Right, first things first. What's the fucking point of releasing a live DVD with only half a show on it? Reports suggest that this DVD/CD combo, recorded at York's Grand Opera House on September 30th 2011, is only half the gig. We all know Blackmore can be more than a tetchy handful but this is ridiculous.
The ironic thing is this release is so bloody good that when it finishes you are left wanting to hear more. I suppose it's a marketing thing; when 'A Night In York' gets the now customary six-month 're-mastered' re-release they'll be adding the rest of the gig as a bonus disc.
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And it gets worse. This release comes in loads of different formats - DVD + CD Digipack (CD rack size), DVD+CD, DVD, CD (Jewel Case), double vinyl LP 12" (Gatefold), Blu-Ray, digital (audio), digital (video) and D2C boxset. If you are a fan then prepare to get well and truly fleeced. I honestly don't know what's worse; the seemingly cynical racke..., sorry, marketeering or being treated like a cunt. Still...
This is a fabulous release. The sound is top notch and the music is a mix of (the very occasional) hard rock and (predominantly) medieval played on modern and traditional instruments; traditional old English songs given a modern make over and an enchanting vocal that is a little reminiscent of Maddy Prior at times, particularly on a rousing version of 'Toast To Tomorrow'.
There are still those who base their opinions of Blackmore on his work with Deep Purple and Rainbow. Here he shows how wrong they are, demonstrating that not only is he prepared to let his rock roots peek through occasionally but also let his grasp of the traditional shine through. If, on the other hand, you are expecting an industrial strength dose of ye olde worlde hey nonny nonny nonsense then you can think again.
Okay, so it's not rock music as such admittedly, but Candice Night does have a great voice and you can hear occasional hints of former glories if you listen carefully. 'The Peasant's Promise' in particular shows Blackmore has cultivated his ability to turn a traditional tune (in this instance the 'Lovely Joan' counter melody from Vaughn Williams' 'Fantasia On Greensleeves' if you must know) on its head to create a stunning piece of modern neo traditional folk music in its own right.
Yes, we know, ol' Ritchie did say when he first put Blackmore's Night together he would never play rock again but no one really took him that seriously and here he strikes the perfect balance between the old world and the new just as Jethro Tull did during its 'Songs From The Wood/Heavy Horses' period but without being quite so bucolic. Of course it helps that the band that backs Blackmore and Night are phenomenal, carrying the music close to the ever fuzzy borders of prog.
The DVD is simply shot but the editing has proved so severe that the reported warmth of the gig has been completely removed. Unfortunately, my copy had no sound and although I know I'm supposed to sit through it all, if y'all think I've got nothing better to do with an eighty minute chunk of what's left of my sorry existence than watch a mute vid then you can damn well think again. It looks nice; what more do you want to know?
For all you Metal heads who take the piss, harping on about skipping through meadows strumming a lute then hush thy gobs. 'A Knight In York' may be flawed but it remains a very good release that works well as a good introduction to the band as well as a snapshot that will attract some, if not all of Blackmore's existing fans.