A Night In York

Blackmore's Night

VDR, 2012


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Ritchie Blackmore is celebrating his 15th year as a part of Blackmore’s Night, which is longer than he led Rainbow and approaching the length of time he spent as the lead guitarist of Deep Purple.

Blackmore’s Night was formed in 1997 by Blackmore and vocalist/girlfriend (now wife) Candice Night. They developed a unique and creative sound by fusing Blackmore’s hard rock background with traditional Renaissance music. While they have always been more popular in Europe and Japan than the United States, through constant touring and recording, they have steadily built a fan base in the US as well.

They performed at the York Opera House on September 30, 2011, and the recording of that concert has now been released as a CD (and DVD). In addition to guitarist/mandolin player Blackmore and vocalist/woodwind player Night, they are supported by keyboardist David Baranowski, bassist/rhythm guitarist Mike Clemente, violinist Gypsy Rose, drummer Squire Malcolm of Lumley, and bagpipe player Minstrel Albert.

This is a difference type of concert than their first two DVD/CD live releases, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Paris Moon and Castles And Dreams. Ten of the 14 tracks are from their last two albums, 2008’s Secret Voyage and 2010’s Autumn Sky so there is little duplication of material and this is a good complementary disc. The only negative is that unlike the first two live releases, this one does not present the full concert, as it has been edited down to 14 tracks and about 80 minutes worth of music. Still, what is here is a fine update on their sound and career.

They rock a little more in places than in the past, which is due in part to their last release, Autumn Sky, which had a harder edge than their previous material. While they remain in touch with their Renaissance roots, Blackmore’s guitar is more dominating on a number of tracks and some of the solos are a little longer than in the past. When Blackmore switches to the mandolin, it is a somewhat different story as it melds in with their older fusion of rock with Renaissance music. His mandolin work is superb and presents a difference side of his virtuosity, as it is precise and the clarity of each note is emphasized. Night’s voice remains one of the better instruments on today’s music scene.

The first few tracks cover a lot of territory. The Gregorian chant opening of “Locked Within The Crystal Ball” leads to some frenetic play by Blackmore, with Night’s vocal floating over the top. “Gilded Cage” is gentle with Night’s voice the center of attention. “The Circle” is a show piece for an extended Blackmore solo. “Journeyman” covers the middle ground and is representative as to what their band is all about.

An extended and building “Fires at Midnight,” the joyous “Toast to Tomorrow,” and the soothing and understated “Barbara Allen” are the heart of the CD and find the band and audience in their comfort zone.

Many times the group adds a well-known cover song to their repertoire. In the past they have included such songs as Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and The Kinks’ “Celluloid Heroes.” I might not have chosen to end the CD with the Bee Gees’ “First of May” but as a stand-alone track, it is a brilliant cover.

A Knight In York brings the live career of Blackmore’s Night up to date. It should appeal to their many fans and serve as a jumping-off place for new admirers.

Rating: B

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© 2012 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of VDR, and is used for informational purposes only.