Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow coming to O2 Arena

The re-formed heavy metal band will play Rainbow and Deep Purple classics

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow will be at Prague's O2 Arena on April 20, 2018, for their only show scheduled so far in Central Europe. The tour is billed as Memories in Rock. Tickets go on sale to Live Nation club members Oct. 26 at 10 am and to the general public Oct. 30 at 9 am.

Blackmore, the former guitarist of Deep Purple, formed the heavy metal band Rainbow in 1975 and the band was active until 1984, and then again with a new lineup from 1994 to '97 when Blackmore switched from heavy metal to Renaissance music. He then started touring with Blackmore's Night featuring his now-wife Candice Night. Before 2016, the last Rainbow show was in Esbjerg, Denmark, on May 31, 1997.

And while Blackmore's Night has a strong cult following and fills intimate, medium-sized venues, there has been increasing demand from Blackmore's fans to hear some of the old rocking Rainbow material in an arena setting. Blackmore created another new lineup for Rainbow in late 2015 with Lords of Black singer Ronnie Romero, Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson, Blackmore's Night drummer David Keith and bassist Bob Nouveau aka Bob Curiano.

This group played a small number of music festivals in 2016 in Germany and the UK, and a few more dates in the UK in 2017, but Blackmore said it was “just for fun.”

The announcement of a more extensive tour has come as bit of a surprise. The band is also recording new material, which is another surprise as Blackmore had been not noncommittal on the idea.

There is a new live album and DVD from the 2016 shows in Germany called Memories In Rock - Live In Germany, released in a variety of formats including a double CD, a DVD, a three-LP set on vinyl, and a package with a hardbound book.

The band in 2017 also released a similar double CD album called Live in Birmingham 2016.

Blackmore is the only member to have been in all of the Rainbow lineups, and the only original member currently with the band. The original singer from Rainbow, Ronnie James Dio, died in 2010.

On the dates in Germany, Rainbow played a number of old Deep Purple songs as well as his Rainbow hits. “I noticed when they clapped, they weren’t clapping so hard for Deep Purple,” he said in July 2016 in a widely quoted interview from Dutch radio. “They said, 'We hear that every year,' because Purple goes around. So the next time, if we go out and we do anything, I would do probably 95 percent Rainbow songs. That’s what they seem to want to hear. And it didn’t occur to me. I just naturally assumed they wanted to hear everything.”

The setlists from subsequent shows so far still include a good number of Deep Purple hits including “Smoke on the Water” and “Soldier of Fortune,” but some Purple songs like “Highway Star” have been dropped. The list of course also includes Rainbow classics like “Man on the Silver Mountain,” “Stargazer” and “Catch the Rainbow.”

Blackmore has previously said that Prague is one of his favorite cities to visit, and Blackmore's Night has played the Czech Republic often, with shows near castles and in towns with historical centers such as Český Krumlov. The Blackmore's Night song Cartouche is named for a restaurant in Prague with historical décor.

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