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Gothenburg: End of the road for Whitesnake?

David Coverdale proved on Dec 17th in Gothenburg that he´s taken the current incarnation of Whitesnake as far as he can. Although DC increasingly needs the band to fall back on, the success or failure of a Whitesnake concert is still very much a result of Coverdale´s performance. In some areas he did very well, and less so in others.

I saw less energy than at Sweden Rock (June 6th 2008), and less energy than a couple of years ago. This wasn´t helped by the slight feeling of `another day at the job´ that I got from parts of the band. But then again, the conditions could have been better. The atmosphere was initially less than lively in `the Scandinavium´, as DC called the venue while reminiscing about his first time here with Deep Purple in 1973. A nice touch (DC alone on stage for this `speech´) and although I´m sure it happened in Stockholm too, it felt sincere and shows he still has lots to give to an audience.

During the course of the evening he went for quite a lot of crowd contact, passing out beer and reacting to things going on out there. He also had regular exchanges with the band. For example, when trying to remember what year Soldier of Fortune was written, Aldrich offered `76 with DC playfully responding `1976? Are you fucking kidding me?´, implying that the guitarist didn´t know his Deep Purple history very well. Things like that kept it fresh. He could have kept the chatter to a minimum and just got through the show, but instead he worked hard and managed to get feedback from the crowd, even on this Wednesday night with people more or less coming in after work. This was not South America.

His singing sounded better than expected, without making any comparisons to the old days. In the opener Best Years I got the odd feeling of delivery and vocals not matching, though I´m confident that any playback rumours are just that. But, he sure does have a lot of help from his backing singers. Timothy Drury now even sounds like DC in the lower registers.

As for the performance of the actual songs, I´m afraid there´s really nothing new to report, going back to my comment about DC having taken this as far as he can. There´s only so many times you can hear them perform `Love Ain´t No Stranger´, `Is this Love´ and `Fool for your Loving´ with these kind of dynamics (Marshalls to 12, drummer banging away on `empty barrels´) before you start to long for something else.

And we got something else in the shape of 2 glorious acoustic versions of The Deeper the Love and Soldier of Fortune. The `another day at the job´ feeling immediately went away, all the `empty noise´ did too, and what was left was DC´s voice and an acoustic guitar. This was the real thing. Whether it would work for a full evening I´m not sure, but those songs (plus an impromptu and inspired acoustic snippet of Slow an Easy) were the highlights of the evening and made the `bad, bad boys´ delivery of the rest of the songs feel redundant, especially since DC clearly does not have the voice for that anymore.

Speaking of redundant, the 10-minute extended guitar solo, featuring both Aldrich and Beach, needs to go – a totally pointless exercise in notes and speed. The drum solo was better, and hinted that Chris Frazier probably knows a trick or two from outside the `Tommy Aldridge catalogue´.

In summary, the Whitesnake machine is so well oiled, with background vocals and everything, that it wouldn´t be a problem for DC to keep on touring like this, featuring this kind of presentation. But I can´t see how it could be fulfilling to him, creatively speaking. I know it wouldn´t be for me as a fan, and if they came here again I wouldn´t go.

Last night´s performance showed glimpses of a DC that still can shine. Let´s hope we can see more of him in the next couple of years.

18 Comments to “Gothenburg: End of the road for Whitesnake?”:

  1. 1
    Rasmus Heide says:

    Kewl review!

    The shows here in December don’t seem to differ much from the ones last summer – in terms of both songs and vocal capabilities – or lack thereof.

    Sadly, DC seems hell bent on ruining what’s left of his great voice on big guns and grand posturing – when he’d be much better off flooring everyone with his quality songs under more intimate settings. Charge double price and offer quality singing!

    Starkers in Tokyo, anyone?

  2. 2
    Chip says:

    Agreed. A very thoughtful review. The acoustic version of SOF was really good and this type of show is really good and I’d pay to see that for sure…

    But would the masses? They wanna hear Still of the Night and Here I Come Again….

