@Ramblin’ Man Fair, Mote Park, Kent, July 23 2016
It’s become both popular and predictable to suggest David Coverdale is past it. But if that’s really the case then why are Whitesnake still gigging for six months a year, still headlining huge summer festivals and still home to some of the best musicians money can buy?
Sure, one of Britain’s favourite blues rock singers is no longer at the top of his game vocally. There’s a reason he surrounds himself with crack guitarists who capture the imagination and a bass player who’d comfortably front most bands. DC doesn’t pretend he can do it all. And the necessary diversion tactics work wonders.
But there are plenty of Coverdale wannabes who’d happily trade their lot in life for half the talent still running wild through the charismatic Teessider. And as the focal point for one of rock’s most treasured brands who else – in all seriousness – could credibly guide fans through a quite sensational Greatest Hits set?
Come to terms with the fact that Coverdale won’t sing every word of every song and accept that a number of high notes have long since proved out of reach and it’s clear there’s still so much to love about Whitesnake live. This is a well oiled rock and roll machine underpinned by bona fide classics that will live on long after the daddy of all superstar singers finally calls it a day. It’s pure escapism – guaranteed. And only Coverdale can take the audience there.
He still has the balls, the banter and the brilliant smile. And that’s more than enough. But more important than that he has still the passion for a back catalogue that bears his unique songwriting craft. So heavily invested in the brand, Coverdale is still the only person who can lead the band. But like all good leaders he’s learnt to delegate.
That’s why we get Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach shredding for fun, Michael Devin centre stage with a key role to play and 65-year-old Tommy Aldridge beating the shit out of his kit with his bare hands. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it works. And when Coverdale joins the fray Whitesnake remain utterly compelling.
Opener Bad Boys bristled with intent and Slide It In took things up a sleazy notch. The Deeper The Love – an oft overlooked gem from Slip Of The Tongue – showcased Coverdale at his balladeering best and the hits kept on coming.
Is This Love, Give Me All Your Love and Here I Go Again are songs of their time that stand the test of time. And Coverdale can still sing all three with the zeal and focus of men half his age. The world of rock will be a poorer place when Whitesnake’s frontman does decide to step down – writing him off prematurely serves no purpose whatsoever.