brimming with wholehearted enthusiasm.
Support band Rose Tattoo had served their purpose. Anderson had gotten angry and hollered: "We're here to warm you up - so get warmed up! Do you want me to get the sack?"
The real action began with the Rainbow intro tape, the traditional pomp of 'Land Of Hope And Glory' booming from the gargantuan sound system. And I do mean BOOMING. 28,000 fingers (think about it) poke the humid, smokey air and the sweetie-pie li'l voice of Judy Garland (is she getting any royalties?) informs us that she's "got a feeling we're not in Kansas any more. We must be over the Rainbow Rainbow Rainbow..." in time-honoured fashion. 14,000 eyes (see?) focus onto the stage, which explodes into activity on cue. There're blinding flashpots, billows of atmospheric see-oh-two, a rising backdrop subsiding then rising again (deliberate?) and sufficient lightbulbage to illuminate Blackpool strand.
The strains of 'Spotlight Kid' pump hot ears with the subtlety of a hydraulic drill and, oh yes, somewhere in the senses-shattering fracas, five musicians have taken to the boards. Fail with an opening like that? No chance.
But what of these musicians? Blackmore, of course, sporting a fine line in Liberace cabaret wear and clutching his white Strat (trademark), just makes it look too Goddamned easy. Nevertheless, during the course of the show, no less than five times did we have to stand and admire his undeniable mastery of the instrument. Over 25 minutes in total! Did we need it? OK, so champagne bottles can double as capos, guitar leads as violin bows, and two digits is all he needs anyway, but frankly I'd rather be listening to 'Stargazer', 'Gates Of Babylon', 'Midtown Tunnel Vision' or any other of the numerous Rainbow songs omitted from the set.
Don Airey's keyboard ramble interpolated into a dreadful 'Can't Happen Here'(I wish it hadn't). It was tedious and uninspiring, neither stimulating nor exciting. But halfway through a satisfactory rendition of 'Lost In Hollywood' came a bolt from the blue - Bobby Rondinelli's drum solo. Visions of boredom were left in tatters by roll after roll of breakneck velocity, always rhythmic, sticks being dispensed with and bounced out into the hands of souvenir-hungry punters. I'm sure he had mighty sore mitts afterwards - in the immortal words of the dove-eater: "Flash American bastard".
I refrain from heaping similar praise on the other defendant in tonight's trial, singer Joe Lynn Turner, 'cos I didn't like the guy. A voice he has - but not a Rainbow voice. Neither is his stagecraft worthy of Blackmore's confidence. Otherwise - a well-presented 'Love's No Friend', and entertaining stabs at the hit singles. 'Long Live' was a highly successful crowd participation number, 'I Surrender' worked well enough, and 'All Night Long' and 'Since You've Been Gone' were the first two encores. The show climaxed with a rave from the grave entitled 'Croak-On The Daughter' (Are you sure? - Ed.)
No guitar trashed (groan). No more encores (moan). No chairs to smash (drat). Exit.
Philip Bell, Sounds - 18 July 1981
Where The Rainbow Ends
Rainbow Theatre, London 8 July 1981
On the night of July 8, 1981, a legend died at the Rainbow. It was witnessed by the entire audience, but many refused to believe the fall of their idol, and cheered and clapped as if nothing had happened.
But to those who were listening, as opposed to worshipping, it was obvious. We went expecting musical brilliance. We got an excess of volume, a poor vocal performance, and the musical ability shown by certain members of the band was roughly equal to that of Jimmy Osmond.
I am, ofcourse, referring to Rainbow, and in particular Ritchie Blackmore. Ritchie was, at one time, the best guitarist in the world, even managing to top the poll in last year's MM reader's poll, a credit that, at the time, was well deserved. Now I'm afraid that it is time for Ritchie to rest on his laurels and retire. As a younger generation starts to attend his concerts, Ritchie must find something fresh, or give up.
Maybe this was the band's way of paying back the London crowd for the violent behaviour at Wembley last year, but so much talent inherent within it, trying to out-Motorhead Motorhead is ridiculous. Get wise, Ritchie, or get out.
J. Clark, Bromley, Kent / Melody Maker Letters - 15 July 1981
De Montfort Hall, Leicester 15 July 1981
Congratulations, Rainbow! Quite the best show I've seen from you yet. I'm talking of Wednesday, July 15 at Leicester, when for the first time we didn't have to queue around the block for an hour to get in. When for the first time ever, Rainbow played for two nights so there was room for everyone to breathe. When for the first time ever, the support band came on at 7.30 pronto (Checks watch in case of impaired vision!).
Rose Tattoo certainly attacked the crowd with as much subtlety as a 10 ton sledgehammer, making even the mighty Saxon look pale as support band. They played an immaculate set at the end of which we all settled back to the inevitable one or two hours wait. During which time an endless string of roadies wander across stage gripping one cable or another, quite happy to womble about until the great RB is ready.