    Kinda like leaving SOW out of a DP show. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit…but you’d have a lot of dissapointed casual fans.

  3. 3
    Roberto says:

    Very good review…
    Please DC stop this tour and reform the OLD whitesnake or do solo albums…you can’t scream anymore and we are not stupid fans…

  4. 4
    Crimson Ghost says:

    I agree with Ras, Starkers is such a quality contrast to what he is doing now, and you know he liked doing that, so why not show some serious class and do this kind of thing, it would be a stress free situation too… who wouldn’t agree?(maybe those who’ve yet to see or hear Starkers, but they don’t know what they missed there, a truly inspiring set)

  5. 5
    Jason says:

    Very thoughtful and fair review.

  6. 6
    Jason says:

    Allow me to elaborate with some additional thoughts.

    It is a shame that the expectations of the casual fan base have virtually “locked” singers such as Coverdale into revisiting former glories with increasingly diminishing returns. Any attempt to change things up or deviate from their formula is usually met with equal parts befuddlement and rage. It has happened to so many singers and bands.

    Obviously, there’s untapped potential in Coverdale exploring a softer route, or at least one less focused on belting out roaring hard rock numbers. Unfortunately, this avenue won’t make him much money except from the hardcore faithful.

  7. 7
    Bo says:

    Roberto and Rasmus – I agree 101%!!

    Play the old Purple Mrk III and Whitesnake LP/CDs and forget about this sad version of Whitesnake.

  8. 8
    Alex says:

    I also agree. In my point of view, Whitesnake now is only a shadow of the popular group, not speaking about that it was never a real rock band compearing with the Rainbow for example.

  9. 9
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Walking in the shadow of the blues indeed.

  10. 10
    AndreA says:

    SLIDE IT IN is my last love,
    even if I listened subsequent works..

  11. 11
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Slide it in is a GREAT album, apart from those horrible 2 tracks with lyrics or should I say titles over the top…..
    Guess which ones…
    The Gambler, Love aint no stranger, standing in the shadows of love, all or nothing, slow and easy are true gems.

  12. 12
    Rascal says:

    A bit of ‘silver tongue tenderness’?

    What every man needs

  13. 13
    jesse says:

    Well didn’t see them this time though I was eager to find out how much Chris Frazier would lift the band.
    reading his interview on joining Whitesnake taking it back to more of a Cozy Powell approach sounded so right.
    Being a drummer myself I really never understood how Tommy Aldridge was allowed to really fuck up everything with his double bassdrumming all over the place.

  14. 14
    AndreA says:

    #11 purplepriest1965

    Dear PP,
    yes I agree…

    About SLIDE IT IN (slide what? gh)
    Which album do you prefer?
    the 1st original with Moody or the 2nd re-recordered
    with John Sykes?

    to be sincere I posses only the 2nd version,the 1st I heard only on radiofm but sure I love it…

    ciao PP
    stay well

  15. 15
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Anytime and anyday wherever possible, Rascal

    I do posses both versions…..Andrea
    I m afraid I have to admit I prefer the 2nd edition of Slide It In, which together with Live in the heart of the city and Come and Get It is my fav

    Although you can make a splendid sampler of the 87 and 89 albums and maybe a fe tracks of the ones after that, I think it s a disaster doing it live because its not suited really for DC s vocals

  16. 16
    AndreA says:

    Live in the heart of the city

    great hard rock stuff,one of my first vinyl I bought in my life.

    I like that sound, and I like to listen that great musician that is Neil Murray ,with Jon Lord and Ian Paice..

  17. 17
    Aishah Bowron says:

    My favourite era of Whitesnake is from 1977 to 1984. For me, Whitesnake died after Jon Lord and Mel Galley left.

  18. 18
    jantchc says:

    i didn’t understand the mention of south america in your review. could you explain?

    also i disagree with your view that WS should do unplugged tours..

    that’s not WS..

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