And I’m not talking about the average age of the audiences who saw Whitesnake at Newcastle City Hall (about 45) and Kings of Leon at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland (30-ish).
As leaders of their respective bands, that snake charmer David Coverdale is the polar opposite of KOL’s Caleb Followill – and again it has nothing to do with the fact the former Deep Purple singer, who turns 60 this year, is old enough to be the American’s father.
Go to a Whitesnake gig and you’re granted an intimate audience with one of the most charismatic frontmen in rock music.
Coverdale is an egotist, a raconteur and yes, still a sex symbol. A master of thesmutty innuendo, he revels in the spotlight, interacts from first minute to last with his adoring public, cracks jokes, chats, shakes hands, blows kisses and no doubt collects phone numbers too.
Followill just sings. Well, that’s not strictly true. He occasionally makes some indecipherable comment in that Tennessee drawl of his but you sense he’d rather not.
As I wrote in last week’s review of the Kings of Leon, he lets his music do the talking and does it bloody well too.
Would KOL be even better if Followill connected with those beyond the stage?. Would Whitesnake fans prefer it if DC cut out the chit-chat and squeezed in another song? There’s no right or wrong answer.
A mate of mine who saw the Kings at Hyde Park in London this week loved the music but bemoaned the fact that “nothing happened” in between songs.
A casual fan of the band, he wanted Caleb to introduce songs, certainly the less well known ones.
Every frontman is different and as far as I’m concerned they can do what they like so long as they sing in tune.
Rush’s Geddy Lee, who probably has more jobs on stage than any other performer I’ve ever seen, tends to stick to a pre-written script, talking to the audience every three or four songs and, sensibly, always identifying the trio’s newer material which fans may be less familiar with.
Paul Rodgers is more spontaneous in between songs as is Robert Plant, who at a gig in Newcastle a few years ago, spent two minutes telling us of his love for Jesmond Dene and how, during his Led Zeppelin days, he sought its peace and sanctity ahead of a show.
Mark Knopfler is another who muses in such a fashion that the listener feels drawn into a private conversation.
I remember my sense of disappointment when Brian Johnson first played in his hometown during AC/DC’s Back In Black tour in 1980. It must have been a special night for the former Geordie vocalist yet not once did he make reference to the significance of the occasion.
Was it nerves? Not really because at subsequent AC/DC shows, I noticed Johnson is another – and older version of Followill if you like – who restricts himself to the odd remark, preferring to concentrate on the music.
And let’s face it, that’s why we pay hard-earned cash to hear our favourite groups sing live. Personality is one thing but in terms of what I want when I attend a show, it’s a way distant second to musicianship.