Gig review: JOURNEY, WHITESNAKE – Manchester MEN, 23 May 2013

Interview edit: David Coverdale, 15 March 2013
First broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 17 March 2013


Talking to David Coverdale a couple of months ago he confirmed that the band would be playing a full set and, moreover, a three-way bill like this provides great value for money.  Indeed he harked back to the tours he saw in the sixties as a lad, where Hendrix would rub shoulders with the likes of The Walker Brothers and Pink Floyd.

However, I think die-hard fans will bemoan that in many cases on the proverbial package tour set-lists can be predictable and  frequently a truncated greatest hits, and the risks (and surprises) are minimal.  That aside, it does make some touring more economically viable.

Thunder - Manchester MEN, 23 May 2013 - Photo by Steve Goudie

Thunder opened the show in yet another example of their stop-start farewell.  Whatever, it is a real treat to hear some of their classics.  They are too good to be hidden away as a distant memory of “what might have been”.

Even if Danny Bowes now looks like Everyman’s Dad he has the character and charisma to work the crowd whilst the rest of the band churn out quality songs like ‘Love Walked In’ and ‘Low Life In High Places’.

Thunder setlist: Dirty Love /Backstreet Symphony /Low Life In High Places/River of Pain/Higher Ground/The Devil Made Me Do It/Love Walked In /I Love You More Than Rock ‘N’ Roll

Whitesnake - Manchester MEN, 23 May 2013 - Photo by Steve Goudie

Early reports from the tour suggested David Coverdale may have overcome those frustrating vocal issues and as evidenced on Whitesnake‘s Made In Japan album the guitar quotient and tight-trousered vocal assistance is ramped up.

The inclusion of ‘Gambler’ as a tribute to bygone friends was a nice touch and reinforced Coverdale’s preeminent position in the pantheon of rock whilst we wondered if the fork lift truck was to help Bernie Marsden on stage rather than remove the drum-kits.

Marsden added great weight and authenticity and not least a great solo to ‘Fool For Your Loving’ and ‘Here I Go Again’.  In this, the band’s 35th Anniversary year – and “Year Of The Snake” – it was  a deft touch.

Whitesnake - Manchester MEN, 23 May 2013 - Photo by Steve Goudie

Whitesnake simply stole Journey’s thunder tonight (and Thunder’s thunder for that matter).  And the main difference is that while the Journey-men played every song immaculately there was a lack of both inter-personal and true audience engagement.  Plus Whitesnake had better merchandise.

Coverdale is a supreme showman, perennial cheeky chappy, and works the crowd beautifully; we should be thankful that he is still out there treading the boards in 2013 with one of rock’s great franchises.

I think Coverdale should also consider gigging in a totally acoustic setting. In fact something akin to those impromptu acoustic jams we’ve seen on whitesnake.tv  But based on tonight’s performance there’s life in the saucy old dog yet, making due allowances for an evident loss of vocal timbre over the years.

Whitesnake setlist:  Give Me All Your Love /Ready an’ Willing/Can You Hear the Wind Blow /Don’t Break My Heart Again/Is This Love/Gambler /Love Will Set You Free /Guitar solo/Steal Your Heart Away / Drum Solo/Forevermore /Best Years/Bad Boys / Children of the Night /Fool For Your Loving/Here I Go Again/Still of the Night

Journey - Manchester MEN, 23 May 2013 - Photo by Steve Goudie

Journey kept pretty closely to their “dirty dozen” centred around the ‘Escape’ album.  But no ‘Who’s Cryin’ Now’.  And punters wanting to hear some of the band’s recent work will have been disappointed but then even staunch Journey fans baulked at the heavied up ‘Eclipse’ released in 2011.  (Bizarrely the current album was played in the interval).

Indeed Journey’s show summed up the downside of arena packages.  Yes, it’s a chance to get the lighters in the air for those corporate blue-rinsers for whom ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ is considered the ultimate rock anthem, but short change for everyone else.  Rock nirvana for the punter who buys a compilation at a motorway service area and considers themselves cutting edge.

Journey - Manchester MEN, 23 May 2013 - Photo by Steve Goudie

Arnel Pineda’s crowd engagement usually consisted of variations of “come on Manchester” and we never heard from old stagers Cain, Valory and Schon.  Thankfully this was compensated for by Pineda’s wonderful vocals and the incendiary guitar work highlighted on songs like ‘Edge Of The Blade’ and ‘Wheel In The Sky’.

All in all, though, a great night’s entertainment and – to paraphrase Mr C – “a wonderful package, darling”.

Journey setlist:
Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) /Anyway You Want It/Ask the Lonely /Only the Young / Stone In Love /Keep On Runnin/Edge of the Blade/ Lights/Open Arms /One More /Dead or Alive /Escape/Wheel in the Sky/Be Good to Yourself/Faithfully /Don’t Stop Believing

Review by David Randall
Main photos by Steve Goudie

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

Album review (Whitesnake: Made In Japan)

Gig review (Glasgow, 18 May 2013



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