Monday, 21 December 2015

Def Leppard with Whitesnake and Black Star Riders live at Wembley

My 42nd and final gig of the year! Man it's been a long haul..phew!! To be honest I'm actually glad it's all over for a few weeks anyway. My first gig of 2016 is on January 15th so a few weeks recuperation. Anyhow this was a pre xmas party gig basically with a lot of the old crowd letting their hair down and singing along to their old fave rock stars from the 80s.

First up were the new incarnation of Thin Lizzy in all but name, Black Star Riders. These guys were actually really very good and enjoyable. They played a short and sweet 8 song set of Lizzy classics and their best original tunes. Ricky Warwick is a very enthusiastic front man indeed but he can belt it out as well with his full bodied earthy voice. The Lizzy tunes were fun to hear and so were their own tracks. A perfect support act for the two big hitters to follow.

All Hell Breaks Loose
Are You Ready
(Thin Lizzy cover)
The Killer Instinct
(Thin Lizzy cover)
Bound for Glory
Kingdom of the Lost
Finest Hour
Whiskey in the Jar

Whitesnake were the main support as they were the last time these two giants of 80s arena rock shared this very stage a couple of years ago now. Now last time all the talk was that Mr Coverdale had lost his vocal abilities and it was the same this time too. Anyway I waited to judge for myself and I can say in no uncertain terms that the rumours are indeed true. Cov is screaming and almost growling through the songs now. I know he'd probably say that's how they're supposed to be sung but it just ends up sounding so rough on the ear that all finesse is lost. He's still a pretty funny guy with the banter though. He always says something stupid like "Here's a song for ya London!" or his usual "Make some fuckin' noise! I can't hear ya!" He actually has that motto emblazoned across one of his shirts.

Anyway more on the songs as Whitesnake are promoting the Purple album, they played quite a few cuts from that. I didn't like the dirge-like Mistreated at all which went on and on and on like it would never end. Thankfully it did finally! I wasn't too enamoured with the other Purple songs either but they were ok. The 'snake classics were aired towards the end and sounded fine but again Cov was rough sounding in Is This Love when he should be a little smoother. The crowd seemed to enjoy it though but I'm wondering how many were thinking Cov should be just about packing it up by now. He shows no sign of stopping though although a proper new Whitesnake album is probably not on the agenda but whop knows. The final airing of the band's heaviest cut Still of the Night was pretty awesome though I must admit and even Cov's screaming felt more in place on that heavy song. A note about the band. They are all fucking ace and make the band sound amazing. Reb Beach was great as was the new guy Joel Hoekstra. Drummer Tommy Aldridge looks so funny behind his kit with his grey hair whizzing and flying round every where during his drum solo. He even did a pretty neat hand played section on his solo with no sticks and got hoots and hollers galore!

Michele Luppi was brought into the band by Mr Coverdale to plays keys and backing vox of course. The guy is a great singer in his own right but I couldn't really hear him over Cov's screaming and growling so if he was brought in to cover when Cov's voice cracks then I couldn't hear him. Oh he plays a decent keyboard does Mr Luppi.

(Deep Purple cover)
Bad Boys
Love Ain't No Stranger
The Gypsy
(Deep Purple cover)
Give Me All Your Love
Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City
(Bobby “Blue” Bland cover)
(Deep Purple cover)
You Fool No One
(Deep Purple cover)
Drum Solo
Soldier of Fortune
(Deep Purple cover)
Is This Love
Fool for Your Loving
Here I Go Again
Still of the Night

So Whitesnake left and at 9.25pm or so the stage was finally ready for Sheffield's finest steel to deliver the classics to the legions of oldies out for a pre xmas Friday night rockathon!

They started with newie Let's Go which was actually very cool indeed. The song is basically Pour Some Sugar On Me in all but name with a very similar riff. The melodies and woooahhs are super cheesy but the crowd seemed well into it as it's such a typical Leppard style song. The mega hit Animal followed and sounded great with the whole of the arena singing the chorus of course. The sound was crystal clear as well which is quite lucky as the Arena can be echoey and cavernous making the sound swirl around. No such problems for the Leppard though.

Joe sounded good but I think I recall him sounding a bit better last time. Maybe age is catching up a little with him as well but at least he's nowhere near like Mr Coverdale in screaming and growling. The band each gets their solo spot in between the songs and each is afforded grea respect from the crowd. In fact the band is pretty much treated like living legends. Another newie is aired with the very catchy Dangerous with nice harmony vocals during the chorus by the other guys. After which we are back to the greatest hits set of songs that the band must of course play if they wanna bet let out  back to their hotels tonight. A lot of people are singing a long and enjoying themselves to these famous rock tunes. Maybe DL are now a pure nostalgia band but their recent album is pretty good if not quite amazing. People just don't really care to hear it but like I said the two new cuts are classic Leppard so I don't see the problem.

The boys reluctantly have to leave as the final song of the night the classic Photograph is played with mass sing along on the chorus and a rousing crescendo ending. Joe makes an impassioned speech at the end about the fans not forgetting DL and in return the band not forgetting the fans and coming back again and again. Judging by the sold out 11,000 crowd the band has enough fans for many years yet even if they don't buy the albums like they used to. The diehards still love to hear the classics live and Leppard gives'em what they want and then some.

Let's Go
Love Bites
Armageddon It
Rock On
(David Essex cover)
Two Steps Behind
(acoustic/Joe only)
When Love and Hate Collide
Switch 625
Let's Get Rocked
Pour Some Sugar on Me

Rock of Ages

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