Whitesnake, live at the Genting Arena, Birmingham, December 12 2015

Review and Photo Credit: Adrian Hextall 

 

With a warm up from Black Star Riders (REVIEW CAN BE FOUND HERE), the second band on our three band bill is British institution Whitesnake. Coming on stage to the backing tape of ‘My Generation’ by another institution The Who, with the immortal line “I hope I die before I get old“, it has to be said that Sir David of Coverdale is looking quite spritely. Yes there are a few more lines on the face these days but he looks trim, he’s full of energy and he’s surround by guitarists that make his ensemble look youthful and as relevent as they did back in the glorious 80s heydays.

With a modern reworking of Deep Purple classics on the latest Whitesnake (Purple) album, David Coverdale and Co. have received a considerable amount of criticism about the tracks ranging from ‘lazy’, ‘how could you tarnish these classics’, to simply ‘why??’. What does become obvious however is that once these re-workings are played in the live arena, they really, really work.

The opening rendition of ‘Burn’ is a classic that most of the arena knows and it immediately gets everyone up and moving. With Deep Purple still touring but not playing the songs from the ‘Burn’ era, it’s great that Coverdale and of course Glenn Hughes who always plays the song in his setlists are opening the eyes of concert goers to some of these classic tracks. Comparing Coverdale and Hughes versions does of course come down to vocals and it’s worth noting that, again, many critical comments of Coverdale’s voice have been made in recent years. Tonight though, it has to be said he sounds better than I’ve heard him in a long time. His voice has matured and whilst his range may have changed slightly his voice suits the older bluesier numbers that Whitesnake were originally known for. It’s a velvety, deeper voice that works very well indeed. It’s warmer and then helium fuelled than Hughes performances and to me is all the better for it.

If the Purple songs were not your thing, then Coverdale obliges with all of the hits from classic Whitesnake and we are treated to ‘Bad Boys’ , ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’ and ‘Give Me All Your Love’ in rapid succession. Interspersed amongst the classics are more tracks from the Purple album like ‘The Gypsy’ and it’s interesting to hear the cheers of approval from long time fans mixed with ‘huh?’ and ‘what’s this then?’ from those people who only got into the band after ‘Is This Love‘ was released and sold millions around the world.

Either way, there’s no debating the impact that Coverdale still has on a crowd. The perfect showman, with years of experience honed to a fine art, he has the crowd eating out of his hand early on and makes full use of the walkway out into the assembled throng smiling and pointing at fans as if he knew each and everyone of them personally. The fans of course lap it all up and still treat him like the Messiah (even if he isn’t and is in fact a very naughty boy!) it explains perfectly the grin he has across his face for the entire set.

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The microphone stand was (as always) used as an ‘extension’ of Sir David’s sexual prowess and there was probably more than one lady in the crowd still willing to fall under his charms.

The Whitesnake Choir were also in fine voice as the obligatory ‘Ain’t No Love..’ was played. The band and crowd know how this works by now and the extended song sees the entire Genting Arena participating as one in the timeless classic.

Whitesnake is of course more than just DC and ‘new’ boy Joel Hoekstra, replacing Doug Aldrich to become Reb Beach’s new sparring partner is an excellent guitarist whose long blond locks make him look like a perfect fit for each and every track from the 1987 era ‘Snake. The shapes he pulls and poses he enters into whilst playing some intricate solos beggared belief, especially in jeans as tight as the ones he had on. It’s all part of the show however and he pulled it all off with aplomb.

A Tommy Aldrige drum solo is always one worth watching. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to watching Animal from the Muppets thump the drums like his life depends on it. A whirlwind of mad hands and even madder hair, when Tommy dispatched with the sticks and simply played the kit with his hands, the crowd went wild.

Although a lot of the ‘newer’ Purple material was added to the set, the final four songs were what the majority of the crowd were here to listen to. As the opening intro from ‘Is This Love’ rings out across the arena, the sold out crowd goes wild and sings along word for word with Coverdale. The euphoria and adrenaline needed for headliners Def Leppard was released early as the band then ran through ‘Fool For Your Loving’, Here I Go Again’ and finished with the stunning ‘Still of the Night’. 

Past it? Voice Gone? RUBBISH ! – This was great fun. Roll on Ramblin’ Man Fair next Summer when Whitesnake headline the main stage.

SETLIST:

My Generation (The Who song & intro tape)
Burn (Deep Purple cover)
Bad Boys
Love Ain’t No Stranger
The Gypsy (Deep Purple cover)
Give Me All Your Love
Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City (Bobby “Blue” Bland cover)
Mistreated (Deep Purple cover)
You Fool No One (Deep Purple cover)
Drum Solo
Soldier of Fortune (Deep Purple cover)
Is This Love
Fool for Your Loving
Here I Go Again
Still of the Night
We Wish You Well (outro tape)

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