Live at The Reading Concert Hall
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In the intimate surroundings of Reading Concert hallóin the recently refurbished Reading Town HallóBlackmoreís Night took us on a musical journey through the ages. With a stage set resembling castle ramparts and torch flame effects providing a medieval backdrop for the concert, the audience, many of whom were dressed in medieval costumes, were entranced by the guitar skills of the legendary Ritchie Blackmore and the equally impressive vocal talents of Candice Night.
Following the earlier set from the progressive rock band Mostly Autumn, the audience was taken on a musical discovery from 14th Century Spain, through provincial France, right up to the more recent 'Purple' times. Ritchie, surrounded by an array of guitars, lutes and mandolins, provided the icing to the excellent musical accompaniment of Chris Devine on electric and acoustic violin, mandolin, and guitar, and Carmine Giglio on keyboards.
Candice, stunning in her purple medieval costume, maintained a close connection with the loyal audience throughout the performance, providing a brief history to each of the tracks with some interesting and sometimes witty anecdotes about them. Audience participation appeared high on the bandís motivation, especially with this being the last of the bandís concerts in Ritchieís home country. Mid-way through the set members of the audience joined the band on stage for the popular "Coming Home" and a number of times we were asked to choose the next offering from the band.
The concert flowed effortlessly, tracks often beginning quietly before developing into a rocking instrumental, the band playing classics from all three of their albums, Shadow of the Moon, Under a Violet Moon and Fires at Midnight to widespread acclaim. The title track to their second album "Under a Violet Moon" and "Storm" rocked the audience and displayed the legendary talents of the bandís famous guitar hero.
"Minstrelís Hall," "Catherine Howardís Fate" and "Play Minstrel Play" gave the opportunity for the whole band to show off their musical talents in a mixture of styles and tempos that kept the audience enraptured.
For those loyal Blackmore fans in the audience out came the old faithful Fender strat for a sprinkling of classic Blackmore composed Rainbow and 'Purple' tracks, which were sensually sung by Candice leaving us all remembering those classic rock years with nostalgia. Ritchie even performed the Dylan favourite "Times Are A Changin," with that infamous Blackmoreís Night sound, again superbly supported by Candiceís sensitive vocal delivery.
As the two-hour performance drew to its inevitable close there was widespread applause throughout concluding with a thunderous audience response. The latest Blackmoreís Night album will delight current enthusiasts, further expand the band's following and remind us all of the guitar talents of this legendary rock hero.
[Editor's Note: This is the first of a multi-part feature on Blackmore's Night. Our review of the band's entire catalog and exclusive Musical Discoveries interview with Candice Night is available here.]
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