Once upon a time there was a genuine guitar hero whose unique talent inspired a generation of rock gods.
His name was Ritchie and his fingers danced across the fretboard like a ballerina traversing the world’s greatest stages.
Riff after riff flowed from his magical digits and hit record followed hit record.
Ritchie cast a spell over his legion of fans and quickly became the king of classic rock.
However, one day a beautiful maiden crossed his path and persuaded him to take a different road.
The maiden’s name was Candice and her flowing blonde locks and haunting voice had Ritchie mesmerised.
Happily turning his back on the music that made his name, he imagined himself going back in time to an era when knee-high boots, tights and jerkins pre-dated spandex, denim and leather.
And they merrily went about their historical business with the help of a faux British queen, an array of flutes and mic stands adorned with vines.
Immediately lauded as the public face of the ‘renaissance scene’, Ritchie and Candice eschewed commercial success for artistic acclaim.
Indeed, even the devoted couple’s fiercest critics could not accuse their band, Blackmore’s Night, of ‘doing it for the money’.
A guitar player of Ritchie’s prodigious ability could earn a fortune beyond his fans’ wildest dreams playing the music that made his name.
However, Candice ensured the only hint of classic rock inside their grand New-castle came in the shape of mock boulders borrowed from the Spinal Tap set.
No Soldier Of Fortune, Ritchie did repay the faith of his original fans by playing a version of Stormbringer’s evocative ballad.
And for a brief, flickering moment the king of rock looked set to regain his throne. Yet Candice, a supremely talented songstress and endearing balladeer, is no Sir Coverdale of Saltburn (although the two clearly share the same coiffeur).
A joyous celebration of days gone by, Blackmore’s Night drew warm applause from at least 30% of the Tyne Theatre audience.
Indeed, Under A Violet Moon, Troika and the meandering Home Again medley warmed the hearts of those dressed like Robin Hood and his merry men.
Those schooled on Purple, Rainbow and the trademark sound of the legendary Stratocaster were, by contrast, left clinging to a snippet of Black Night and mentions of dear departed princes Dio, Lord and Powell.
However, king Ritchie looked happy. His fair maiden even happier. And there is, after all, a lot to be said for happiness. It’s just a shame nobody bothered to tell the grim-faced enforcer with SECURITY on his back and evil in his eyes. Then again, every pantomime needs a villain…
Will the legend of Ritchie and Candice have a fairytale ending? Only time will tell.
As visitors to the travelling court of Blackmore will attest, nobody can accuse Ritchie of living in the past. Plenty continue to question his decision to live so far in the distant past.
Exclusive Pictures By John Burrows @ishootgigs
Read an exclusive interview with Ritchie Blackmore here: http://bit.ly/1auPCXU