Rainbow performed on this day in 1981 at the Empire Theater in Richmond, Virginia.
This was the second date on the band’s Difficult to Cure Tour, undertaken to support the album of the same name. Difficult to Cure had been released just eighteen days previous on February 3rd. It marked yet another lineup shift for Rainbow, with Joe Lynn Turner and Bobby Rondinelli replacing Graham Bonnet and Cozy Powell respectively. Turner and Rondinelli’s joining the band returned Rainbow to its original Transatlantic character after the all-British Down to Earth lineup.
The setlist for the Difficult to Cure tour was mostly set from the start, but on some early dates “No Release” was also performed. This night happened to be one of them.
This concert is known to have been recorded; as there is no known recording of the concert the night previous, it’s the earliest known recording from this tour. It is in circulation online.
The venue at which the band performed, the Empire Theater (no relation to the Empire Theatre in Liverpool), was difficult to find. That’s because it’s undergone quite a few name changes in the day, and is now known as the November Theater after the couple who funded its restoration in 2011.
The theater had opened 100 years previous in December of 1911 and was converted in 1933 into a movie theater. Notably, it catered to the African-American community in Richmond, and some sources even state it allowed for a mixed-race audience, which would be highly unusual in the South in the early-to-mid twentieth century! It seats over 500 today, though I’m not sure what the capacity would be prior to renovations.
In 1974, the movies stopped and while some sites inaccurately state it was simply left empty until 1984, this was around the time that it came into use as a concert hall. Here are some of the other concerts which have taken place at the venue.
Today, its stage is once again in use according to its site, with the venue housing the Virginia Repertory Theatre company.