One of the greatest collaborations in the world of Rock occurred in the 70’s when DEEP PURPLE guitar wizard Ritchie Blackmore joined with vocal god Ronnie James Dio to create the mighty RAINBOW. This 1977 “On Stage” is a testament to great live shows of the band.
“Kill The King” is the concert opener from their; at the time not yet released “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” (amen). And damn does it sound great! Especially the organ comes across much better then in the studio and it really adds to their sound. Dio of course is as brilliant as ever, like always he proves that he is the greatest vocalist, no matter if it’s the 70’s or the new millennium, Dio is god (pun intended)! It’s an excellent choice for an opener, pretty risky since the audience didn’t know it, but a wonderfully powerful song.
Next up is a grand medley of “Man On The Silver Mountain”, one of the best RAINBOW tracks ever, played faster then in the studio here; “Blues” where the Man In Black shows his emotional guitarplay while the rest of the bands takes a break; and “Starstruck” which is a little too short here, and unfortunately the kick-ass riff is a bit hard to notice. Not a problem though, it’s instantly forgotten when the band starts the reprise of “Man On The Silver Mountain”.
Dio of course is awesome at involving the audience with the show, and during the medley he lets everyone know that they’re The Man! You do notice during his small introductions that his career is still (relatively) young compared to his later days, but already he is an excellent showman.
For their highly emotional ballad “Catch The Rainbow” the band takes almost twice as much time as in the studio, but the result is a perfect execution that one just has to hear. Blackmore is perfectly nailing the solos and they just seem to go on forever, pure bliss. In the form of “Mistreated” there’s also a cover present, naturally coming from PURPLE. Of course there is plenty of justice done to the original; it’s hard to imagine Dio not singing a song fantastically.
After this half hour of softer songs RAINBOW returns full force with the criminally underrated “Sixteen Century Greensleeves”, one of my favourite RAINBOW songs ever. This has to be one of the first Power Metal songs, and especially lyrically very typical for the much later invented style. The live delivery by the band is insanely good and definitely the highlight of the record, together with album closer “Still I’m Sad”
This “Still I’m Sad” is very different from the version heard on the first RAINBOW LP. First of all Ronnie James Dio is actually to be heard here, so it’s not an instrumental anymore, and besides that Toney Carey presents you with a master class in how to play a keyboard. It also offers everything you expect from a concert closing track, absolutely outstanding! Such a shame that a band like RAINBOW with Dio only existed for such a short time; but this live recording will keep the memory alive. And while not being part of the legendary live albums in the world of Rock, it could use some more appreciation. (Online September 15, 2005)