Vega, Copenhagen - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Whitesnake, one more of those bands which were booked for KB Hallen, had changed their venue to Vega instead, a good substitute even though it lacks somewhat in size to the aforementioned hall. This meant the place was near to, if not completely, sold out for the old hard rock/heavy metal band.

Before Whitesnake played though, there was the support-band The Answer. It’s not my usual style to mention the support bands in the review for the main band, but these guys deserves a hell of a lot of respect, and this was the best way to it to them.
The Answer is a bluesy hard rock/heavy metal band from Northern Ireland, similar in style to the first wave of heavy metal bands in the late 60ies and early 70ies (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, etc.) which to date have released three full-length albums. More importantly than this though, and the reason for their inclusion here, is that they are one hell of a powerful live-act. It is extremely seldom that we see support bands which act as though they were headlining (in a positive way that is), and sometimes we even run into headlining bands which can’t do this properly; The Answer was a delightful exception from this rule, as they were truly on fire on the stage and gave Whitesnake a good run for their money during the 35-40 minutes they had to play in.

After a break, The Who’s first top song My Generation signalled the beginning of the main event of the evening, the Whitesnake concert!
On came the band to loud cheers from the filled hall, and they quickly started the show off by playing Bad Boys, a little something to get the party going. This was exactly what was done as well, and even though the audience reaction isn’t the same as the one I’m used to from going to gigs with a younger audience, there was no doubt in my mind that the same feeling was present, and the affection for the band was the same whether you show it by a moshpit or by singing loudly along to the lyrics and raising your fist to the sky.
During the course of the night and the just above two hours long set a lot of old classics were pulled out of the bag, some less surprising than others, but here was also time for some newer materials, evident in Steal Your Heart Away, Love Will Set You Free and the title-track of their 2011 album Forevermore. The newer additions were definitely in line with Whitesnake’s older material, and were duly well-received even though the sing-along wasn’t quite as loud as for songs like Give Me All Your Love, Love Ain’t No Stranger and Here I Go Again, where the latter completely blew the roof of the building by the loud, helping voices of the crowd! The song after this one, Still Of The Night (also from their self-titled 1987 album), also had prominent crowd participation, as David Coverdale would sing one line, after which the audience would respond by singing the next one.
Finally, the set also included a few covers from other artists. The most obvious ones were of course the Deep Purple covers Soldier Of Fortune, which was delivered in a beautiful a cappella version of Coverdale which saw the entire hall silent in reverence, and the medley version of Burn and Stormbringer, but there was also another one, not quite as obvious, in B.B. King’s Rock Me Baby and one surprising even to the band in the short improvisation of Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream during the presentation of the band. It was after this that Coverdale commented that you never knew what you would get going to a Whitesnake show, not even as a band!

But songs would not be the only things played this night though, solo’s of various incarnations also filled more than their fair share of the play-time.
Especially guitarist Doug Aldrich got to lay down a lot of guitar wankery throughout the show, including a slide-guitar opening to Steal Your Heart Away, various other extended openings and some acoustic stuff for Forevermore. It was also in the latter that we were introduced by Coverdale to the first time in Denmark ever, the Whitesnake chair! This was used by Aldrich while playing the acoustic guitar. First time in Denmark though... Maybe Coverdale should check his memory just a little bit closer the next time; this was the same chair used on the bands last visit, back in 2008, and maybe it even holds a longer history than that (I wouldn’t know as that was the first time I saw Whitesnake).
There was also a more regular sort of guitar duel between Aldrich and ’Reb’ Beach, something which even though displaying the high technical quality of both guitarists, just seemed to drag on into forevermore (pun intended), before it was finally ended with the Snake Dance, the only enjoyable part of the whole deal, and even this was made ok due to bassist Michael Devin’s singing...
Another man who got time to shine was drummer Brian Tichy, who even though he had been playing around in a most entertaining way in every song played so far, still got a good 15 minutes or more to play some solo drumming in! I admit that there were some unexpected twists and new thinking in the whole drum-soloing business in what he did, what with the ultraviolet and shining sticks part, the no-sticks-just-playing-with-my-bare-hands part and the visit of Aldrich on drums and Devin on some funky bass. Sure, it was also both intense and well-played, but it was just as surely just too much damn time spent on something as trivial as a solo! Cut it down by two thirds at the very least and maybe you’re on to something good!

But let’s look beyond that for a moment.
The Copenhagen crowd obviously loved the band no matter what they did, and several in the audience had even brought gifts for the benefit of the world-famous frontman. In the more politically correct side of things someone handed him a bouquet of flowers, and another handed him a gift-wrapped CD. In the other end of the line, someone threw a pair of g-string panties up to him. For some unknown reason he decided to have a sniff on them, after which he said it (the smell) reminded him of an old stripper acquaintance he had made at an earlier visit to our fair city, called Vinnie. He also mentioned that if anyone knew her, he would like them to send his love for her...
The gifts didn’t just go one way though, all of the members of the band (except keyboarder Brian Ruedy) were glad to hand out little memento’s to the band; in fact, both Beach and Aldrich had to have their back-up picks refilled during the show because they were handing so many of them out to the audience!
Devin was not quite as active in the handing out of his picks, but on the other hand when the show was drawing near the end Coverdale grabbed a good handful of them and handed them out instead as he had nothing of his own to give.
Tichy was good at throwing sticks around during the show, and when the concert was over he also had a couple of signed drumskins which he wanted to throw to the audience, but as the band wasn’t very willing to go home, he got held back a few times before he was actually able to send them flying out over an anticipating audience.

No, as I mentioned, the band didn’t want to end the show. It was so serious in fact, that when the outro melody began to play, this was We Wish You Well from the Lovehunter album, Coverdale stayed on at the front of the stage and sang along to the tape!
No doubt they were in a festive mood and happy to be here, the only part of the festivity that I didn’t really get into though, was the constant mentioning of Christmas and all the Christmas cheers that Coverdale was sending out all the time. On the other hand, the CD he was handed was wrapped in a Christmassy wrapping paper, and I don’t expect the ensemble to be back with another show this side of the holiday, so if he wanted to send greetings out, now was definitely the time to do so!
And he clearly has a special place for Denmark in his heart (and liver), as he was fondly reminiscing about times he had spent in our country in the past; one tour of the Carlsberg brewery was especially well-etched into his memory, but he also had kind condolences’ for the loss of KB Hallen...

All in all though, what does this add up to?
Well, my initial thought was that Whitesnake would have a hard time outdoing their brought along competition in The Answer.
Truth be told, Whitesnake was a rather uneven affair, what with all of the over the top solo stretches, but when the band was good, they were f’ng awesome to behold! So for this time at least, age wins. But there is definitely room for improvement. Tighten it up boys, and you’ll be unbeatable...


Bad Boys
Give Me All Your Love
Love Ain’t No Stranger
The Deeper The Love
Steal Your Heart Away
Solo (Aldrich, Beach)
Snake Dance
Can You Hear The Wind Blow
Rock Me Baby (B.B. King cover)
Love Will Set You Free
Solo (Tichy)
Is This Love
Fool For Your Loving
Here I Go Again
Still Of The Night
Soldier Of Fortune (Deep Purple cover)
Medley (Deep Purple covers)
We Wish You Well (vocals only)

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