What could possibly better than a Sunday night listening to one of the best Whitesnake albums ever recorded ‘Ready An’ Willing’ ?
I’ll tell you what’s better, hearing and seeing the songs performed live by former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden and a few of the finest artists around the rock scene, live on stage here in Stoke for the first time in 40 years.
No support band tonight, it was a sold-out venue with a definite buzz in the air, the anticipation palpable as the band took to the stage. Dino, drums and Mark, bass (Hand of Dimes), Huw Weston, keys, Jim Kirkpatrick (FM), guitar and Nev MacDonald (Skin, Hand of Dimes) on vocals together with Bernie really do form a supergroup.
The set began with ‘Fool For Your Loving’ which saw the crowd rise to add additional vocals to the rich blues vocal of MacDonald. From the get-go it was clear that this was going to be a good night.
Swiftly following with ‘Sweet Talker’ the magic really did unfold. The riffs were clean and soaring, the tightness of this band of musicians was amazing. It was like they had been a ‘band’ for a long time, perhaps it’s the songs, the timelessness of them but whatever it was everything sounded spot on.
The lovely ladies on backing vocals added some melodic harmonies and enhancements to the songs to give a really full on sound. I absolutely love early Whitesnake and I wasn’t the only one, looking round at smiling faces, some had their eyes tight shut, other were singing along, others air guitaring their way through the set. Magical was the right word to describe it. The songs could have been written for Nev MacDonald to sing, his voice is so suited to their tone. ‘Carry Your Load’ and the stunning ‘Blindman’ gave me goose bumps. ‘Ain’t Gonna Cry No More’ followed as the setlist continued the track order from the album.
When Bernie spoke between songs it was to tell a tale or two which added to the feel of the night. ‘Love Man’ was next as Bernie joked that it would probably be banned these days due to the lyrics. ‘Black and Blue’, ‘She’s A Woman’, I could describe each track and the way it sounded but I won’t, you get the idea and you should know the songs, incredible timeless songs performed by the man who wrote or played them originally and a group of awesome musicians more than ably and a vocalist who can sing them as well as a certain Mr Coverdale. (Don’t judge me! I am a Coverdale fan but Nev nailed it!). So, with the album complete it was on to a few fan favourites to close the night.
No encore as Bernie ended up with heat exhaustion, it was appreciated that he had performed at all and how could you be disappointed with the night? You couldn’t, impossible to be. Hopefully recovered in time for Chesterfield on Thursday before the main event at The Tramshed in Cardiff on Friday. To coin a phrase, We wish you well Bernie.
Review by Lindsay Smith