Review by Paddy Gallagher for MPM
It’s a sign of the times when the bands you grew up with in your formative years announce Farewell Tours. Bodies get old and achy; voices begin to struggle as the natural aging process takes its toll.
Very few of us will have started our musical journey with Progressive Rock / Metal, it was listening to bands like those on stage tonight playing Heavy Rock and straight-ahead Heavy Metal.
Tonight, sees the first gig on Whitesnake “The Farewell Tour”. An emotional night full of the hard-hitting anthems of youth and not so youth taking centre stage.
As with many vocalists, some of whom are well more than 10 years his junior, DC, as the band affectionately calls him, now 70 years young and after nearly 50 years globetrotting to a stage near everybody, may not have the strong distinctive vocal chords of his youth, but to be afforded the honour of being in the same building as him for possibly one last time (?) while listening to that iconic voice and marvel at his stage craft, should not be missed by any fan of Heavy Rock and indeed Metal!.
Starting proceedings off are Europe. Perhaps misrepresented by the hits of yesteryear, mention their name and folk think “The Final Countdown”, “Carrie” and “Cherokee”.
That was 1986 and 8 albums have been released since, 6 of which came after an 11-year hiatus ending in 2003 all of which contain excellent heavy, blues-tinged Rock!!! Some marvellous riffage accompanied Joey Tempest’s vocals getting the fist pumps heading towards the ceiling.
It’ll be 40 years next year since Europe released their debut album and Joey’s voice must be commended; it’s still in top form! A 45-minute set of musical excellence with John Norum shredding with skilled perfection, the only downside being the minimal lighting afforded to the band, the spotlight operator having trouble keeping up with Joey as he hurdled over monitors.
It’s acknowledged they were the opening act but come on! There must be logistical reasons as obviously all three bands couldn’t bring a full stage production, but hopefully when they return in a headline capacity, Europe can strut their bluesy riffs in a full production of their own as indicated by Joey at the end of the gig with a “see you soon Dublin”.
After a change over, Foreigner took to the stage with a set up and lighting of near headline standard; and these guys showed their calibre, arena experience oozing from them. The hits flowed: “Double Vision”, “Head Games”, “Cold As Ice”, “Dirty White Boy” etc bringing the nostalgia.
Vocalist Kelly Hansen was proudly waving his Irish passport about revelling in playing his mother’s hometown, Bassist Jeff Pilson throwing his Metal shapes harking back to his musical history being a member of the classic Dokken line up and playing on 3 Dio albums.
His latest project, the most excellent Black Swan has just released their second album “Generation Mind” and they are highly recommended. It also features Ireland’s own Robin McAuley, Reb Beach from Whitesnake and Matt Starr who has played with Ace Frehley and Mr Big.
Encore time came around way too soon, but we were blessed with the presence of Mick Jones for 3 songs, including the had to be played “I Wanna Know What Love Is”. His presence emphasising the sheer abundance of musical talent within this building tonight. Brilliant to see him, 77 years young and as iconic as ever.
And so, we come to the Headline act. The amount of advertising this gig was getting on national radio gave worry of a poor attendance, but all three acts had a near capacity crowd with only a few blue, empty seats visible.
And how special was it to see DC strut his stuff one last time in Dublin? While his vocals may not be as strong as they were, he produced a seasoned, professional and emotional performance, evident in his speech towards the end of the gig.
Having been through a few members during its lifespan, tonight saw Whitesnake return with seasoned regular ‘Snakes Tommy Aldridge, Reb Beach, Joel Hoekstra and Michele Luppi.
New to the line-up was Dino Jelusick on Keyboards and historically the first female ‘Snake, Mullingar’s own Tanya O’Callaghan.
A special shout out to Tanya O’Callaghan; how special and nerve wrecking was it for her to perform her Whitesnake debut on home soil? She owned it, surely the big step in her career that will catapult her onwards to stardom. The crowd was right behind her tonight and delighted for her!
The classics were played including “Slide it In”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Slow an’ Easy” etc and a few cuts from the latest studio album “Flesh & Blood”. All the band played a blinder, and I must say, kudos to Tommy Aldridge, still pounding out a magnificent drum solo, partly with his hands, at 71 is a testament to him!
As stated earlier by Joey Tempest and re-iterated again by DC, after the last 2 years isn’t it great to be back on the road and on stage and mingling with like minded people. Don’t take nights like this for granted folks! Life is fragile and time marches on.
As we headed off into the still of the night to the echoes of “We Wish You Well”, nobody will make us afraid DC, we wish you well; we thank you for a lifetime of soul touching music. And if you do decide to tour again, we won’t complain. We’ll be there!
Photography by Darren Mcveigh for MPM