Whitesnake at Utilita Arena Arena Birmingham 22.5.2022 + Foreigner + Europe supporting
I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see a rock band, I mean a good ole hairy, heavy, rock band, from the 70s and 80s – the last opportunity, as this appears to be the last blast for David Coverdale (now 70) as frontman and last remaining original in Whitesnake. Gig buddy Dave (DPi) came up with the tickets – Foreigner and Europe supporting… go on, it had to be done.
I associate Whitesnake most with going round my school mate Rich’s house (RTh) in Ashford (Middx) at the end of the 70s. School holiday rainy days immersed in heavy metal, rock, soft rock, prog rock – lots of Genesis – endless Genesis 🙄. I guess it gets engrained in you. Up that end of my music awareness I always leaned, if pressed to, towards the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Rainbow and Motorhead, the latter almost meeting punk at ‘the bridge’ and very much part of the punk ‘family’. But Whitesnake were that hairy rock, eminating from Deep Purple as David Coverdale did.
Come to think of it I came under a heavy onslaught of Ian Gillan at my mate Rich’s house. I don’t remember Deep Purple featuring though – maybe that was too historic for me to face up to (I was 1977+ with no rear view mirrors). In later life I find I’m embracing it though. I even turned up outside at a Deep Purple concert at Bournemouth BIC about 15 years ago to try and get a ticket – their last tour they said – but alas no one selling outside the sell-out gig.
So here I am (not again on my own) in Brum. Ready to rock, with a couple of other softer rockers (so I thought) of that era supporting.
Utilita Arena Birmingham
We’re at the indoor arena in the middle of Birmingham, by the canal junction, north of Broad Street party town and just up the towpath from the ‘Black Sabbath Bridge’.
They keep changing the sponsored name of this place (what was the National Indoor Arena) and ‘The NEC’ (that’s the one out near the airport and currently known as Resorts World Arena, Birmingham). Easy to confuse and unsettle as you double check en route.
The 10,000 plus audience (only the back curve of the arena is blacked off with cloth) is using a standing floor area with the usual seating on the banking. The audience looks heavy rock with jeans, hair, leather jackets, sleeveless jeans jackets and appropriate t-shirts. I did see a Crass one though. Heavy rock bands do attract a loyal following and these ones live up too my stereotypical expectations.
Europe are on first. I thought they might be softer rock than this but no, good ole solid rock. Lead singer is a big mic swinger – the stand and all being thrown all over the place. He’s been doing that a while. I’m pretty sure it’s still the original singer Joey Tempest looking at photos – Swedish.
Rock the Night and Carrie were the hits I knew, with a bit of a Spotify refresher in the weeks earlier. I enjoyed the set overall and there was no doubting the big one awaited: The Final Countdown. It’s huge. Everyone’s heard of it surely and what a big song to hear live in a 10,000 crowd. I recorded the moment and saved it on my YouTube channel: The Final Countdown.
Looking up Foreigner, the lead singer is not the original guy, indeed I’m not sure if any of the band are original members, not that this bothers me as don’t know any of them either – they rock on and everyone’s happy. The first song I can name is Cold As Ice – third song, again I captured this for YouTube . This is early but on they go. They do like a drum solo… and a keyboard solo and there are a few of these; maybe a bit over-prominent in a short support set.
When Dirty White Boy is introduced I’m thinking this sounds like classic, deep in heavy rock territory. I haven’t delved into the lyrics. Before the last song of the main set, Juke Box Hero, we get a mammoth keyboard and drum solo – they are both on a raised rear stage area.
“You want some more: you gotta make some more noise” is the rockers’ call at the end of that part of the set. Crowd obliges and there are three more songs, one of which is the soft rock monster hit I Want to Know What Love Is (link to my YouTube mobile recording); a chance for a hearty chorus singalong, with phone waving. Again, great to hear such a big song belted out live in a big arena like this.
Time for an interval…the toilet queue, a beer. This is going well.
I’ve been giving the remastered 1987 self-titled Whitesnake album a fair bit of attention in the ‘revision period’ for this, my heavy rock ‘exam’. The setlist tonight has a few rock love songs from this album – a good heavy listen – including Is This Love, Give Me All Your Love but the rock love song that stuck in my mind most from the early 80s was Fool For Your Loving which comes mid-way through the set. I’m not sure if Slide it In qualifies for this rock love song category.
Coverdale’s voice sounds good considering his age (70) and he is taking steps to save it, with plenty of strong backing vocals coming through from others in the band. Also the set isn’t that long, around 80 minutes, so he’s giving himself a chance on this big tour.
The rest of the band are presumably selected from the best to join Coverdale in a band with a reputation like this. The guitarists throw in a few solos, big one after Fool for Your Loving, along with a keyboard tinkle, and all seems technically top drawer (I’m not a musician but its impressive) with some subtley choereographed stage wandering – handy for even my distant camera.
Drummer Tommy Aldridge produced an eyewatering drum solo at one point, there’s a clip here of him in London on this tour. As the solo reached its apparent final blows tonight, he chucks the sticks and continues the mayhem with his fists on the skins. Exhausting. I can’t remember seeing any drum solo as good as that – OK I’m not exposed to them generally.
There’s a short extension at front of the stage where Coverdale can get right out into the crowd – he is a real out-frontman. Here I Go Again (….on my own) is the best song of the night, that’s the one in my head on the train south the next morning. After that, one more (1987 single Still of the Night) it’s the last song and it’s a Deep Purple one, Burn, to end. That’s it. No encores – perhaps the only rock cliché that’s missing.
Well I enjoyed that, another rock’n’roll night to savour: seeing a heavy rock legend like David Coverdale front the latest and last Whitesnake. A couple of other rock legends thrown in supporting. Maybe it’s time I sought out some other heavy rock and metal legends (or tributes) …don’t tell my old mate Rich🤫