Caught Live: Blackmore’s Blood, Live Rooms Chester 6th April 2018

This was a gig I hadn’t planned to go to, since my nights out are somewhat rationed and so when I found myself free this evening it was a choice of this gig or Martin Barre’s show at St Helens. Alas for the former Jethro Tull guitarist, the venue’s website had no tickets available on the day, so I decided to take in this show instead.

Blackmore’s Blood are a North-East based five-piece band, as the name suggests a tribute to Ritchie Blackmore. That means they play tracks from both Rainbow and Deep Purple, and the guy with the task of taking off Blackmore is guitarist Mal Midwood. There was no support, and the band were to play two sets with a brief interval. The turnout was respectable, made up mainly of people ‘of a certain age’ shall we say! Coming on at 8pm, they even used the ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ intro tape followed by that ‘Over The Rainbow’ excerpt as they prepared to strike up. Opening with ‘Burn’, the first thing that hit me was that guitar! Immensely loud, the sound was blasting me to smithereens from the word go. Mal Midwood did have a guitar tone which approached that of the Man in Black himself, playing solos which stuck largely to the template of the recorded versions. He isn’t quite as ‘fluid’ a soloist as the genuine article but in my view, nobody can sound quite like Blackmore although many have tried! He has, however clearly spent a long time studying Blackmore; he dresses like mid-70s Ritchie complete with the hat, and has the mannerisms down pat. One observation that only a real anorak (raises hand!) would have spotted is that the fretboard of his guitar was not ‘scalloped’ in the style of Blackmore himself, however.  They kept things on a high with ‘Kill The King’  and then ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ before slowing down with ‘Catch The Rainbow’.

What else was clear from this band was what a powerhouse drummer they have in Keith Moore. Anyone who’s seen the current Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and felt disappointed at the lacklustre tempo of their delivery would have loved this. He drove this band along with the fire and the fury of classic Cozy, supported ably by some tasty bass from Phil Findlay (who to me looked a little like Cliff Williams, but as far as I know the long-time AC/DC man never played a six-string bass!) The first time I heard keyboardist Andy Keys (is that his real name one wonders? 😀 ) was during the intro to ‘Tarot Woman’ – up to then his sound was almost completely obliterated by the guitar, at least from my spot on the barrier!

It wasn’t all classic Dio-era Rainbow in the first set however; they also covered the first three incarnations of Deep Purple with ‘Hush’, ‘When A Blind Man Cries’ (featuring some neat, gentle noodling from ‘Ritchie’) as well as ‘Soldier of Fortune’ and an excellent rendition of ‘Mistreated’. At this point I should mention the singer Jim McGinley; he strolled on looking for all the world like the manager but once he stepped up to the microphone he showed what a fine voice he has. Able to do justice to Dio’s material, he also made a good fist of both Gillan and Coverdale’s Deep Purple songs.

Blackmore's Blood at Chester Live Rooms

Blackmore’s Blood at Chester Live Rooms

The second set commenced with ‘Gates of Babylon’; the sound was a little less brutal for this part of the show but still with that guitar dominant. As such a storming version of ‘Highway Star’ once again had the keyboard solo part overwhelmed rather by the guitar, though when it came to that guitar solo it was played note-for-note as on record, something Blackmore himself rarely did! ‘Perfect Strangers’ followed (their only nod to the 80s output all night) before they did what we’d all come for: ‘Stargazer’. A tremendous rendition faithful to the record, save for the outro which featured guitar improvisation in place of the string section. Follow that? They did indeed, with ‘A Light In The Black’, and there was even a bit of a mix-up between guitarist and drummer in the solo spots, with ‘Ritchie’ not quite knowing when to come back in as the drummer shrugged. He still recovered it though and it didn’t quite fall apart! Even the ‘real’ Rainbow rarely played those two songs together, since Cozy complained that it left him ‘knackered’ in his words, so props to these guys for delivering both live every night!

The last stretch featured ‘Smoke On The Water’ of course, and ‘Black Night’ where ‘Ritchie’ got down another Strat off the top of his amp, why that was there wasn’t immediately clear until he played – this guitar was obviously there for bashing about purposes, as he gave the whammy bar plenty of welly, then subjected the Strat to all manner of abuses including playing it with his foot in true Blackmore style. He didn’t smash it though, nor did he blow up that amp which would have taken authenticity a bit far (!)

Last number was ‘Long Live Rock n Roll’ after which the band took their bows and came out to chat – even ‘Ritchie’, who by rights should have slipped away unnoticed! This was a top-value set packed with plenty of classics and all played with the power and even the menace that classic Blackmore used to bring. If you’re a Rainbow fan of old, or even if you only discovered them long after Blackmore and Dio parted company, this band is well worth checking out. Recommended.

Blackmore’s Blood Facebook page

4 – Deserving

Setlist part 1:

  • Burn
  • Kill The King
  • Man On The Silver Mountain
  • Catch The Rainbow
  • Hush
  • Soldier of Fortune
  • Tarot Woman
  • When A Blind Man Cries
  • Mistreated

Setlist part 2:

  • Gates of Babylon
  • Highway Star
  • Perfect Strangers
  • Stargazer
  • A Light In The Black
  • Smoke On The Water
  • Black Night
  • Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
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3 thoughts on “Caught Live: Blackmore’s Blood, Live Rooms Chester 6th April 2018

  1. Hey ronster! Thank you so much for the very kind review. (especially the generous appraisal of my own efforts.) So glad you enjoyed the show, as did the band, being knocked out by the warm reception we received. I don’t know if we spoke (?) Before or after, but I can only say I had some lovely conversations with some lovely people. It was a very enjoyable night indeed!

    I’m sorry to hear there was a sound imbalance front of house. it’s hard for us to know this as we are working with our monitor mixes, and this, and foh, are controlled from the in-house desk. It’s a shame, as you always want things to be perfect (or as near as possible!).

    We were also so pleased to see a few more people than last time and hopefully this trend will continue at future dates there. It’s a great venue to play and would be unbelievable with a full-house im sure.

    Take care buddy, and if you’re at a future Blackmores Blood gig, please introduce yourself as I owe you a pint mate!

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    • Hey Keith
      No we didn’t speak, I chatted briefly to Jim your vocalist (and forgot to mention in my blog post the impromptu drum solo that took place after the gig!) but got off soon after.
      TBH the sound at that place can be a bit hit and miss, I go there frequently and usually it’s the bass that wallops you! Gotta confess the old ears were ringing for a bit afterwards!
      Lastly I’m probably being a bit unfair on RB’s current drummer, I saw the current incarnation in 2016 and I believe he’s playing that way to instruction. But as Coverdale always says, the drummer ‘drives the band’!
      Will be back next time you come around, bit of trivia is that Blackmore himself was banned from the Liverpool Empire after playing there with Rainbow in 1977. Was a little bit before my time though!
      Cheers!

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      • ha! well he did play for “the loudest band in the world” before he formed rainbow! look forward to seeing you next time mate.

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