But wait, it's only half an hour since Rose Tattoo left the stage. They can't be on yet surely...
They bloody well are! Maybe we'll get the last bus without missing half the set, like last time!
Like I said, it must be the best concert I've ever seen from Rainbow. They were tighter than ever before, and the sound mix was the best I've heard from any band ever. I much preferred the pyrotechnics to the mindless guitar mayhem the great RB usually confers on his adulating acolytes. There were no Ritchie remains hanging from the rafters that night, and I for one was far from being disappointed.
All praise to Joe Lynn Turner and Bob Rondinelli, who despite yells for Bonnet and Cozy from a mindless few, sang and played as well, if not better, than their predecessors. It was so nice to hear 'Catch The Rainbow' SUNG, instead of SCREAMED!
Maybe next time we'll be able to see Rainbow in the comfort of the De Montfort Hall where one of only five foot (me) can opt to pay for a seat and be treated with perfect courtesy rather than play £4.50 for a superb view of hairy armpits and necks, in cattlemarket conditions. Rock gigs are expensive, we're entitled to a decent view, whatever our height!
See you at the De Montfort Hall next year Rainbow. Keep up the good work.
A Small Rugby Rainbow Fan, Sounds Letters - 1 August 1981
City Hall, Newcastle 23 July 1981
A year had passed since Ritchie Blackmore and Rainbow last graced the stage of Newcastle City Hall, and things had yet again changed in the band. Graham Bonnet and Cozy Powell both resigned to pursue other projects following a very successful performance at the first Monsters of Rock festival at Donington. The new line-up was Rainbow Mk VII and featured Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Roger Glover (bass), Don Airey (keyboards), Bobby Rondinelli (drums) and Joe Lynn Turner (vocals).
Their UK tour called at the City Hall for two nights, and I attended the first night, on 23rd July 1981. Support came from Rose Tattoo, an Australian hard rock and roll band, fronted by bald-headed and heavily tattooed Angry Anderson, who went on to major solo success with the power ballad “Suddenly”. I remember that there was quite a buzz about Rose Tattoo at the time, so I made a point of watching their set, and pretty good they were too.
By now I was getting used to the ever changing format of Rainbow, and I’d heard the single “I Surrender” which gave the band another big chart success. Joe Lynn Turner was another great front man and vocalist and took the band even further in the direction of classic AOR and even bigger success around the world. This was another amazing performance by Blackmore and the band.
UK Tour 1981
Ingleston, Edinburgh, July 10th / 11th 1981
The sets in the UK followed the pattern set in Europe: Spotlight Kid / Love's No Friend / I Surrender / Man On The Silver Mountain / Catch The Rainbow / Can't Happen Here / Lost In Hollywood / Difficult To Cure / Long Live Rock'n Roll. Encores: All Night Long / Rule Britannia / Smoke On The Water / Since You Been Gone / Fire, etc etc!
As we've had loads of reviews, we'll take snippets from these, to get as many views in as possible. Up in Scotland, fans had to contend with a less than perfect venue: "The main fault was the PA; I fear the engineers were jacking the sound up to much, and much of the playing and vocals were lost," writes Robert Strutthers,"Ritchie didn't seem too happy either - fiddling with his amps, holding his guitar up to his ear, and giving someone stage right the look. Things were better in the quiet bits though. The drum solo was quite interesting, ripping off John Bonham a lot (a comment echoed by a lot of people) but powerful bass drumming."
David Kelly also saw the band there:"I thought they (or he) were quite good, bearing in mind the restrictions that the generally poor material places on them. Ritchie entertained himself with feedback, fancy vibrato etc during the vocals, working all around the riff but still holding the songs together. I loathed the LP, yet I found some songs were enjoyable, even when Ritchie wasn't soloing, and despite a trite vocalist. My faith in Rainbow is restored - esp. during 'Catch The Rainbow', though as usual I got stuck beside some fucker who wanted to talk about who he'd met in the bogs before the gig. 'Smoke..' got the loudest cheer, but he played it rather mechanically. Don Airey was underused I felt, only a short section prior to 'Difficult To Cure' where he played along with Blackmore showed what things could be like." The unknown song one or two of you asked about was 'Fire', a Hendrix song.
Granby Halls, Leicester, July 15th / 16th 1981
My own first sight of the new line-up came at Leeds. Though it wasn't a sparkling gig, and the failure of drum monitors caused a break midway, I still enjoyed the show, because Blackmore was well on form, turning out some particularly spine-tingling work in 'Catch The Rainbow'.
