Review: Whitesnake – OVO Hydro, Glasgow

Tuesday, 14th December 1982, Newcastle City Hall, a 14-year-old started a musical obsession that would last a lifetime. I remember the sense of excitement as the lights dimmed, knowing my favourite band was about to hit the stage, I remember that feeling because it never changed over the last 40 years, that is until the lights dimmed on Thursday, May 12th, 2022 at the OVO Hydro in Glasgow. This time was different, I was in the pit, best seat in the house, with a camera, and about to capture the last Scottish hurrah of the mighty Whitesnake. It’s time to say farewell to a true legend, a man who has worked with a veritable who’s-who of rock luminaries and at the age of 70 continues to not only attract some of the finest musicians around but who has also provided the soundtrack to my life. Seldom, if ever, over the last four decades has a week passed where I haven’t listened to a bit of Whitesnake. So as the lights flare and David Coverdale strides to the centre of the stage and asks; “ARE YOU READY?”, I lift the camera and hide a tear.

Before the money shot, there was of course the small matter of some foreplay, and on this occasion, that job fell to tour special guests Foreigner, and opening act: Europe. With an early stage time, and sadly, quite a serious traffic collision that snarled up some of the major motorway arteries into Glasgow, Europe took to the stage in front of what was quite a sparse crowd. Opening with the Led Zeppelin-like opening track to 2017’s impressive studio album ‘Walk The Earth’, Joey Tempest, John Norum, Mic Michaeli, John Leven, and Ian Haugland, set about the task of making the cavernous arena seem more like a smaller, more intimate venue. With an energy-filled 40-minute set, the Swedish veterans rattled through what would have been on any other night – the ultimate party playlist. Up against heavy hitters from both Foreigner, and Whitesnake, Europe more than held their own with bonafide anthems such as ‘Rock The Night’, ‘Carrie’, the magical Thin Lizzy-like twin guitars (from Tempest, and the always-reliable John Norum) of ‘Ready or Not’, ‘Superstitious’, ‘Cherokee’, and by the time that the set closed on what else but ‘The Final Countdown’, the crowd has swelled considerably and the evergreen, microphone stand-twirling Joey Tempest had them bouncing as one. Beginning what would be a recurring theme throughout the night, it was smiles all around from performers and audience alike.

Foreigner

For seventy minutes or so, and with a full-on production normally only afforded to the headliners, special guests Foreigner dazzled even those in the cheap seats (is there still such a thing as “cheap seats” these days?) with a romp through decades-worth of one of the most enviable back catalogues in British-American rock music. Vocalist Kelly Hansen is making it his own personal mission to connect with everyone inside the packed arena by covering every inch of the stage, as well as going walkabout down the front of the barriers during ‘Cold As Ice’, joking when he finished the song that he was “…not out of breath, I’m just horny” – the perfect segue into ‘Dirty White Boy’. The former Hurricane and Unruly Child frontman has always impressed and belongs onstage in an arena setting. Very Steven Tyler-Esque in how he performs and works the stage, Hansen is a perfect fit for Foreigner and is electrifying to watch. Part of the band now since 2005, Hansen is one-sixth of a talented group of musicians (that includes industry veteran Jeff Pilson) breathing new life into the Foreigner legacy. The standard of playing is at times staggering, especially the twin guitar work from Bruce Watson (always going to go down well in Glasgow with a name like that) and latest recruit Luis Maldonado, although when the man behind the keys, Michael Bluestein, straps on his keytar and goes front and centre for ‘Urgent’, he just about steals the show.

Foreigner

It is one classic after another; ‘Cold As Ice’, and ‘Feels Like The First Time’ get the temperature rising, and the untouchable ‘Juke Box Hero’ takes the bloody roof off – great use of the giant screen on this one. Encore time sees Hansen introducing founding member Mick Jones to the stage for a three-song encore of ‘Long, Long Way from Home’, a jaw-dropping rendition of ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ (where lights from thousands of phones light up the arena), and closing song ‘Hot Blooded’ which comes complete with fiery-riffage by the bucketload. It’s fair to say that the crowd did indeed go wild, and a speedy return in a headlining capacity has to be on the cards.

Whitesnake

So, once the rather appropriate Rolling Stones classic ‘The Last Time’ fades out from the PA, the Scottish garrison of the Whitesnake Choir prepares to welcome the band to Scotland for the last time. One noticeable thing that warms the heart is the amount of younger fans in the crowd tonight. Teenagers and those in their early twenties who might have grown up with Whitesnake but until now haven’t witnessed David Coverdale and his incredible group of musicians in the flesh. We keep on hearing about Rock being on its last legs, but we all know that is bollocks aimed at getting online hits to increase the all-important social media “reach” of whatever site is pushing the narrative that particular day. You know that Rock music is very much alive and kicking when you see different generations of the same family dressed in regulation black tour t-shirts, and tonight they have all come to the OVO Hydro for one reason and one reason alone; to worship at the altar of one of the last remaining gentlemen in rock music: Sir David Coverdale.

