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Whitesnake @ Civic Hall, Wolverhampton (16/6/11)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 15:50 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

I haven’t seen the ‘snake for quite a while and with them gracing the Black Country with their presence I thought it would be rude not to go and see Cov and Co when they hit Wolvo. Nice to see tonight’s gig was a sell out and the Civic was well and truly rammed! Unlike many ‘serious’ fans of the band I prefer the bands output of the late eighties and early 90’s, I know many will snort in disgust and indicate that the bluesier late 70’s and early 80’s is the only credible version of the ‘snake.

Luke Morley’s The Union has bagged the support slot for the ‘snake UK tour. The band are gigging like crazy and really building a foundation and fan base for themselves. I hate to say it as I’m a huge fan of Morley and Thunder, but The Union just don’t do anything for me as much as I try I just can’t get into them. The last time I caught them supporting Thin Lizzy I was left feeling indifferent to the band, tonight’s performance didn’t change my mind. They are a tight outfit performance wise; you wouldn’t expect less from a unit featuring Morley and Thunder band mate Chris Childs on bass. Pete Shoulder has a strong voice too, but the songs just don’t resonate or stick with me.

What I did notice from tonight’s performance is the amount of the crowd showing appreciation and interacting with the band has increased, so the band’s plan to build their fan base is definitely working as they seem to be winning fans with every performance. Whilst their blend of blues based classic rock is going down well with many for me the songs just aren’t good enough. The song that stood out for me was “Easy Street” but other songs amongst the set were “Step Up To The Plate”, “Siren’s Song”, “Black Monday”, “Saviour” and they closed with “Watch The Rivers Flow”.

I heard some bad reports of previous ‘snake performances so far on this tour, but I put them to the back of my mind and I was really looking forward to hearing all those Whitesnake anthems again. I have to say I really enjoyed tonight’s gig and no one should ever miss a chance to see Cov and the ‘snake perform and I’m really glad I went and saw them tonight. Although the gig was far from perfect, Coverdale’s vocals are losing their power and on some song’s he seemed to struggle more so than on others, but on the whole he’s not the vocalist he once was – that said he still puts other famous vocalist’s to shame. Also I was a little disappointed about how low the keyboards were in the mix especially during the highly polished hits of the 80’s which they are essential too.

I’m here for the hit’s as I suspect many others are, but I was hoping to hear a few from the excellent new ‘snake album “Forevermore” and we got a whopping 6 new songs, I hadn’t expected this thinking the band would put on a greatest hit’s package with 2-3 new numbers thrown in. I’m not sure if the choice to play so many new songs at the loss of classics was a wise move for the fans in general but the forevermore material seemed to garner just as loud of cheers as the hits.

The current ‘snake line-up feature’s Reb “Winger” Beach & Doug Aldrich on guitar who have been ever present since 2002, they are joined by new boy’s Brain Tichy (Drums) & Michael Devin (Bass) who provide the rhythm section! As a band they all performed really well and provide the perfect backing for Coverdale who still struts round the stage like a man 30 years younger. Cov’s stage act is still intact with some full on mic stand “wanking” a front man who definitely try’s to put on a show. He has a warm and intimate report with the audience who welcome him like an old friend. His humour is very raunchy and sexual but whilst not been everyone’s cup of tea he is famous for this type of banter and the ‘snake just wouldn’t be ‘snake without all the bawdy humour and innuendo! The Wolvo choir were in fine form tonight singing some songs louder than Cov himself, hands raised and whoops and cheers all night long and everybody seemed to be having a damn good time!

The band came onto an intro tape of The Who’s “My Generation” and kicked straight into newbie “Best Years”, not in my opinion the best way to kick off the show but the crowd didn’t seemed bothered howling and applauding in response. Cov and co quickly get things in gear with a trio of songs from the glory days of the ‘snake the infectious sing along of “Gimme All Your Lovin’”, My highlight of the set and by far the band’s finest individual performance “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and the hit and ladies favourite ballad “Is This Love”, yeah I saw a few ladies eyes light up as the opening bars of this song kicked in!

My favourite song from the new album comes next “Steal Your Heart Away” and it’s bluesy and infectious rock and roll swagger kept up the momentum of the show and the crowd welcomed it like a classic. Followed by another new one in the form of title track “Forevermore” which is followed by an impromptu and short version of “Slide It In” much too many fans obvious and vocal delight! Then it’s onto the bands new single “Love Will Set You Free” which also nestled in the set list like a classic.

It all came crashing down though with the Guitar solo, or should that read Solo’s as Aldrich & Beach solo duel, and it went on and on and on and on.....I’m not one for these Guitar breaks in live shows anyway, but the length of this was taking the piss and was boring as hell. It did make me laugh though as every time Reb or Doug stopped the audience clapped and then you could see some obvious disappointment and sigh’s as they started back up widdling. I would have been far happier if they had stuck in “Now You’re Gone”, “The Deeper The Love” & “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”, yes it was that long and a gig should never be able to induce a yawn! The momentum of the show was totally sucked out of the show and to make matters worse the next song “My Evil Ways” contained the dreaded drum solo! Fortunately Tichy didn’t drag it out as much as his band mates and gave an Animal (as in the one from the Muppets) performance even chucking his sticks and pounding his drums bongo stylee. Then came probably Cov’s worst vocal performance of the night on “Fare The Well” a slow ballad which didn’t do anything to help re-ignite the shows fire.

Thankfully things improved as the band returned to the classics starting off with blues rock classic “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”, the hard rockin “Fool For Your Lovin’” got the rafters shaking and the crowd bopping and then of course “Here I Go Again” had the Civic going nuts as they all sang with hands aloft. They didn’t stay off stage long before returning for fan favourite and solitary encore song “Still Of The Night” which the band stormed through and the crowd lapped it up nosily!

I was so glad I went and enjoyed the gig, but a few things did disappoint or make the show not one of the best I’ve seen, but not going to the see the ‘snake when they are on your doorstep should be illegal!