ALL NIGHT LONG RAINBOW TRIBUTE – Helsinki 14.1.2012

text VILLE KRANNILA

On a cold January evening at Tavastia club in the heart of Helsinki, familiar sound blasted through the PA. It was “Over The Rainbow” – an intro to hundreds of shows by Rainbow throughout the band’s existence in late 1970’s and early 1980’s. And not to forget they were also active in the mid-1990’s – if only for one album and extended tour – this intro was followed by “Wolf To The Moon” from group’s swansong 1995 offering. At 8 PM sharp, the house band stepped on stage and kicked things off to a rocking start.

rb2

photo by Ville Krannila

The “All Night Long” tribute evening was organized by the Perfect Strangers of Finland Deep Purple fan club. The idea was simply to present songs from Rainbow’s back catalogue, it being probably the most famous of Purple’s spin off bands. There are different tribute shows being held at different clubs but right away one could sense this was something special, performed by various musicians who held original artists in high regard.

Things continued appropriately with melodic masterpiece “Street Of Dreams” and the night was well on its way. The band did a great job replicating the tracks in their original form, even including some of the notes from familiar live jams heard from Rainbow’s live albums and bootlegs. Basically the only constant guy on stage was the keyboard player Okke Komulainen (Leningrad Cowboys), other members came and went, which obviously meant some extended breaks in between songs but the show still ran incredibly smoothly. Almost 25 songs in exactly three hours, with picks from each and every studio album in Rainbow’s extensive back catalogue.

The house band had previously played as a backing group for Joe Lynn Turner, Graham Bonnet and Doogie White on their solo tours in Finland so material was familiar to them. Members included vocalist/bassist Jukka Jay Lewis (Yö, Oz) and drummer Lacu Lahtinen (Michael Monroe). Among various guests of the evening were Anssi Kela on guitar, Tommy Oh (Red Car Driver) on vocals and Nikolo Kotzev (Brazen Abbot) on guitar. Couple of female backing vocalists rounded out the promising line-up.

As for the music, highlights of the evening are probably too many to mention, after all this is one of the greatest hard rock catalogues we are talking about here. We got all the hits and classics one could imagine, but also few lost gems which I was personally very excited to hear. “Stranded” from 1983’s “Bent Out Of Shape” was a pleasant surprise already at the Bonnet/Turner show few years ago, and having a second go at it tonight was no less thrilling. One my personal favourites! “Fool For The Night” from the same album was another good choice and that tune I don’t recall ever hearing live before. “A Light In The Black” is no stranger to live audiences in a sense that it was played regularly during the original “Rising”-era. However, no airings have taken place since then, so it worked as another great rarity that people seemed to like alot.

rb1

photo by Ville Krannila

It was also commendable that players decided not to exclude the final Rainbow-album “Stranger In Us All” which in all purposes was just as good as anything the band had released before. Three songs in all were played and I was glad to hear again a solid favourite “Black Masquerade” among the chosen ones. The rendition of “Ariel” was also spine chilling.

And who could go wrong with medieval rockers such as “Stargazer” and “Tarot Woman?” They blended in well with later more commercial cuts “Since You Been Gone,” “Can’t Let You Go” and “Stone Cold.” Vocalists for different eras of Rainbow were chosen well, with everyone delivering their parts faithfully. The only slight hiccups seemed to come when they switched that formula couple of times. Peter James Goodman was struggling somewhat with lyrics of “Still I’m Sad” and Tommy Oh had some pitch problems during “I Surrender.” Whereas the songs by their respective vocalists, Doogie White and Graham Bonnet they pretty much nailed down.

Various guitarists were all nothing but professional; Juha Tikka from Shades Of Purple handled the instrumentals “Difficult To Cure” and “Maybe Next Time” following closely to Blackmore’s footsteps while cutting down some of the lengthy improvisations done originally. Kotzev is no stranger to Rainbow tunes either and his playing on “Kill The King” was sublime. One could sense the upmost respect towards the source material from each and every player.

For final song and encore, all cast got up on stage to rock out with “Long Live Rock’n’Roll.” Some of the lyrics and chords were maybe not 100 % there but bear in mind this is a rock show, and people were having a great time. This kind of spontaneity and gigs like these are sorely needed. With Ritchie Blackmore seemingly happy to have traded his Stratocaster to flute and Ronnie James Dio having sadly passed away, it’s great people keep these songs alive and well through another decade. Myself, I loved being a part of it!

Setlist:

• Wolf To The Moon
• Street Of Dreams
• Stargazer
• Eyes Of The World
• Kill The King
• Spotlight Kid
• Lost In Hollywood
• Stone Cold
• Difficult To Cure
• Tarot Woman
• Black Masquerade
• Fool For The Night
• Jealous Lover
• Ariel
• Since You Been Gone
• Temple Of The King
• Maybe Next Time
• All Night Long
• Man On The Silver
Mountain
• Gates Of Babylon
• Can’t Let You Go
• I Surrender
• A Light In The Black
• Catch The Rainbow
• Stranded
• Death Alley Driver
• Still I’m Sad
encore:
• Long Live Rock’n’Roll

Comments

comments

About Ville Krannila