PHOTO: Steve Thorne | Getty Images
By Christopher Scapelliti
Ritchie Blackmore has announced he will tour with Rainbow in 2017, with four dates planned for the U.K.
The tour follows on the guitarist’s sold-out shows in Germany and Birmingham, England, earlier this year. Those were Blackmore’s first rock performances since 1997, when he launched his folk-rock ensemble Blackmore’s Night.
The group’s first gig of 2017 will see them headlining the second annual Stone Free Festival at The O2, London. It will be Blackmore’s first London show since 1995. The following three shows will take place in Manchester and Birmingham and in Glasgow, Scotland.
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow features Lords of Black singer Ronnie Romero, Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson, and drummer David Keith and bassist Bob Nouveau, both of whom perform in Blackmore’s Night.
Though the band’s previous shows featured a selection of songs by Rainbow and Deep Purple, Blackmore said recently that the Rainbow songs were better received.
“I noticed when they clapped, they weren’t clapping so hard for Deep Purple,” Blackmore told Radio Veronica last July. “They said, ‘We hear that every year’—’cause Purple goes around [on tour].
“So the next time, if we go out, I would probably do 95 percent Rainbow songs. That’s what they seem to want to hear.”
In the same interview, Blackmore complained that his vision was deteriorating and hinted at other age-related issues that were slowing him down.
“Optically, I’m deteriorating very fast, as we all are,” he said. “All my friends are passing away. Some of my enemies are passing away too. But we try and keep up with it.
“What I do is I limit how many times a week we play. For instance, this week, we’re playing, I think, twice. And normally, our agent would tell us, ‘To make money, you have to be playing five days a week.’ And I refuse to do that.
“I used to, with Deep Purple and people like that—I would be playing and traveling all the time, and it gets very tiring. But this way we’re very fresh to do our shows. So we’ll be working tomorrow, having four days off, and hopefully we’ll probably play for, like, four hours, ’cause we can do it, and then there’ll be another few days off.”
“And then we can do another long show, whereas in the old days, it was an hour and 20 minutes and we’re exhausted because we’ve gotta move on to the next town.”
The dates and locations for the four 2017 shows are below. We’ve include a video of Rainbow performing “Man on the Silver Mountain.” The clip comes from Memories in Rock—Live in Germany, a release that captures Blackmore’s long-awaited return to rock.
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow Live in the U.K.
June 17 – London, U.K. - The O2 (Stone Free Festival)
June 22 – Manchester, U.K. - Manchester Arena
June 25 – Glasgow, Scotland - The SSE Hydro
June 28 – Birmingham, U.K. - Genting Arena