Rock Review: Last screams of an old rocker

Whitesnake

Labatt's Apollo, Manchester

This was likely to be very heavy, man. , almost the last Spinal Tap-style metal band in the land, on their last-ever (or so they say) tour before they unzip their pointy boots, hang up their leathers and settle down in rocking chairs with a hundredweight of Strepsils. Mean machine David Coverdale had promised quite a flourish (which turned out mainly to be bass amped up to defibrillator level), and you think the fans will be baying and punching the air, possibly even weeping. Cool.

Of course, some people find bands like the 'Snake a bit embarrassing. There's not a lot of room for all that heavy-weather bluster since Nirvana and grunge replaced it with more sophistication. Still, there's a legacy of something here: the last dregs of Deep Purple and the Coverdale voice, unmatched in the business - high notes that, sung in Southend, could strip paint as far away as Scunthorpe. As it turns out, the people who seem most embarrassed about are their record label. EMI, initially, cannot furnish you with a CD. Press cuttings? They're already "in the archives" (under Jurassic, perhaps). Finally, you drive 200 miles on a dark and stormy night, and end up begging for your complimentary ticket from a security guard at the back door with tattoos all over his face and an attitude problem. ("No ticket - you're joking." "I do not joke.") Sometimes, you have to fight for the right to party. But you get in. Hey, you're a rock chick, and you're ready to rock.

Coverdale is not what you expect. In every sense, he is , and the band exists almost solely in his mind - he's hired and fired more members than he's had split ends, hunting for guitarists to match his own drive and passion. On Saturday, it was his sheer charisma that propelled a two-hour set. Instead of the monomaniacal shrieker who comes across on record, the man in the dapper blue jacket and newly-shorn crop behaved like nothing so much as a camp, cut-glass panto dandy, an uncanny amalgam of Pierce Brosnan, Max Wall and Joan Collins, and the more he sent himself up, the more likeable he became. It was for Coverdale and his deeply sexist songs that the term "cock rock" was coined, but he sent up half of those, too. So, after a few bars of "Slide It In" he delivered a memorable aphorism on safe sex ("don't be daft, don't be silly put a snakeskin on your willy") - and, after "Ready and Willing", he told someone screaming for Slow 'n' Easy, "Oh, fuck off - have some respect for my age".

Of course, age has nothing to do with it: the voice still has a 10-octave range and only Nastassia Kinski lookalike guitarist Adrian Vandenberg could keep up with him for vigour. But though the hits - "Is This Love?", "Fool for Your Loving", "Lovehunter" - did the business, a side order of formula rawk just didn't stand the test. It was Coverdale's idea to wind up , and there was a certain "this is who we used to be" feel to proceedings. Only once did he deliver the 12-bar blues he used to say he was about, and that was the cover of Bobby Bland's "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" he's made his very own. It was racked with glorious, Foreign Legion-style pain, and it made the tinnitus and the wind-lashed night worthwhile.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

    £40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Broker / Purchaser

    £18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

    £18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'