Live Review: Whitesnake / Foreigner / Europe at Newcastle Arena [14th May 2022]

By May 18, 2022 Live, News, Reviews

It’s the Final Countdown for David Coverdale and Whitesnake, while Foreigner bring all the Classic Rock hits to Newcastle Arena

All Words and Photos: John Hayhurst

Tonight is a celebration of all things Classic Rock and in particular David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, as they embark on a lengthy farewell tour across the globe, this all started in Dublin last week, so we are honoured to be at Newcastle Arena for the last big Arena date of this band in the North East. Coverdale was born down the coast in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, so this adds a tinge of extra emotion to the night.

Coverdale is now a 70 year old rocker, so you have to forgive the odd misfire of vocals here and there, he is clearly pulling the mic away from his mouth more and letting keyboardist Dino Jelusick take the lions share of the high notes, it works though, and leaves Coverdale to do what he does best – be that enigmatic frontman, thrusting his hips, spinning the mic stand, shaking that long mane of hair and taking us all back 40 years to those heady heavy metal and blues years of ‘Come an Get It’, Ready an Willin’ and ‘Saints and Sinners’. Those were the 3 albums I played from start to finish, I was just in the latter years at secondary school and nearly all our form were fans. It’s appropriate that tonight I’m sharing the experience with a school buddy I haven’t properly seen since that time.

First Europe though and Joey Tempest is in the white spotlight for a lengthy 9 song support set, which he loves. He still has a voice that is powerful and strong, and knows how to work the stage and audience. ‘Rock the Night’, ‘Carrie’, and ‘Superstitious’ are nicely slotted in-between the lesser known tracks – so everyone is happy. He dedicates a song to their tour manager whose birthday it is today and then even manages to get a showsec staff member to join in as he holds the microphone close to his mouth. The very tight set ends of course with their biggest hit ‘The Final Countdown’, a bombastic slice of classic rock served up right there, and everyone is so up for a bounce and sing-along. As the audience are now pushing into their 50’s and 60’s we get a few people needing a breather after that, but it is a very short turnaround before Foreigner are next on stage.

Foreigner are really joint headliners tonight, they have an equal share of setlist time and we get a hit laden set. ‘Double Vision’ kicks us off and from the moment Kelly Hansen steps on to the stage he headed straight for the end of the walkway, practically in the face of the front row. I’m also taking photographs in the pit tonight and the wide angle lens I have only just gets his body in full. He then proceeds to grab a tamborine and jumps down into the area where we are stood. That wouldn’t be the only close encounter I get!

Foreigner have some of the biggest hits of that AOR period in the late 70’s and early 80’s and they pretty much nail all of them live tonight. Yes I know there are no original founding members left in this band as Mick Jones will only make an entrance for the last 3 songs, but for 90% of us here we don’t care, the energy that this band bring to the stage is infectious and in Hansen they have a frontman who is like Steven Tyler/Lou Gramm rolled into one. Fantastic voice and unbridled passion for these songs ‘Juke Box Hero’ and ‘Feel Like the First Time’ are stunning slices of rock just made for arenas. Guitarists Bruce Watson and new player Luis Maldonado add some inspired guitar work and vocal harmonies to the mix, although we do miss Thom Gimbel’s sax playing on ‘Urgent’, instead Michael Bluestein produces a keytar solo for a much lesser effect. By this time Kelly Hansen is almost doing a cowbell solo at the back of the stage which leads up to an actual drum solo from Chris Frazier, thankfully not too long though, I’d have sacrificed that for ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’ any day.

Hansen introduces Mick Jones to the stage and he looks a little lost to be honest, but it is his band and he proceeds to play a little guitar on ‘Long Long Way From Home’ before a keyboard is rolled in for ‘I Want to Know What Love is’, probably the biggest power ballad ever heard at this arena. All hands are up and smartphone lights are on, Hansen decides he wants to take a photo of the scene, so attempts to borrow my camera – with me still attached to it via a harness. Hilarity ensued whilst all the while he was still singing their biggest hit – see photo.

