Saturday, December 10, 2011

Whitesnake, Newport, 07/12/11

And so we come to the final part of a trilogy of Deep Purple family gigs taking place this autumn/winter in the UK with the fourth appearance at the Newport Centre of David Coverdale and his ever changing support cast of Whitesnake (I make it version 16 - keep up at the back). In fact, this was the penultimate show of the 90 date Forevermore 2011 World Tour.

Mr David Coverdale

A sizeable crowd (including many familiar faces) turned up on a cold South Wales night to pay homage to one of the great frontmen of rock over the last 38 years, right from those early days of being plucked from obscurity to front Purple mark 3 which was, back in 1973, the biggest selling (and loudest) band in the world.

Once the excellent Red, White and Blues has fulfilled the support slot, it was time to get down and sing along to some of the signature tunes of 1980s rock: Bad Boys, Give Me All Your Love (youtube), Love Ain't No Stranger, The Deeper The Love (youtube), Is This Love?, Fool For Your Loving (youtube), Here I Go Again, Still Of The Night and a collection of old Purple stuff in Burn/Stormbringer and Soldier Of Fortune.

Here's a song for ya

So what was it like?

First, the positives. Whitesnake have an impressive back catalogue with many tunes which will last for a very long time and, in David Coverdale, there is the very model of a heavy rock frontman: even at 60, in fine shape, eloquent and with hair the envy of men half his age.

His interaction with the crowd is well known, and this made for a real Christmas party atmosphere. His supporting musicians are well crafted, and shine most on the newer material like the new album's title track "Forevermore" and, from the last album, "Can You Hear The Wind Blow?"

So it cannot be said that it was not an enjoyable evening.But...

...even as an ardent Whitesnake fan...

...I have to point out that this incarnation of live Whitesnake is a mere shadow of days gone by.

It just has to be said that DC's voice is a long way from the force it was and, to be brutally honest, varies between a husky growl and screams, with little in between on the 'heavy metal' numbers. The backing group help out enormously on vocals with as many as four of them singing out at some stages. Coverdale ducks out of many sections, leading crowd sing alongs of both a collective and, increasingly, individual nature by passing the mike to audience members.

DC with Doug Aldrich...

My biggest criticism has to be reserved for what I consider to be the amount of time wasted. After an impressive start to the show for around half an hour, the momentum of the gig was completely ruined by an interminable instrumental section: around 10 minutes of twin guitar solos, followed by a mindnumbing drum solo (I lost count after 11 minutes - amazingly some people were still filming it) and an excruciating band introduction section complete with cringeworthy cover versions of Cream , Aerosmith etc.

...and with Reb Beach

Not complete with that we had the appearance of a gift bearing Father Christmas during the classic Fool For Your Loving which, coupled with Coverdale's increasingly scripted innuendos and gestures (he's more like Frankie Howerd every tour), did make me wonder if the long awaited sequel to Spinal Tap was being filmed.

Goodnight from mark 16 Whitesnake

So for all the goodies that a Whitesnake show can bring, this one brought it's fair share of car crash viewing. Far better for those instrumental sections to be removed (it's £40 a ticket y'know), get the bar stools out, and sing some blues / acapello. 1987 it isn't. And I speak for many I think when I say that I want to see a performance not a pantomime.

Will it happen? Dunno, but DC could take a leaf out his old bandmate Glenn Hughes's book and go back to basics, drop the heavy metal frontman image and act like the seasoned and talented pro he is.

If he doesn't, he runs the risk of ridicule and unravelling a great reputation.

Will I go again? Dunno, depends on ticket price, locality and whether the show changes.

We can all hear the sound of the windmill going round. Perhaps it's time the tune was changed before it stops turning altogether.

Whitesnake 2011

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