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Whitesnake

by Malcolm Mawhinney

1978 – David Coverdale founded Whitesnake after his departure from Deep Purple. Originally Coverdale’s backing band to promote his first solo album ‘White Snake’, released in 1977, ‘The White Snake Band’ became ‘David Coverdale’s Whitesnake’ and finally that album title became the band that made its debut in Taipei last night, 33 years after it all began.

Of course, it hasn’t been all continuous. Coverdale: “I’ve retired more times than Frank Sinatra – but it never lasted for long…”. Despite stoppages there has always been a reformation, despite the many line-ups there has always been David Coverdale. Whitesnake is David Coverdale but what a backing band he has today – top quality rock gods.

‘Forevermore’ is Whitesnake’s 11th studio album and sees them riding the resurgence of ‘80’s rock that seems to be sweeping our planet. The near-capacity crowd at the Taipei International Convention Centre certainly knew all the words and the intimate space meant we were all practically within touching distance. I didn’t know what to expect and was blown away on all fronts – we are THAT close to them? – woah, heavy, heavy sound – David Coverdale is how old?!

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The set list was drawn heavily from the latest album – ‘Steal Your Heart Away’, ‘My Evil Ways’, title track ‘Forevermore’ featuring the acoustic guitar work of Aldrich. Coverdale’s voice is in good form, from ballads and love songs to old-time wailing, it’s all still there. Of course, we were treated to ‘that song’ – ‘Here We Go Again’. One you have to hear live and woah, does it take you back!

Guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach are coming up to their 10th year with Whitesnake and these two are breath-taking. Doug Aldrich has this rock presence, the blond mane, the open shirt, abs, which propel him forward but this does not overshadow Beach. Both have distinctive styles yet their playing complements each other. Lead breaks are shared, double leads are dropped in and the guitar extravaganza mid-show was awesome – Aldrich commanding the stage with pure grunge and wailing solos before tagging in Beach who gave the crowd a lesson in two-handed tapping. The wall of Marshall’s behind were well used.

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The rhythm section are all just a year in with Whitesnake. Bassist Michael Devin and Brian Ruedy on keyboards are a solid and inspired foil for the maniacal Brian Tichy, former Billy Idol drummer/multi-instrumentalist/song writer, on drums and percussion. Tichy was given his solo spot later in the set and really is the 21st-Century embodiment of ‘Animal’ from ‘The Muppets’. From a thundering double-kick drumming base, the whole kit was used, drum sticks flew vertical, only to be caught with ease (a particular part of Tichy’s style seen throughout the show – he only missed one), before the sticks were given up to the crowd and chop-sticks used…then cooking cleavers…then nothing but flesh (knuckles to the fore). To finish us off the ultra-violet came on and Tichy grabbed multiple glowing sticks to dazzle us visually as well as sonically.

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Whitesnake – you have to give them credit, it was an electric show and no one is exactly young anymore up there. I sincerely hope this was the first rock concert experience for some of the Taipei punters because it was a ‘101’ on rock – clear, simple songs, no fluff; faultless playing and an in-your-face stage presence – awesome ‘rock poses’ from all. Just because it’s a cliché, doesn’t mean it’s not true, right? Forget ‘Guitar Hero’, go to a Whitesnake concert!

And does Coverdale know his stuff or what? He can still whip up a crowd, woo the ladies (girls) and strut about as if it were 1988. Being that close, you knew he could see you, all responded as demanded – as did the Taiwan promoter who Coverdale spotted sitting down leaning jaw-on-hand and let him know in no uncertain terms that he was to get up and get interested. What a breath of fresh air having an English Rock God up there on the mic!

The Forevermore Tour 2011 continues through Asia, having come through Japan, South Korea and Taiwan the Whitesnake train now heads for Malaysia and Singapore, but it does not end there. Having launched in May in USA, hit Europe in June, returned to USA in August then down through South America in September, Whitesnake grabbed a drink in Mexico before heading our way. Once Singapore has had their ‘Rock 101’ lesson the band works its way back through Europe before finishing up in England come December – watch out Wolverhampton!

And along the way, David Coverdale turned 60 in September. Forevermore, right?

Whitesnake

Malcolm Mawhinney is a musician currently based in Taipei, after many years in Shanghai. Music is Music so being classically trained doesn't stop him getting to all kinds of weird and wonderful / heavenly and heavy concerts, gigs and happenings.


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