After that Jones strikes the uncompromising riff to ‘Hot Blooded’ and we are off on another trip down memory lane, my favourite Foreigner track and I can only join in with the chorus in the photo pit. Foreigner generously give us photographers access to 6 songs in the pit so it is an intense hour to say the least.

Their walk on music was ‘My Generation’ by The Who and looking around this room, their generation are well represented – I’m surprised this is a stand up gig and there are plenty of older punters looking for a seat or at least a rail to support them. Everyone willing this last hurrah to be a suitable send off for a band and frontman that has been at the forefront of rock music since the mid 70’s. The 13 tracks on tonight’s setlist cannot represent a body of work that started with being the post Gillan frontman for Deep Purple and then crossed over from a British Blues institution into an Arena selling rock band all over the world.

This current Whitesnake line up is augmented by guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra, 2 x keyboards and vocals from the brilliant Dino Jelusick and Michel Luppi, backing vocals and thumping bass from the first female member of the band – Tanya O’Callaghan and the incredible drums from the rock stalwart that is Tommy Aldridge. Tommy looking remarkably fit and lean for a man of 71 and he delights us with a drum solo without using his sticks, yes the man can beat the crap out of his kit with only his bare hands – Legend.

As expected we get a set of hits, the surprise for me being ‘Slide It In’ it is slipped in at 2nd track and I haven’t heard that song in years bringing back plenty of memories of a much younger denim clad person with hair, sowing patches on his jeans, the jeans have long gone now, the hair went a lot earlier!

Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City’ – what a tune and the live version is so much better, the Whitesnake choir tonight doing the song justice and this enables some guitar histrionics from messrs Hoekstra and Beach while Coverdale takes a breather. He lets the youngsters have a shot of the spotlight and the catwalk – even another keytar solo, and then a triple guitarists solothon.

Lots of guitarist chemistry between Hoekstra and O’Callaghan as they almost wrestle by the speaker stack, Hoekstra winning in the guitar posing stakes in his gold trainers, whilst O’Callaghan brings much more glamour with a suckerpunch. ‘Fool For Your Loving’ is a clever example of how the band manage to cover the difficult vocal bits leaving Coverdale to get the crowd going, it all works really well and is accepted as the only way this is all really going to work. Lets face it, we are not expecting a pitch perfect performance, we want nostalgia, we want to remember these songs live one last time before we are all carted off to the nursing home, or consigned to our slippers and allotments. That is exactly what we got, ‘Is This Love’ and ‘Here I Go Again’ I believe David Coverdale broke down at part of that song, the emotions getting too strong. Final song was the epic ‘Still of the Night’ and no way was DC going to hit those highs – Jelusick is more than capable of filling in though.

There wasn’t really an encore, no nonsense of going off and coming back on again, it was a simple “Goodbye Newcastle, Drive carefully – Lets go back to where it all started”, and then a rambunctious run through of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’. Glenn Hughes can still sing it better, but David Coverdale has more presence on stage, one last throw of the mic stand above his head and they are gone.

We saw 3 superb Classic Rock bands tonight, and to think I could have watched a disposable Eurovision contest, instead we were treated to hours of musical nostalgic memories. As a bow out at the nearest gig to your birthtown – this was as perfect as it could be, ‘We Wish You Well’ Mr Coverdale, thanks for all the music.

Europe Setlist:

  • Walk the Earth

  • Rock the Night

  • Scream of Anger

  • Carrie

  • Days of Rock n Roll

  • Ready or Not

  • Superstitious

  • Cherokee

  • The Final Countdown

Foreigner Setlist:

  • Double Vision

  • Head Games

  • Cold as Ice

  • Dirty White Boy

  • Feels Like the First Time

  • Urgent

  • Juke Box Hero

  • Long Long Way From Home

  • I Want to Know What Love Is

  • Hot Blooded

Whitesnake Setlist:

  • Bad Boys

  • Slide It In

  • Love Ain’t No Stranger

  • Hey You (You Make Me Rock)

  • Slow an’ Easy

  • Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City

  • Fool For Your Loving

  • Crying in the Rain

  • Is This Love

  • Give Me All Your Love

  • Here I Go Again

  • Still of the Night

  • Burn

 

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