REVIEW: Whitesnake and Def Leppard at Glasgow SECC

June 17th saw Whitesnake and Def Leppard kick off a joint tour of the UK, and both bands rocked the Glasgow crowd in the city’s SECC venue.

After support band Black Stone Cherry warmed up the audience with nostalgic hard rock, Whitesnake took to the stage. Having seen Whitesnake play in two different venues in the city previously, I was not looking forward to the band struggling to contend with the massive conference centre’s bad acoustics. My fears were justified. Singer David Coverdale’s voice was not at all suited to venue. Familiar screeches of “Here’s a song for ya!” did not come over the PA with the usual clarity. Compared to previous shows in the Carling and Armadillo, this venue is the worst place to hear even the best of singers. That said, guitars and keyboards were loud and fantastic. However, for future reference, the SECC is not the place to see the hair metal band fronted by one of rock’s greatest blues singers.

Whitesnake’s set was short and sweet. Unlike previous outings, Chris Frazier’s drum solo was not as long and arduous as that of previous drummer Tommy Aldridge; and guitar solos were relevant and short. The band played a different set than that which I had seen twice on two separate tours (the set which was included on the band’s live DVD). To the concert’s detriment, there was no acapella singing by the ‘Ol Cov, but they played a good set. They have definitely upped their game since the last tour.

Of course there was an element of mysogyny – David Coverdale is a dirty old man, commenting on the “fantastic chests” of the front row. The SECC did have one good point for Coverdale – the big screens showing live footage of the band and vanity-stricken singer was a bonus. Coverdale was playing to camera as if Tawny Kitaen was still dancing on his hood.

Def Leppard came onstage very promptly after Whitesnake. The short waiting time for both bands was possibly the biggest surprise of the night, and certainly the most welcome!

Leppard’s reputation preceeds them: as legendary stadium rockers, it should come as no surprise that the band are more suited to a stadium sound than Whitesnake. The band played some of their huge hits with a great sound in the SECC.

Whitesnake would be far more suited more to a pub: this is evident even on the albums; particularly old songs with Jon Lord on piano such as “Black and Blue” and “Wine, Women and Song”.

Both bands definitely appreciated the Scottish fans. The city is renowned as a good host, and Joe Elliot announcing that his hometown of Sheffield would have to try hard to be a better audience than Glasgow certainly proved as much.

In all, a fantasic concert by two bands who are clearly at the top of their game more than 20 years after peaking. Both sets were far too short for bands with such vast back catalogues, but time was used professionally, packing as many songs in as possible and not having the crowd wait on primadonna musicians.

One big improvement could potentially make this tour unmissable – along with Coverdale’s acapella singing, some duets between bands would go down an absoulte treat – can you imagine David Coverdale’s masterful snake tounge wrapped around “Love Bites” or “Bringing On The Heartbreak”?

In other Glasgow-rock-fan related news, the best heavy metal bar in the city – The Crow Bar on Hope Street – has closed down. This fantastic and increasingly popular venue is now gone because the owners didn’t want to renew the lease.

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