This release includes both a CD and DVD of Rainbow’s headline set at the inaugural Monsters of Rock festival back in 1980. The show was the culmination of the band’s tour in support of the hugely successful ‘Down to Earth’ album released the previous year. This would be the last show that this line-up would play together - Graham Bonnet on vocals, Richie Blackmore (naturally!) on guitar, Roger Glover on bass, the legendary Cozy Powell on drums and Don Airey on keys.
The CD starts with the famous ‘Wizard of Oz’ intro before the opening strains of ‘Eyes of the World’ begin proceedings proper. Despite the sound being slightly off at the very beginning of the track, it is clear that the band are polished and very tight, leading to an excellent rendition of one of the best tracks from ‘Down to Earth’. One of the massive hits from the same album, ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, follows and receives a rapturous response from the huge crowd.
Next up are a brace of songs that Ronnie James Dio recorded. To my mind, Dio is one of the all time great rock vocalists and the tracks, ‘Stargazer’ and ‘Catch the Rainbow’, are amongst the best that he recorded with Rainbow. Together, the two tracks encapsulate the musical spectrum that Dio’s Rainbow encompassed, from the brooding, teutonic heaviness of ‘Stargazer’ to the gentle romance of ‘Catch the Rainbow’, and Bonnet manages to perform both with equal aplomb.
From here, things get somewhat disjointed. ‘Lost in Hollywood’ bookends a guitar solo from Blackmore, featuring elements of ‘Difficult to Cure’ which was destined for the 1981 album of the same name, an almost cabaret style keyboard solo from Airey and a drum solo from Powell based around Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. We then get a snippet of Purple’s ‘Lazy’ which segues into the other huge single from ‘Down to Earth’, ‘All Night Long’. The track opens conventionally enough before Bonnet tries to encourage a sing-along with mixed results and, rather surreally, name checks Robin Day and Percy Edwards, before requesting mushy peas!
A short bluesy instrumental from Blackmore follows before, again somewhat strangely, the band perform a version of The Shirelles ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’. Hardly headbanging stuff and it must have left a fair proportion of the audience bemused. Fortunately, the normal order of things is restored by a storming version of ‘Long Live Rock n’ Roll’, the closing track and possibly the best suited to Bonnet’s voice of the Dio era material.
The DVD is around half an hour long and features edited versions of 'Lazy', 'All Night Long', Catch The Rainbow', 'Eyes of the World', 'Will You Love Me Tomorrow' (apparently a request from Blackmore for it to be played), and 'Long Live Rock n' Roll', plus a Blackmore solo that highlights his virtuosity as well as his impressive (!) range of facial expressions and a Hendrix-esque finale in which the guitarist destroys his instrument and ignites an amp. As well as providing visual accompaniment to the music, I think the DVD proves interesting as a document that illustrates where heavy rock and metal was 36 years ago, the way it was performed and how it has evolved into a multitude of styles and sub-genres over the intervening 36 years.
Rainbow were the first band I got into as a young rocker and this CD/DVD set reminds me why. Although I was more of a fan of the Dio era, this release provides plentiful evidence of the consummate musicianship that the band had within its ranks, including Graham Bonnet who had his own style and adapted it well to the more commercial direction that Rainbow were headed in. Even though, as stated above, the set becomes disjointed at times, when the band are in full flow it is truly impressive in both sight and sound.
Eagle Rock Entertainment
MONSTERS OF ROCK - LIVE AT DONINGTON 1980
Review by Dave Uphill
22nd April 2016
DVD: 1) Lazy; 2) All Night Long; 3) Catch the Rainbow; 4) Eyes of the World; 5) Ritchie Blackmore Guitar Solo; 6) Difficult to Cure; 7) Will You Love Me Tomorrow; 8) Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
CD: 1) Intro/Eyes of the World; 2) Since You Been Gone; 3) Stargazer; 4) Catch the Rainbow; 5) Lost in Hollywood/Guitar Solo; 6) Difficult to Cure/Keyboard Solo; 7) Drum Solo/Lost in Hollywood (Reprise); 8) Lazy; 9) All Night Long; 10) Blues; 11) Will You Love Me Tomorrow; 12) Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Even though... the set becomes disjointed at times, when the band are in full flow it is truly impressive in both sight and sound."