RaynersLIVE, The Rayners Hotel, Rayners Lane, Harrow
Saturday 13th September 2003
When I saw the posters going up for this one at my local pub I couldn’t resist going along for a laugh. To me, the prevalence of tribute bands is a rather worrying trend, but I suppose that there must be a market for it (a flyer I received yesterday for the ‘Australian Pink Floyd’ has them playing the Royal Albert Hall!!). Having never seen a tribute band before I had no idea what to expect, but was intrigued to see how they would cope. Of course, hopes weren’t high- after all, how can anybody impersonate the ‘Master’.
A surprisingly large audience had gathered, most of who were on the wrong side of thirty (myself included!). Following Judy Garland’s obligatory intro, the power chords to Kill the King thundered through the PA and I must admit to shivers down the spine at hearing this classic performed live again after so many years. The guitarist ‘played’ Ritchie Blackmore to perfection and has all of his mannerisms down to a tee- not even acknowledging the audience once during the entire show! He must have spent hours studying videos: I was stunned to learn afterwards that he has never seen Blackmore perform live. The rest of the band can best be described as ‘soundalikes’, rather than ‘lookalikes’- the vocalist ‘being’ Ronnie James Dio (5 foot 4 inches), but he must be over 6 feet tall!
As their name implies the band perform mainly Dio-era songs, although they do throw in a smattering of the better known songs from later eras for good measure. I was surprised that they tackled the songs in a similar vein to the Rising tour, e.g. an extended Catch the Rainbow and a full blown Man on the Silver Mountain with a complete rendition of Starstruck in the middle. They were certainly not frightened to take on the challenge of the epic and grandiose songs.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did- close your eyes and you could be transported back over twenty-five years and it was worth the entrance money alone just to hear some of the finest rock songs ever written being performed live all over again. The sound was quite loud and the guitar seemed rather down in the mix, which makes a comparative assessment of the guitarists’ abilities rather difficult. However, I can only say that they performed the songs superbly and are a highly competent and professional-sounding set of musicians.
A lack of time meant that some songs were not included, but they have an extensive repertoire and it’s a shame that Gates of Babylon and Light in the Black had to be dropped.
I guess that the amount of enjoyment you will derive from this sort of show depends on how you approach it. Of course, we would all prefer to see Blackmore blasting out these songs in a live environment, but in the absence of that this really is the next best thing. If you are looking to have your musical boundaries extended then this is really not your bag. However, I couldn’t help but be carried along on a wave of nostalgia and with the aid of a few beers had a bloody enjoyable evening (and I guess that’s what it’s all about)!
If anybody is interested in checking them
out they have a website at rainbowrising.net
Alan Whitman - More Black Than Purple magazine - www.mbtp.freeserve.co.uk