Ritchie Blackmore needs no introduction. Besides being, in my opinion, the most underrated guitarist in hard rock, Blackmore has been a fixture on the music scene for forty years, from his days with Deep Purple through Rainbow. About ten years ago the master of memorable riffs formed a band to explore his love of Renaissance music. Since that time Blackmore’s Night has been a fixture on the concert scene in Europe, playing everywhere form historic halls and castles to Renaissance fairs and outdoor arenas in Russia. Last year, the band filmed its first ever gig in Paris, and has just released a new DVD of that show, Paris Moon.
It shouldn’t work. It really shouldn’t. I mean, a Renaissance band? That dress in period garb? With a rock guitarist? I could have gotten into this as a kid playing Dungeons and Dragons, but now? I really shouldn’t have liked this. But I did. A lot. And as much as I respect and admire the virtuosity of Ritchie Blackmore and his frenetic guitar work, a lot of the credit falls squarely at the feet of Candice Night, lead singer and longtime girlfriend of Blackmore. Night is simply an amazing singer, with a pure, melodic voice. She’s at ease with the crowd, conversing with conviction rather than spewing out the usual crappy stage banter so prevalent at shows.
The “Introduction” starts off like the soundtrack for an 80’s sword-and-sorcery movie, but melds into a re-arrangement of a traditional English song, written by King Henry VIII. Things take off from there with a searing rendition of Jethro Tull’s “Rainbow Blues”. Other highlights include a cover of “Diamonds and Rust”, which Joan Baez, the original artist, reportedly said was the best version she ever heard. Another, more obscure cover, is of the Joan Osborne track “Saint Teresa”. Night pulls it off, rearranging the original melodic structure and working into the Renaissance milieu. “Play Minstrel Play”, “It’s Good to Be Back Home Again”, and “Under a Violet Moon” are rousing and upbeat, perfect tracks to accompany a stein full of mead. The whole band really melds well, and have evolved into a seasoned live act. It’s unusual to see Blackmore playing mainly acoustic guitar (though he does bring out the Fender a few times), but his prowess has not faded over the years. His nimble finger and fret work are at their peak.
The video looks sharp, perfectly capturing the eclectic lights and stage set. Though the crowd is heard throughout the show, the mix keeps the music front and center. The DVD has some extras including a short documentary. Packaging includes a lyric book and separate soundtrack CD.Powered by Sidelines