Telewest Arena, Newcastle

23 May 2003

Ere's a Review For Ya!

I was half looking-forward to, half-dreading this concert. Too many things were stacked against it: a set list with far too much "modern" material (modern defined as post-1984, naturally); a backing band of faceless American rockers; and a singer who's forgotten what qualities made his voice special...

So did my fears come true? Well... to an extent, yes. And no.

The set list was a bit mixed. The older material was there, but played in a "modern" (noisy, aggressive) style which doesn't really work for me.

The backing band wasn't great—yes, very competent, very enthusiastic, but not... well, not the band I wanted to see. And very... well, "noisy" is the word that sprang to mind. The guitar solo was five minutes that could have been saved (though, to credit Aldridge, he plays a better slide than I was expecting). The drum solo was entertaining but awfully long. And the bass solo... is best left unmentioned.

And the singer... voice a little rough around the edges (tired from the tour?), still forcing his voice up into a register that doesn't really suit him (for god's sake, David, don't scream, *sing*)... but... but...

But nothing prepared me for the incredible charisma that oozes out of David Coverdale. He looks the part of a rock god. His smile is the warmest, most dazzling smile I've ever seen on a stage (and I begin to understand why the audience is full of gorgeous women). His connection with the audience is complete... from singing (unaccompanied) any request anyone cared to shout at him (sometimes forgetting the words or starting in the wrong key, but it didn't matter) to accepting, ahem, "gifts" from female admirers in the crowd ("I'm nearly 52, you shouldn't be giving me your underwear"), to sitting down and waiting while the crowd sang to him... he seemed so natural, warm, friendly, genuinely happy to be there... cracking jokes, running around the huge stage to make sure everybody got a good look at him... he made the arena feel like an intimate club... ah, I'm running out of nice things to say about him. We were eating out of his hand. I mean... anyone that can talk me into singing along to Still Of The Night, of all things, has to have something special about him...

Musically, it was flawed. Marsden & Moody played a better Whitesnake set when I saw them two years ago. I said then that I didn't need to see the "real" Whitesnake, that Coverdale wasn't really the important element.

How wrong I was. David Coverdale is simply one of the most entertaining front men I've seen on stage. I was hugely entertained.

And I can finally cross off my list of Things To Do Before I Die: "Sing Ain't No Love In the Heart Of The City as a member of the Whitesnake choir".

And for that, for that magical atmosphere, I happily proclaim this the best concert I've ever seen.

...has any of this been remotely coherent?