Passionskirche, Berlin.
April 26th 2002

About eight years ago I stopped contributing to Darker Than Blue magazine because I felt that Ritchie Blackmore was treated unfairly there. Now that the whole Ritchie-vs.-the-rest-of-Deep-Purple debate has largely subsided, I feel at ease contributing to DTB again. Why am I mentioning this? Because after boycotting DTB for the aforementioned reason my first new contribution is ironically a slagging-off of a Blackmore show.

Blackmore's Night played at the Passionskirche in Berlin on April 26th, 2002. Due to other commitments I arrived rather late at the venue, and all the seats had already been taken. The only place where I had a good view of the stage was in an aisle on the balcony. Here my problem started: next to me there were a few "middle-aged" people in suits and ties and evening dresses: and it sort of appalled me what audience Blackmore draws these days. This is certainly a point of minor relevance but the music isn't.

I have to admit that acoustic music is not really my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed the earlier Blackmore's Night albums and tours. At this concert for the first time it really occurred to me that there's not much variation in the songs, especially as far as tempo and melody are concerned. I was bored. It didn't help to see people swaying from side to side in German Volksmusik fashion, a genre of music which I absolutely loathe.

My interest in the show was back when they played the first electric song, "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves". The sound of the Stratocaster was so bad in the balcony that you could hardly hear anything, so I went downstairs when another electric number, "Fires At Midnight", followed. It wasn't really worth bothering, though. Last year at the show in Memmingen, Blackmore played a jaw-dropping solo in that song, this tme he left it to the violin player. The saving grace of many Blackmore's Night shows in my view is Blackmore's electric playing, so with the lack of proper electric playing the shortcomings of the show become all the more apparent.

The acoustic boredom continued for the rest of the show, an endless succession of similar songs without climax, or anything. I enjoyed just one song during the whole show, "All Because Of You" - it was a little bit more up-tempo and benefited from some electric playing, no scintillating solo required here. By the way, "Black Night" prompted the suit-and-tie-and-evening-dress people to leave...maybe it was too loud. To be fair, I I have to say that most of the audience and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves a great deal.

review: Helmut Gerlach

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