Leicester was something else; two class shows, the second being up there with the greats. Leicester always seems to get goodies - the 76 show there was superb, likewise in 77, when Ritchie hurled his strat right over the arc of the rainbow. Leicester 81 saw Ritchie pull out most of the stops - down on the knees, thumping the old bass pedals, up and down the PA, and so on, but somehow always managing to keep the show moving, rather than letting his antics split it up. Likewise his solos, which he extended at will, seemed to fit into the overall scheme of things whereas on the 1980 tour they had been often the only enjoyable part of the show.
As if to set things right at once, some of his best work came in the opener, with the 'cossack' bit, where Ritchie turned his fingers across the frets like he was leafing through a book. 'Love's No Friend' produced equally good solos, particularly at the end, where he just launched into his own little world, leaving the band to fend for themselves. In common with the other shows 'Lost In Hollywood' signalled party time, and the sets degenerated into a medley of greatest bits. Good fun, with lots of riffs to try and recognise, but the keyboard solo dragged for me.
Blackmore climaxed the show by holding his cheapo ($200) imported strat up, and gave the crowd his amazing 'shall I?' look. Receiving an affirmative, he took it to the top of the PA, and sitting astride the cabinets, smashed it to smithereens. He took the pieces back along the top of the PA and attacked the lights before tossing the bits to the mob below. An ace show. My only complaint was the ridiculous volume towards the end, my ears suffered for three days after! The band were booked to stay at the Grand hotel. Why? Because it's haunted! Airey and Glover didn't like it and went elsewhere.
Bingley Hall, Stafford, July 18th / 19th 1981
On to Bingley, with the addition of several hundred fans from Manchester, who were bussed down after the Belle Vue gig was changed. Promised a special cordoned off area at the front, they found it didn't exist, and had to join the crush. The canvas PA covers used at Donnington in 1980 reappeared too, where from I don't know - I thought Sounds had given them away as a prize. The presence of a video crew may have had something to do with it.
"Ritchie was in good shape, producing an amazing demolition. Standing by Glover, he hurled the strat like an arrow into the PA. He took the broken halves, held together by one string, and slung them over his shoulder to finish the encore! Cozy was at the second gig, and I think Bobby (well, it's easier than spelling his second name) knew it.
My main criticism is that the set was geared to the boppers, with the hit singles etc. Also, we knocked Whitesnake for only doing three new songs, so we ought to do the same for Rainbow. A new song could have replaced '..Silver Mountain' I feel. End of sermon!" Richard Whitehead.
Apollo Theatre, Manchester , July 22nd 1981
Manchester was a poor show. It pissed it down, so we huddled in a door way most of the afternoon, chatting with other members who had travelled over early to exchange tickets. No one seems to know why the venue was changed so late, as there had been talk of cancelling Belle Vue weeks before. Purple managed a good sound there back in 1974, so the official reason of poor acoustics seems a bit false. Fearful of having my camera trashed by the Apollo gorillas (who last year beat up the kids with the strat to sell it themselves outside), I lurk at the back.
The crowd are noisy, and impatient, and Rainbow fail to really respond, though Blackmore's guitar cut through the din to lift things up from time to time. The set is short, with only a perfunctory encore when we're all blinded by white light for 'Long Live Rock'n Roll'. Ritchie's manager does a short detour before doubling back to whisk Ritchie away from the Hyde Road exit, but not before Neil Cutler's mate does a Sweeney like chase to catch them at the hotel. Given a songbook to sign, Ritchie ponders it for a while, before crossing notes out and putting correct ones in! (The' Difficult To Cure' song-book came out in July, and has four hazy black and white live photos in. There was also sheet music for the single 'Can't Happen Here' with another live pic on).
Hammersmith Odeon, July 26th / 27th 1981
The London dates were hastily rearranged, after Ritchie had teased London fans by saying they wouldn't play there! Keith Dyce: "Saw them both nights, the second was better, though they were both pretty lousy. The sound was awful on the first night. I was quite impressed by Rondinelli, but Turner is a bit of a poseur even if his voice is better than Bonnet's - not hard! I wish they'd left 'Smoke..' out too, his guitar solo was non-existant. 'Love's No Friend..' was brilliant on the second night, and Ritchie took an extended solo at the end - couple of knocks of the tremelo arm and he was off; amazing. The solo in 'Catch The Rainbow' was great too."
Overall the tour was probably better than many people had expected, due, probably, to Ritchie's enthusiasm with his new cohorts, which inspired him to play a much more consistent tour. Turner is a lot more suitable than old Bonnet ever was, as for the drummer - well, I was never a great fan of Cozy, finding him a little too heavy much of the time, but I did curiously miss his power at times. Roger Glover looked happy, but only came out of the mix occasionally, though when he did it was good to hear. I wish he would ditch those horrible satin trouser things though! Two girl backing singers on stage at Newcastle? I don't believe it!
Darker Than Blue (issue 1), DPAS 1981