Castle Solingen,Germany
25th July 2002

The venue sounded a bit a bit like Castle Donnington so I thought what the hell!

Venue: a beautiful location with incredible views of the surrounding hills. The concert took place in the castle courtyard. The downsides were that it rained (intermittently), the sound system blew during the track Home Again and there was an irritating amplifier buzz during the mid section of the gig. It was hard to guage how many people were there as there was no seating - maybe 400 (certainly no priority seating for people dressed in mediaval garb tonight - ho ho!) The main downside however was the stage location and the fact there was no seating - the stage was located on the top of a slight incline in the courtyard. I thought the idea of the outdoor concert was to have the stage at the bottom of the incline to have that amphitheatre feel, with the audience looking down onto the stage. Most Germans seem to be over 6 feet tall but us Brits struggle. I sat on the fence by the mixing desk at the back.

The show was, I feel, very average. I wish they would play Shadow Of The Moon a little quicker - to me it is taken too slowly - even though Ritchie plays some beautiful slide and finger solos. He looked in pretty good mood throughout, but there was only one encore and no 16th Century Greensleeves. I think he only picked up the strat twice at most. The Marlborough show that I witnessed last year was going to be hard to beat. I guess my mistake was to only see the one concert on this tour, whereas we all know by now that to appreciate Ritchie to the full you have to catch him a couple of times, knowing that there's a good chance of catching both a sub par show and a blinder.

The concert was filmed for, apparently, an official DVD release - but I would be surprised if they released this gig as it lacked the incredible inspiration that Ritchie can sometimes provide. From previous Blackmore's Night reviews I've picked up the impression that Ritchie doesn't like playing standing only venues, so I was quite suprised that he played here; maybe that's why the show was so very average. Crowd response was reasonable (despite the rain) - though perhaps like me, as we all get older, they would prefer to be seated for this type of show.

The high point for me was not seeing Germans being invited onto the stage to dance during Home Again (which happened at Reading on the 2001 Blackmore's Night UK tour). I was hoping beyond hope that this time Candice would ask if there were any British people in the crowd to get up and dance (I am 100% confident I could dance just as badly as Rainer did at Reading last year, or maybe a bit better!).

Review: Mark Connolly

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