Rainbow performed on this day in 1979 at the Spectrum Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Rainbow were at this time touring in support of their recently-released album Down to Earth. The album featured a radical shift in the group’s makeup, with newcomers Graham Bonnet, Don Airey, and Roger Glover joining Cozy Powell and Ritchie Blackmore. Glover’s membership in particular is remarked upon by audience recollections I have read. He had largely served as a producer since his forced departure from Deep Purple in 1973. Based on the reaction he gets from these recollections, it seems that fans were happy to see him again!
Interestingly, Rainbow were not the main attraction on this leg of the Down to Earth Tour. They served as the opening act for Blue Öyster Cult, who were themselves touring to support their new album, Mirrors. As such, Rainbow did not get a chance to play as much as they would later on tour. In fact, they only played five of their songs! Four of these five came from the newest album, ranging from the pop-y “Since You’ve Been Gone” to the extended epic “Lost in Hollywood”. The only song from the previous Ronnie James Dio era was “Long Live Rock and Roll”, which closed the concerts out.
Even on a shortened schedule, the band found time to enjoy themselves during “Lost in Hollywood”, with Ritchie Blackmore, Don Airey, and Cozy Powell all taking extended instrumental solos. Airey also played the keyboard intro to the piece, which often consisted of “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor”.
This show apparently sold a staggering 19,567 tickets! This would have pretty much sold out the Spectrum Arena, which according to Wikipedia seated at most 19,456. Recollections from those who viewed the concert were very sparse on specific memories, but both stated that Rainbow pretty much blew Blue Öyster Cult out of the water. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in particular was at the time eager to break into the US markets; such a performance would have served this goal very well.
A recording of this concert exists, and is in circulation online.
This was the first of three concerts Rainbow performed at the Spectrum, a venue famous both in the musical world and on the silver screen. I talk more about this legendary site here.