Thunder, Whitesnake, Journey – Wembley Arena, 29th May 2013
A triple whammy of classic rock rolled into Wembley last night. Openers Thunder were more than capable of setting the pace, ripping into ‘Dirty Love’. Singer Danny Bowes has a down to earth charisma, and the years haven’t diminished his pipes in the slightest. Last time I saw Thunder they had reformed to play the High Voltage festival, their rendition of ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ that day in Victoria Park was a sunny highlight. It looks like their reformation is a semi ongoing affair. Judging by the crowds reaction to gems like ‘Backstreet Symphony’ and ‘I Love You More Than Rock n Roll‘, their retirement can be put off for a good while yet.
Photo: Neil Kitson
Next up are Whitesnake, who for many steal the show tonight. David Coverdale is the poshest frontman in rock, he regally invites the crowd to ‘make some fucking noise’ as they launch into ‘Give Me All Your Love’ and ‘Ready and Willing’. After 35 years his vocal range may be slightly shorter and grittier overall, but his trademark rock deity swagger is as fun as ever. Coverdale may be Whitesnake’s only constant, but the rest of the band are no mere backing players, guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach trade solos, and longtime drummer Tommy Aldridge turns in a trademark solo that finishes with him punishing the kit with his bare hands like Animal from the muppets. New boy bass player Michael Devin also gets a bit of a harmonica solo. No one wants a bass solo. Chops duly proven it’s back to the hits, on a clear road to the land of ‘Here I Go Again’-dia. It’s been a long time since Tawny Kitaen danced on the bonnet of Whitesnake’s car, but that tune is still a solid gold classic.
Photo: Craig Thomas
Photo: Ross Gilmore
After Whitesnake’s dirty blues rock, Journey come across as positively squeaky clean. Uplifting, harmonious and the epitome of radio friendly rock they cruise through their back catalogue, perhaps leaning a little on the rock edge, given tonight’s company. Lead Singer Arnel Pineda bounds around the stage, hitting every note perfectly, grinning from ear to ear like he still can’t believe his luck that he landed this gig. Neal Schon’s guitar playing is exemplary, never overly flashy, but driving and melodic. Highlights include the beautiful ballad/singalong ‘Lights’. Where it seems mobile phone screens have replaced lighters as THE item to hold aloft for such songs now. ‘Anyway You Want It’ and ‘Open Arms’ are further highlights. But as with Whitesnake, (or Motörhead, Bryan Adams or Sinatra in his day) there’s one song they have to play before being allowed to leave the building. ‘Don’t Stop Believin‘ may owe a debt to Glee and The Sopranos for it’s new lease of life, but that doesn’t diminish it’s power and grandeur. Topped off with confetti cannons and a hearty goodbye, few could deny they got their money’s worth of RAWK and then some.
Photo: Dom Henry
Photo: Sakura Henderson
Photo: Dom Henry
Thunder Set List Wembley 29/05/13
River Of Pain
Low Life In High Places
The Devil Made Me Do It
Love Walked In
I Love You More Than Rock’n’Roll
Give Me All Your Love
Ready an’ Willing
Can You Hear the Wind Blow
Don’t Break My Heart Again
Is This Love
(dedicated to Mel Galley, Cozy Powell and Jon Lord)
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