Blackmore's Night is a British-American traditional folk rock duo led by former Deep Purple and Rainbow member Ritchie Blackmore and his wife Candice Night. They have already recorded eight albums to date. Since their debut Shadow Of The Moon (1997) they actually never performed in England until September 30, 2011 when they gave a concert at the Grand Opera House in York. Maybe they thought this event to be a good reason to record this concert for a CD and DVD release. A selection of songs taken from this concert has now been released as A Knight In York. Like many other live records this one will also be available in several formats. There's a special DVD plus Digipack Delux-edition, a CD jewel case, a DVD and a Blu-ray as well as a double vinyl, and a limited edition fan pack. I got a version on CD and DVD to review.
On this third Blackmore's Night DVD, Ritchie Blackmore (electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, mandola, hurdy gurdy) and Candice Night (lead vocals, renaissance wood winds, penny whistles, tambourine) take their devoted audience on a musical journey through the ages. However, this can't be done without their band of minstrels that includes mostly musicians with rather weird nicknames like Earl Grey Of Chimay (bass, rhythm guitar), Bard David Of Larchmont (keyboards, vocals), Squire Malcolm Of Lumley (drums, percussion), Gypsy Rose (violin, harmony vocals) and Minstrel Albert (various medieval woodwinds). But what's in a name if they deliver a strong 90-minute performance? The DVD shows that the stage was prepared for this occasion with hay stacks and other props that made the setting right for the kind of music Blackmore's Night performs, namely Renaissance inspired folk music!
During this concert the band continue their habit of combining traditional and modern instruments. Their musical journey includes mostly songs from their latest albums Secret Voyage (2008) and Autumn Sky (2010). Towards the end of the concert you get a real surprise when Blackmore and Night perform together an interpretation of First Of May, a rarely played ballad originally recorded by the Bee Gees in 1969. However, they also perform songs from their previous albums of which I have to mention the classic Fires At Midnight (2001).
If you're familiar with the music of Blackmore's Night you know what to expect: uplifting music with lilting melodies and the enchanting vocals of Candice Night. Blackmore's guitar is always present, but don't expect any riffs in the vein of Deep Purple or Rainbow, although his Stratocaster gets fired up occasionally. His playing is remarkably restrained and subdued, but his acoustic passages are as sharp and beautiful as ever. Having said that, there are still passages wherein Blackmore unleashes some fiery guitar solos like in the up-tempo folk rock piece The Journeyman, showing why he's still a guitar hero. Another good example is The Circle that contains some traces of Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers!
The music of Blackmore's Night has always been influenced by gypsy music. This can perfectly be heard on Toast To Tomorrow. Before they began this song the keyboard player is introduced as Lady Gaga wearing the same kind of wig this diva does. It's one of the many funny moments on this DVD; especially the interaction between Ritchie and Candice is sometimes hilarious. Another precious moment is when their one-year old daughter Autumn enters the stage and is cuddled by their parents.
I read that the ninety minutes of footage on this DVD is only a part of their performance at the Grand Opera House in York. Unfortunately they didn't include the entire concert. The only extra called A Day In Work can't compensate the loss of the unreleased concert footage. This extra footage of only three minutes is nothing more than just a short tourist film about the city of York. However, even the shortened version of this concert is a fine one to watch. The camera work and the audio meets the standards we are used to nowadays. Therefore it deserves a positive judgment. This also applies to the audio CD; you can enjoy the same part of this concert on one single disc.
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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