Maiden, Metallica, Sabbath and now Whitesnake – for some reason Dublin is missing out on a lot of high quality metal and rock shows these last couple of years; with the bands choosing to play up north instead. In some ways it sucks, but if you’re from the north it’s probably a long overdue welcome. In fairness, a few minutes walking around Belfast or nearly any other northern city/town and you see streets chock-full of Maiden, Motorhead, and Scorpions t-shirts; far more than you tend to see this side of the border. With that comes a high expectation of a good rock crowd for gigs though and tonight, that expectation isn’t met. It’s not Belfast’s fault, I’ve had great fun there before. It certainly isn’t Whitesnake or Thunder’s fault.…hmmmmm.
Thunder bang on first; a hearty thirty minutes after the doors open. Despite the earliness of the show (and the strict no smoking rule in the Odyssey), there’s a throng of seated and standing fans in to witness the return of Thunder to the live arena. After several on / off years – the band are now on their first major tour in years with appearances at Download and Wacken also on the bill. They show their age slightly in the unadvised leaps in the air, beer bellies slipping out, and occasional sloppiness, but they go down well and have a laugh. Danny Bowes even manages to pull a few reluctant sing alongs out while those first pints ease us into relaxation.
Whitesnake, on the other hand, have rarely left the colossal amphitheatres they helped create. David Coverdale is a huge presence on stage and he wins his crowd through a perfect mixture of charisma, talent, charm and, of course, complete tongue in cheek cheesiness and comically refined expletives. David is rock’s greatest love poet and after 35 years at the helm of this band, still has the chops to back it all up. Yes, Tickets There is a fan.
Whitesnake emerge in great spirits with no pretention, bluster or pandering. Smiles beam from their faces as they cross the stage and see the packed room explode with delight. ‘Give Me All Your Love’ roars out sounding as sharp as it did in 1987. Although the crowd seem to out sing Whitesnake’s PA, there’s a distinct lack of atmosphere from some pockets and their merchandise, beige and stripped ‘recreational’ shirts and corduroy give the game away. They’re here for one thing – ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. That’s right, there’s a Journey show happening after Whitesnake and these guys have gotten in early. Most watch the show with the same enthusiasm they’d review the stocks on CNN. While Whitesnake shred through ‘Ready an’ Willing’, ‘Can You Hear The Wind Blow’ and the epic, ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart Again’, the older Journey fans stare blankly, sipping glasses of wine. The younger ones spend the time shouting at each other about the cheap brand WKD on sale and how they love ‘Thunderstruck’. Not the best mix for a rocking atmosphere.
On stage, the snake continue to bash out a set nicely mixed between classic favourites like ‘Is This Love’ and ‘Gambler’ (lovingly dedicated to the memory of former WS guitarist, Mel Galley), to newer material ‘Love Will Set You Free, ‘Steal Your Heart Away’ and ‘Forevermore’. The roaring guitar duel between Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach shreds through the crowd before the battle continues with a taste of ‘Best Years’ and a final kicking of Whitesnake standards, ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Fool For Your Loving’, ‘Here I Go Again’ and the number one – ‘Still of the Night’. Whitesnake gracefully bow and thank the crowd before departing into the warm Belfast night. This blogger takes a page from their book and scarpers. Journey fans are approaching the arena and f**k knows what could happen……something very exciting we’re sure….coughs.
(My sincerest apologies for the terrible photos. I hung on towards the back and yes, I regret that now…. and I may have been drinking)