Whitesnake

Alongside one of the most kick-ass bands in rock music today – recent additions livewire bassist Tanya O’Callaghan, and Croatian powerhouse vocalist Dino Jelusick (also on keyboards) slotting in seamlessly – David Coverdale is in great form as he makes good use of the extended stage during the opening number – ‘Bad Boys’. Like any seasoned pro, he is an expert in making every audience member feel like he is singing directly to them, and is constantly pointing at familiar faces in the crowd, waving to them, blowing kisses at them, and patting his heart in appreciation of their warm welcome. At times, the giant screens pick up on what looks like tears of joy in his eyes, and surely even the most cynical of cynics wouldn’t begrudge one of the warmest and most sincere performers of the last few decades moments like these?

Whitesnake

‘Slide It In’ is up next and the band is attacking the stage; guitarists Joel Hoekstra (who came out of the womb in leather trousers and with his mane of hair blowing backward) and Reb Beach, are a joy to behold. Their playing is staggering and gives DC a run for his money in the can’t-take-your-eyes-off-them stakes. Whitesnake always packed a punch in the twin guitar department, and whilst the blues-rock days of Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden are long gone, Hoekstra and Beach help bring the power and passion to 2022’s Whitesnake. This might have only been the second gig together for the backbone of the band, the aforementioned Tanya O’Callaghan, and drummer extraordinaire Tommy Aldridge, but they already have a great understanding together, so much so that you would swear that it was years rather than months that they had been playing together, especially when they launch into a pounding version of ‘Slow An’ Easy’. With Michele Luppi and Dino Jelusick on keyboards on different sides of the stage, this is a perfect lesson in how a bunch of well-traveled musicians from all over the globe can come together and create a “band” in the truest sense of the word.

Whitesnake

Audience participation has always played an important part in any Whitesnake gig over the years, and tonight is no different. ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ holds a special place in the hearts of the Whitesnake Choir and tonight they deliver their own full-throated version of the classic cover version, and the pollen count must have been quite high this evening as several crowd members have moist (…”moist”…Giggity) eyes. With a massive jukebox of hits to choose from, tracks such as ‘Fool For Your Loving’, ‘Crying In The Rain’, and of course, ‘Is This Love’ all stand the test of time, and Coverdale’s many requests to “Make some fuckin’ noise Glasgow!” are met by the response you would expect. The finale of ‘Here I Go Again’ (genuinely spine-tingling), followed by ‘Still Of The Night’ and a romp through the Deep Purple belter known as ‘Burn’, brings an emotional evening to an end and the seven-piece are lined up to take their bows before David Coverdale thanks the crowd for all their love and support over the decades and soaks up the applause from a Scottish audience for one last time. One interesting thing from the final stages; as the band is leaving the stage, David Coverdale embraces Dino Jelusick and walks off with his arm over the young Croat’s shoulder as he talks to him, it’s almost as if Mr. Coverdale is saying…soak this up, this is where you belong, on the largest stages in the world. 

Whitesnake

Buy a ticket for the tour, and just go and enjoy yourself. If the last two years have proved anything, then it is that life is too short to dwell on the crappier aspects. Go and sing your hearts out, and maybe shed a tear or two.

As a lifelong member of the Whitesnake Choir, it is so sad that the road has come to an end but what a journey. Thank you, one and all. I think the final words belong to David Coverdale:

“I’m sad to say, it’s time to go
But until we meet again along the road
Remember this on your journey home
When you hear the thunder roar, you’re not alone.

We wish you well, we wish you well
In times of trouble, may your heart be strong
We wish you well, we wish you well
Until we meet again, we wish you well.”

Words and pictures – Callum Scott

2022 TOUR DATES:

Mon 16 May The O2 Arena, London

Wed 18 May AO Arena, Manchester

Fri 20 May Motorpoint Arena Nottingham

Sun 22 May Utilita Arena Birmingham

Wed 25 May Motorpoint Arena Cardiff

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Do people who write these reviews actually go to the gig yes Europe were good foreigner were amazing but whitesnake were terrible the band was the only good thing about them great musicians turned up Loud to drown out David Coverdale terrible vocals apart from when he was miming to the backing track thank god it is there farewell tour think the amount of people who started to leave a couple a songs in should tell you how bad he actually was foreigner should have been the headline act would definitely go see them again

    • Thank god you’ve just written this!!! We went to Birmingham last night for this gig & loved Europe, Foreigner were very good, but Whitesnake (well, David Coverdale) we’re terrible!!

      He couldn’t even synch the words for the majority of the 15-20 minutes we lasted. It’s like he completely gave up, holding the mike fully away when it was clearly his voice.

      At least we didn’t get stuck in traffic getting out. An awful lot if other people were leaving too, se we weren’t alone.

      Come on journo’s, please write honest reviews!!

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