The review of the premiere concerts of freshly reactivated Monsters Of Rock Festival

It is a morning, 17th June 2016 in Sankt GoarsHausen over the Rhein River, Germany. All hotels are booked. The Bunches of hard rock fans started to appear on the streets of this beautiful, ancient, castle alike town, in the early morning. Monsters Of Rock Festival 2016 has begun, then.

Rainbow live 2016 photo Clemens Mitscher

Rainbow, fot. Clemens Mitscher

The tension could be felt in the air even the Rhein river is very high and rough what doesn’t happen often in this season. The ferry has been going through the River every 20 minutes and carrys rock fans to Loreley saint and glory place on the top of the mountain, on the right side of the river.  I shared the hotel with a bunch of Blackmore’s Rainbow Belgium fans and they stick with me for the rest of the day. Friday afternoon came already there. We took the ferry to the other side and continued to travel by the city bus to Loreley amphitheatre.

Sun and rain all the day, wicked weather and Rainbows were frequently witnessed on Loreley’s sky and it looked like heavens promotion of the forthcoming event. My free passes – courtesy of Ritchie Blackmore’s manager Carole Stevens have been waiting for me at the Loreley’s box office  – Great ! Through the mud and pouring rain – I am there, together with all that huge crowd wanting a magical heavy experience.

They started with Thin Lizzy – a legendary Irish rock band formed by Phil Lynott R.I.P in seventies – the applause is rocking out the Loreley place, the clouds are gathering, and the thunderous delivery of “Jailbreak” is just cracking the sky. Thin Lizzy – with legendary original founder Scott Gorham -g, Damon Johnson – an American guitarist of Black Star Riders, Darren Wharton – original Thin Lizzy keyman found in 80’s by legendary Phill Lynoth, Tom Hamilton – of Aerosmith bass, Scott Travis of Judas Priest – drums and absolutely increadible sounding frontman – Ricky Warwick  – of Black Star Riders, a Northern Irish musician with a great similarity to Phill Lynot’s voice  – vocal/guitar, they twist like in the old days. They had tremendous sound and volume and songs such as Angel of Death,  Rosalie ,The Boys Are Back in Town, and “Black Rose” with “Whiskey In The Jar” for the encore made the all wet Loreley audience dry hot immediately.

Thin Lizzy, fot. Chris Willow

Thin Lizzy, fot. Chris Willow

A short break for changing of the gear and we have Manfred’s Man Earth Band delivering excellent rhythm’n’blues fanky climate which is good to cool down the atmosphere. They presented a bunch of well known world hits by various artist with some excellnt freally Bruce Springstin’s cover “For You ” and  nice funky blues version of Davy’s on the “Road Again” by John Simon.

Suddenly the scene is totally changing, many technicians and stuff people are spinning around. Ritchie Blackmore’s personal technician Jim Manngard is doing his job too. The line of ENGL amplifires and the historical Ritchie Blackmore’s AIWA tape recorder used for the destortion and echo effects are brought in. The crowd is screamin “Ritchie Blackmore”  and “Rainbow”  frequently. The dark courtain has dropped down and we can see the huge, led modules constructed with rotating spotlights monster – the computer driven electronic Rainbow. The blast of light and dry ice exploded together with the first notes of “Highway Star” – a No. 1 Deep Purple hit from seventies. Rainbow has just deployed their rocket – Ritchie Blackmore”s Stratocaster sounds like in late seventies with the difference of modern solutions of the dynamic and depth which are adding some specyfic modern definition to the entire sound sequence.

R. Blackmore, fot. Clemens Mitscher

R. Blackmore, fot. Clemens Mitscher

The rest of the band is quite new, too. Bob Nouveau (Curiano) – ex Blackmore”s Night – bass, Jens Johansson – of Stratovarius – key, David Keith – of Blackmore”s Night – dr, Christine Lynn Skleros & Candice Night of Blackmore”s Night – backing vocals and increadible, gorgeus, thunderous and completly unknown before singer Ronnie Romero – of Lords Of Black – lead vocal. The comercial is over.

The band goes on with Rainbow’s 80s opener  – “Spotlight Kid” with marvelous shreding from Ritchie. Everyone is excited and Ronnie Romero announces a well known Purple bluesy song – “Mistreated”. The band sounds tight, the rhythm section is perfect, I can only complain on too little volume of guitar and organ but the solo is unbelivable good, spaces between the notes are just magical. The slow guitar part is just not from this earth. 71 years old Blackmore is doing excellent. The next song is a Rainbow hit from Graham Bonnet era called “Since You Been Gone” quite good number for singing together. And now Ronnie is screaming ” Ronnie Dio Is The Man….On The Silver Mountain and the band goes on with it. Very good contact with the audience, they sing together almost every song and “Man On The Silver Mountain” is dedicated to late Ronnie Dio R.I.P – nice move. It is followed up by “Difficult To Cure” an instrumental interpretation of Beethoven”s IX th with the exceptional sound and solo played with steel tube from Blackmore. When we having the band introduction by Ronnie finished, Ritchie Blackmore takes over the mic and says ” I am not speaking throught the microphone much but want to introduce the incredible Ronnie Romero” and he smiles wide for the audience – they love it and react with an huge applause. And Rainbow is doing now Deep Purple”s covers ” Perfect Strangers” and “Chlid In Time” which is sung with way more freedom, expression and believe than Deep Purple”s current live versions which lack the unique presence and composing skils of Ritchie Blackmore. Young strong voice of Ronnie Romero backed up with Christine Lynn Skleros high “C” singing through the cilmax “Child In Time” screaming just knocks down. “Long Live Rock’n’Roll and “Stargazer” – rather slower than they were performed in seventies but played with a lot of feel, drama and freedome together with crowd backup singing make you feel like riding the rainbow in a magical kingdom of Man In Black. “Black Night” and “Smoke On The water with overwhelming Ritchie’s solos and fireworks show are ending up the day.  The crowd was red-hot inspite of that rainy weather.

Even Jens Johansson – Rainbow keyboard player was a bit lost in that, nighty rain and afterconcert chaos. I met him personnaly when he was wandering, with his suitcase, in the darkness and rain hoping to find his return bus. I asked him: “Hey Jens ! How you doing ? And he went: ” I am OK, everything is alright” but he looked pissed off because of that nighty chaos.

The walking home thing – in a deep mud (after a few days of pouring rain) will be long remembered together with historic concert of Blackmore”s Rainbow which was not present on a hard rok scenes of the world for 19 years.

Christopher Willow – The Messenger