Photos By Rob Stanley
Tonight’s show from the ‘snake was originally billed as the only date outside of London for a couple of select special Christmas shows from Cov and Co. Apparently David Coverdale handpicked Wolvo Civic Hall as his choice of venue – cue much pride inducing chest swelling and screams of I AM YAM YAM from myself and my black country brethren – as Whitesnake pick our humble Black Country venue and to top it off he’s chosen to play HERE on his 60th birthday!
Myke Gray’s new band Red, White & Blues had landed the support slot and although I hadn’t heard a single note from the band prior to this gig I was very much looking forward to hearing them play. As a big fan of Skin I was intrigued to hear what this band would be like especially as it paired Myke up once again with vocalist Matti Alfonzetti, the pair both played in cult melodic hard rock band Jagged Edge.
So with a complete blank canvas of opinion, I was pleasantly surprised as the crowd roared at the band as they came onstage. Although I hadn’t got the CD yet obviously a good chunk of this Black Country crowd had and they seem to like it a little bit. The sound was a bit dodgy for the first two songs, which staff at the Civic made the sound guys fully aware off quicker than you can say ‘OI Sort it!’. That been said I was already impressed with the heavily melodic salvo of ‘Shame Shame’ and ‘Girls and Guitars’ and they had me salivating at the prospect of hearing the full album, which was in the post!
From here on in you would have thought the band had been around for a while and built up a healthy fan base, based on the cheers and the love showered on the band here tonight they are going to be a popular act! With the amount of live experience within the band it was no surprise they owned the stage and got the crowd involved at every opportunity, Myke performing as we’ve all become accustomed to with Skin and delivering riffs with ease and confidence. Matti who seemed so demure and chilled on his solo support slots with Skin last year came to the forefront as a demanding front man with a confident roar getting the crowd revved up and ready to rock, he really put me in mind of Ricky Warwick (The Almighty/ Thin Lizzy) with his stage presence, oh and vocally he was sublime!
The band’s sound does hint at Skin and Jagged Edge, but don’t expect a clone of either band. I’d say they are more melodic than Skin but harder and bluesier than Jagged Edge.
I had been expecting maybe a Skin tune or more likely a Jagged Edge song to slip into the set list thinking the band would throw a familiar tune into the mix to get fans into proceedings, they didn’t and they really didn’t need too. This couldn’t be displayed any better than when the band did ‘Red, White and Blues’ with the crowd singing the chorus back at the band as if the song was a long time known classic, not a song released literally a few weeks prior to the gig. So the rest of the short set consisted of ‘Rescue Me’ the ballad ‘Counts For Nothing’, ‘Let It Shine’ and set closer ‘Stand Up For Rock N Roll’.
A fabulous live act, with some awesome tunes too boot, I can’t wait to see these guys rock it up again cause their brand of highly melodic blues hard rock ticks all the right boxes with me.
It looked like another capacity crowd here at the Civic Hall for the melodic rock legends Whitesnake as fans squeeze into the hall and compete for views on the balcony. I have to admit I was slightly disappointed by certain aspects of the last performance by the band here in the summer, but missing a gig from a band of the mighty ‘snake’s stature is NEVER going to happen! So I grab’s a good view and hope for a good show and hope all my favourites get dusted off and rattled around the hall to a chorus of 3,000 midlanders singing along!
So Cov and Co grab the audience by the throat and deliver a quartet of classic era ‘snake tunes to get the crowd going wild in a sing along frenzy, just to ease us in gently to tonight’s show. ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’, ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’ and possibly my highlight of the evening a spine tingling performance of ‘The Deeper The Love’. Now the crowd was rabid they slipped in a couple of newbie’s from the latest album Forevermore, ‘Steal Your Heart Away’ was met like an old friend and kept the crowd on a vocal high. Title track the moody ‘Forevermore’ brought the tempo down a little before the dreaded *Gulp* Guitar solos!
I’m a massive fan of Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach and the work they have done over the years and there is no complaining about the pair’s guitar ability and tonight they played magnificently. That said though the guitar duel just drains the atmosphere out of the venue and has me in yawning clock watching sleepy eyed mode. In fairness the duel seemed to go quicker this time around, although it lasted a little over 10 minutes, and the guys threw in some melodic solo stuff towards the end to maintain our interest, but seriously 10 minutes is too long! Any solo that takes longer than it does for me to buy a drink at the bar, go to the merch desk and buy a t-shirt, take a dump AND still have time for a quick nap need to be banned.
When Coverdale returns to the stage the crowd are a little bit subdued in comparison to how they were at the beginning of the set. And the tempo quiets down for a bit as we get ‘Can You Hear The Wind Blow’ a cover of BB King’s ‘Rock Me Baby’ and ‘Love Will Set You Free'. Then we get the Drum solo, which Brain Tichy drags out for another 10 yawntastic minutes. Although again in fairness – hahaha – he does try his damndest to be entertaining using his hands, chopsticks and even knifes to hack away at his kit in an attempt to keep us all in the mood to rock. Again though 10 minutes is just too long.
Giving us ‘Is This Love’ next appeases those of us who are starting to lose the will to live and has every woman in the building screaming and going all gushy! I am not a sexist but rock ballads do something strange to Rock Chicks, its knickers’ wetting and throwing at the lead singer time. Hell I love a good ballad, but damn these chicks really come to life when their song is played! Note to self, learn to sing, join a band, write a killer ballad, buy a lifetime supply of condoms and let the good times commence.
Now it’s back to the good times as the ‘snake decide to pick up where they left off at earlier in the set and rounding off the set with a trio of songs that gets everyone’s dancing shoes burning again and the voices raised high! Coverdale invites onto the stage ‘snake legend from the VERY early days guitarist Bernie Marsden and he accompanies the band for the rest of the show as long time ‘snake fans welcome Bernie like a living legend! By the way for anyone interested Bernie Marsden will be performing a solo show at The Robin in Bilston on the 22nd June.
So we get a trio of unforgettable performances of ‘Fool For Your Loving’, ‘Here I Go Again’ & ‘Still Of The Night’. Which for me was a great way to round off tonight’s performance. For the encore Coverdale returns to a do a quick acapella version of ‘Soldier Of Fortune’, before digging into his Deep Purple past for ‘Burn’ and ‘Stormbringer’. With it been Christmas we get a visit from Santa complete with presents been thrown into the crowd and the final song of the night ‘White Christmas’. If you asked everyone leaving the venue tonight what they thought you would have been met by a universal cheer of “Best gig EVER!”
Personally I fell like something’s missing; David Coverdale’s voice is obviously not what it once was and sometimes on the older tunes this becomes more obvious. He does put on a great show though and keeping his voice the same as when he was twenty is out of his hands, so you can’t bad mouth him on it. Choosing a set full of classics and indulging in a few new ones means he does try to deliver value for money and means the band have no intention of becoming a novelty act in their latter days! I enjoyed the show and will never miss a local ‘snake show regardless of the imperfections.
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