Rainbow – Miami 1976 (Rising Arrow-057)

Miami 1976 (Rising Arrow-057)

Jai Alai Fronton, Miami, FL, USA – July 15, 1976

Disc 1 (49:11) Over The Rainbow, Kill The King, Mistreated, Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, Catch The Rainbow, Man On The Silver Mountain

Disc 2 (45:51) MC, Keyboard Intro, Stargazer, A Light In The Black, Still I’m Sad incl. Keyboard Solo, Drum Solo feat. 1812 Overture. Bonus Track: Blues (with Ronnie James Dio)

I came across this title as kind of a mistake, I was reading about a couple recent Rainbow titles and looking at what is available from the 1976 North American tour to support Rising as I mostly have boots from the much heralded Japanese tour. I listened to a few snippets online and next thing you know I’m placing an order. I had certainly intended to review the Burbank boot as it had been in my player in steady rotation, then this Miami title arrived and was instantly pulled in by it. There has been only one previous silver boot of this gig, Miami 7.15.76 (DP-021-1,2) and I also see a CD-R title Miami Wizard (No Label 2012), obviously I have neither, my loss as this is a scorcher of a show.

The recording is an audience source, a very good one at that, yet sadly incomplete certainly missing the encore. The instruments are clear enough in the mix, guitar being the cleanest, the drums and bass do get a bit murky at times especially when the band is playing full force. The vocals and keyboards are also clear, despite the rhythm section being a bit murky this is a very powerful and very enjoyable recording that sounds great loud as well. Not only is the recording good, the performance is staggering, Ritchie is aggressive and slaying us with his brilliant musicianship.

After the always wonderful introduction by Miss Dorothy Gale the band take the stage and rip into Kill The King, you know it’s gonna be good as soon as Ritchie gets into the solo, he’s going for the King’s blood for sure. Of course Ronnie’s vocals are so beautiful, the notes are soaring. The 6,500 capacity Jai Alai Fronton is not full by any means for Rainbow’s first appearance in Miami, Ronnie acknowledges this, “Thank you the first time in Miami or Florida for that matter for Rainbow. There’s not too many of you but the ones here are something else, you bitchin! Like most of these places you smell good things, anybody smoking anything in hear? (audience cheers). Yeah thought so. We’d like to do a song for ya written by Ritchie….Mistreated”. His intro elicits random cheers and shouts from the crowd, Blackmore starts with a quiet few notes before an aggressive flurry of notes and that iconic opening riff. This song is not just a Ritchie show, the entire band play an incredible version, from soft to rough in an instant. Of course it’s Ronnie’s passionate vocals who are in my head, his phrasing and tone coupled with lyrical improvisation are stunning. There is a quiet harmony of vocal and guitar at the end which is worth the price of the set on its own.

The bombast of Sixteenth Century Greensleeves, Ritchie takes his time with the gentle opening, the piece believed to be written by King Henry the VIII for his love Anne Boleyn, the first two verses of this song seem to tell this story. I love how Ronnie’s vocals get more aggressive the longer the song goes on, as does the music. Ronnie asks the crowd what they think of the rainbow, you can get an idea of the size of the audience when the whole rainbow lights up, the crowd may be small but they are into the concert. While I love the heavy aspects of Rainbow, I always look forward to hearing Catch The Rainbow in the live setting, there is only one Rainbow singer who did the song justice, the man who co-wrote it. I should also give praise to the late Jimmy Bain, his quiet harmony vocals are perfect and add depth to the song, as well as others during the set. Once Ritchie is free of the mellowness of the beginning, he takes the music to another level, 12 minutes of musical bliss.

Ritchie gets into a hoedown as a lead in to a noodling of the Lazy riff before hitting the iconic riff of Man On The Silver Mountain. Certainly the band’s signature song to the masses, the tempo is faster than on the debut LP but it works like a battering ram of force pummeling the listener. The center part features Ronnie vocalizations with a Tony Carey accompaniment that is a short interlude before the heavy ending, the song gets a huge ovation. Ronnie holds up a fan made banner that elicited cheers from what sounds like the tapers or fans directly near them. This is the quiet before the storm so to speak, this portion of the show will feature some of the most furious playing of the evening. Tony Carey has a brief keyboard solo to begin, the keys fade and Cozy kicks in with the thundering drum pattern of Stargazer. The drum pattern, the haunting keys, the iconic Blackmore riff with Middle Eastern flair, and those vocals all intertwined into nine minutes of perfection. Half the way through the band locks in and Ritchie weaves his magic, no note overplayed just doing the piece total justice. The return to the coda features Ronnie just effortlessly hitting these long winded soaring vocalizations, stunning. Cozy hits another drum Que and the band blast into A Light In The Black with the effect of mass devastation, his energy during this song is incredible, the double bass drum attack is like a stampede of which you cannot escape, pure fury. Tony does a synth solo followed by an organ solo, the latter being much more effective. Ritchie gets his solo starting with the full band which evolves into a guitar only portion giving Cozy a chance to catch his breath, no noodling here just pure speed which only increases as the band join back in, a breath taking piece of music. 

Ritchie plays a retrospective piece as a lead in to the final song of the main set, like his days with Purple, the last song would be a vehicle for band jam, for this era of Rainbow the song is their cover of the Yardbird’s chestnut Still I’m Sad. Rainbow’s version bears no resemblance to the original save for both have a haunting quality. The Yardbird’s original is pure dirge, Rainbow’s version is an aggressive powerhouse, Blackmore’s playing is incredible pulling out some great Hendrix bombs as he puts on a show before leaving it to the band beginning with Tony Carey and Cozy Powell, the latter puts on a master class in drumming including his version of the 1812 Overture. Never mind listening to a Cozy drum solo, the hall acoustics add some nice echo to the sound, he again showcases his hard hitting style and mastering of the double bass drum. The recording fades as the song is ending, the remaining two minutes of tape is a blues piece that has a different timbre to the main recording, perhaps a different show or different source, whatever its origin is a great snippet giving us a bit of Ronnie singing the blues which he handles with ease. 

The packaging is rather bland looking, like old pictures in aged frames. The photos used are excellent though, there is a live shot on the interior cover, shot front of stage that is just stunning, complete with the Rising album cover superimposed over. Of course there are picture discs and numbered sticker, all housed in a slim line jewel case. Stunning performance and an excellent title.    

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