Welcome to the Church Of Coverdale
First off, can I humbly request that the owners invest some money in air conditioning as the temperature must have been in the nineties (in old money) by the time Whitesnake were rawking hard. I made the mistake of leaning against a pillar only to find out it was literally running with sweat. Fair enough, I need to lose a few pounds but this was taking the piss.
Quarter to eight saw The Answer taking to the stage. Now after salivating over their debut album recently I was looking forward to them live, but they were a little bit lost. They tried hard to fill the theatre but the bijou PA they were using did them no favours. They worked hard and entertained the crowd well with the old Son House tune, "Preachin" rocking the joint. In frontman, Cormac Neeson, they have an absolute star with the finest voice I've heard since Dave 'Treeman' King (ask your rock'n'roll parents), but a little more stagecraft would help. However, the album is a blinder and I'll be going to see them on their club tour later this year with Roadstar.
Nine o'clock and it's time to rock. "My Generation" fades away, the lights go out, and the man ambles on to stage in front of a sold out Academy. Not many people get 3 minutes of applause just for appearing but Dame David de Coverdale is such a man. Then bam, we're off into "Burn" and the roof lifts off. Apart from the few people who seemed to think he was starting with a new song! Interpolated with a bit of "Stormbringer", it's nice to see Dame D at peace with his past. "Slide It In" rattles by, then it's off into "Love Ain't No Stranger", which means we're getting pretty much the same set as the last couple of visits. Which is fine by me. Then come the words we haven't heard from Lord Coverdale in a long, long time. "Here's a new song for ya". Which means no "Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues". The new one may or may not be called "Lady Luck", and if so, someone should remind its author that he's already used that particular title.
Then we're off into "Is This Love", which sees our leader presented with a single red rose. Awww. Mind you, he got it from a bloke which caused him some merriment / glee (delete as appropriate). Then it was panto season before "Ready An' Willing" (with "Hit And Run" intro) with the "oh not you're not", "oh yes we are" repartee, before an excellent rendition which saw new boy Uriah Duffy shining. After all, this is a guy who played in the studio with Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera.
Then my worst fears were realised as the solo spots began. I've seen it several times now and am always amazed at how dull Doug Aldrich's solo spot is. Ooh, look, fingers moving fast! Big deal. I still think he's wrong for Whitesnake, hence my position stage right, so I could blank out his side of the stage. Reb Beach has come on leaps and bounds adapting to the 'Snake, but Reb just widdles on and on and on. I managed to zone out during the drum solo, because once you've seen Tommy Aldridge doing his Animal from the Muppets impersonation once, you don't need to see it again.
The interminable solo spots also ruin the flow of the show, which means you have to pick yourself up all over again when "Crying In The Rain" eventually resumes. Which is probably why "Ain't No Love In the Heart Of The City" is next in line. Wakey wakey, it's singalong time. Oddly, "Give Me All Your Love", a song I loathed on release has taken on a life of its own recently getting a more fervent audience response and participation than "Ain't No Love...". "Here I Go Again" brings things to a close for a couple of minutes before the band plays on. I keep on worrying that "Take Me With You" will get dropped from the set but, thankfully, there it was, first track of the encore, still the best song Whitesnake ever did. Although there were a few blank looks from people expecting "Fool For Your Loving" or something else more familiar.
Biff bam boom, it's "Still Of The Night", thank you, you've been a lovely audience, before the main man takes a solo spot for "Soldier Of Fortune". A delightful show, especially back in a theatre instead of a lifeless shed. Yes, the Dame has a few more vocal effects in his arsenal and 3 of the boys in the band helping out, but it's not about technical prowess (are you listening Doug?), it's about soul, feeling and passion, something DC has rediscovered over the last few years, to the benefit of us all.
A 5 star show, with a point deducted for the endless solo spots.
review: Stuart A Hamilton, (Zeitgeist, PO Box 13499, Edinburgh EH6 8YL, UK)