Tour Guide: Memories in Rock 2018/Straight Through Europe

In my “tour guide” series, I’ll be setting up guides to certain tours by certain bands. This is an aspect of a project I have been undertaking in some form or other since the summer of 2017, with some collaboration. I hope it’s useful to fellow music historians and aficionados! 

Rainbow roared back to life in 2016 after twenty years of quiet. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore took some time off his current passion, medieval and renaissance music with the band Blackmore’s Night, to return to his roots with rock ‘n roll. In doing so, he joined a long list of Rainbow alumni who have spent time playing some of the old repertoire on their time off from their main project; notably, four Rainbow alumni toured with guitarist Jürgen Blackmore beginning in the late 2010s as Over The Rainbow.

Ironically, Over the Rainbow had more members of the former band than Blackmore’s current setup does. For these short jaunts around Europe, Blackmore has recruited singer Ronnie Romero, keyboardist Jens Johansson, and four current and former members of Blackmore’s Night (Bob Nouveau on bass, David Keith on drums, and Candice Night and Lady Lynn on backing vocals). The biggest difference between Blackmore’s project and others is that he has the name of the band.

The group has toured in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, usually branding the tour as the “Memories in Rock {insert year} Tour”. This one was also apparently called the “Straight Through Europe Tour”, though I’ve found less information on that

Backstage past for Rainbow's 2018 tour. Text includes (from top to bottom) "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow", "Straight Through Europe Tour 2018", "Artist access all areas". Includes photo of Ritchie Blackmore holding guitar.
Backstage pass for the tour. Retrieved from here.

This lineup has actually released a single new song, a cover of Rainbow’s first ever recorded song, and a cover of Blackmore’s Night. None of those have yet appeared onstage with the band to my knowledge. Instead, in 2018, setlists from these concerts heavily mine Rainbow’s first five albums, bolstered by cuts from Deep Purple. A single song from the era after Difficult to Cure, “Street of Dreams”, also made a single appearance.

Romero-era Rainbow’s studio output.

Response to the Memories in Rock 2018 Tour was very mixed. The actual musical chops of the group is heavily debated, with disagreement especially swirling around whether Blackmore could still handle some of the more demanding work and how capably Romero could pull off songs originally sung by Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, Graham Bonnet and others. Even I have thrown my hat in the ring after listening to one particular concert, which is linked below! The bottom line, I suppose, is that fans apparently enjoyed it a great deal. All but one of the concerts were sold out, and enthusiasm for the group was usually reported to be quite high.

Poster advertising the two Russian shows which began the tour. From left to right: Lady Lynn, Ritchie Blackmore, Jens Johansson, Ronnie Romero, Bob Nouveau, David Keith, and Candice Night. Retrieved from here.

The Tour

The band played a total of five gigs, all of which were recorded. They were on tour for less than two weeks in total. Later that summer, over half members went on tour again with Blackmore’s Night, which played a total of seven gigs.

Below is a chart of all their known gigs, planned gigs and TV appearances. There will be links taking you to gigs I’ve either covered or reviewed. Anything else pertinent (venue info from another gig, etc) will also be linked.

DateLocationRecorded?Other Info
2018-04-08Olimpijski Stadium, Moscow, RussiaAudio and videoHere
2018-04-11Ledovy Dvorets, St. Petersburg, RussiaAudio and videoHere
2018-04-13Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, FinlandAudio and videoHere
2018-04-18Velodrom, Berlin, GermanyAudio and videoHere
2018-04-20O2 Arena, Prague, Czech RepublicAudio and videoHere/Review

If you were at any of these gigs, please take this survey to help me better tell the story of this tour.

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One thought on “Tour Guide: Memories in Rock 2018/Straight Through Europe

  1. I was at a 2016 gig and the 2018 gig in Birmingham. The Sweet opened. They were fantastic. I loved em when I was a spotty kid in the 70s.
    Ritchie can still do his stuff. I loved both gigs. 2018 was probably better.
    Ronnie can belt out the tunes as good as any of the original singers.
    If Rainbow tour again after Covid, I’ll be in the queue for a ticket again.

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