Whitesnake bid Dublin Farewell on a night bulging with rock anthems.
If anything was to be learned from Status Quo’s 1984 End Of The Road Tour, it’s that these often ridiculous announcements are to be taken with a very generous pinch of salt. The fact that Quo are still rockin’ all over the world 38 years later tells you all you need to know.
But the ageing process must be taken into account, and the fact that David Coverdale is seven decades on this planet puts you in no doubt that he’s serious about putting his snake out to pasture.
Whitesnake, Foreigner, Europe – 3Arena, Dublin – 10 May 2022
Words: Brian Boyle
Photography: Olga Kuzmenko
With touring ground to a halt in March 2020 due to surgery for a bilateral inguinal hernia and then the red card of the Covid pandemic, the Yorkshireman should really be enjoying his pension now. But he was never going to just fizzle out, and The Farewell Tour is as it states.
And what better way to start the long goodbye than with your Irish swansong on the north side of Dublin. Just for an extra bit of fat, he’s brought along jukebox heroes Foreigner and Swedish giants Europe. So, in other words, tonight was an open invitation to a mass orgy of rock anthems.
A 6.45 pm start on a Tuesday evening is an absolute wrench of a stage time. But if you are going to race out of work and leg it down the Dublin Docklands to catch any band, Europe are the one. With just the 45 minutes to sell their wares, there were never going to be any liberties taken with the setlist. They leapt into action with a stomping Walk The Earth before igniting the atmosphere with a romping Rock The Night.
The ever-youthful Joey Tempest didn’t let the dinnertime slot or limited lighting hamper his enthusiasm, and the arena was filling up nicely as he made everyone’s knees weak with a stirring Carrie.
Superstitious and Cherokee were surprisingly lost on a few people, but those inside the fence absolutely revelled in them. Even though they’re above being a guinea pig support act these days, you always fear the worst as far as sound goes, but thankfully it was remarkably good, and that served them well as they caused a mini tremor with The Final Countdown.
They may have been a wee bit out of their comfort zone, but Europe were absolutely textbook tonight.
To label Foreigner a glorified tribute act is probably sticking the knife in a bit, but with just the part-time Mick Jones being the only remaining original member, some grumble, ‘what’s the point?’. And with them being Jones-less for most of the set, there is a slight feeling of being short-changed. But after the last two and a bit gigless years, this didn’t appear an issue for anyone tonight.
Foreigner were just on it from start to finish, and the Dubliners were with them every step of the way. Opening hatrick of Double Vision, Head Games and Cold As Ice had the crowd in raptures early doors, then Dirty White Boy kept the momentum pulsing.
Despite being their yoodler for 17 years now, to many of the hardcore Foreigner faithful, Kelly Hansen is still persona non grata. But there were no knives out tonight as the livewire vocalist patrolled the stage like a Steven Tyler understudy and delighted the crowd by revealing his mother is from Dublin and then pulling from his back pocket an Irish passport.
Reminding us that the Foreigner debut album is approaching its 45th birthday, Feels Like The First Time knocked years off itself and invigorated thousands of middle-agers.
Keyboard player Michael Bluestein stepped out front and showed everyone what Santa brought him with a stunning Keytar solo on Urgent, while an extended and energetic Juke Box Hero left the crowd breathless before they were treated to the highlight of the evening.
With the sets clock ticking, Hansen finally welcomed the band’s leader, founder, and songwriter Mick Jones to a deserved standing ovation.
Although it did seem like he was there to justify the use of the Foreigner name, it was still a welcome sight to see him visibly moved as mobile phone torches lit up the arena during an uplifting I Want To Know What Love Is.
And he’s the only guy you want to see stabbing out the opening riff to Hot Blooded, which closed their classics filled night with an almighty bang. A flawless display from an anthem making institution.
As stage entrances go, Whitesnake’s was fairly low key. As the final notes of The Who’s My Generation emptied out of the PA, Coverdale and his troops strolled on meaning business and fired up their farewell with Bad Boys.
Having not graced a stage in over two years, the main man donning a black shirt with Irish tricolour appeared to just take it all in his stride, stoking up the crowd with a rousing Slide It In.
For a man of his years, he looks in fine fettle. So with two darkly lit screens on either side of the stage and a giant one in the centre only showing band artwork, the crowd were done out of a bit more production because of needless vanity, and the press photographers only being allowed shoot from orbit was just taking the piss.
But that didn’t deter from the amount of love in the room for the legendary frontman. And while the always enjoyable Love Ain’t No Stranger sounded like it was running on fumes, the Whitesnake choir still wrapped their vocal cords around every word.
Staunch fans of the pre-MTV Snake got a classic trio of Slow an’ Easy, Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City and Fool For Your Loving, three memorable nods to their much-loved t-shirt and denim era.
At the best of times, band introductions are word for word the very same every night. But this one was a little different because manning the bass was Ireland’s very own Tanya O’Callaghan. Making a debut appearance for Whitesnake anywhere is a daunting prospect, but in front of your own people is a different matter altogether.
Needless to say, the former Steven Adler, Dee Snider and Riverdance bassist knocked the sliotar out of the building all night, and the roar that accompanied her introduction probably reverberated 50 miles to her native Mullingar, which was proudly displayed on the back of her bass.
Her partner in the engine room, the one and only Tommy Aldridge, got a pretty decent clattering of the palms too, after what can only be described as a ‘bleedin mental’ drum solo, which half was performed with just his world-renowned bare hands.
For the majority, the home straight of the set was like a magical ride in a DeLorean back to the decadent days of ’80s rock, and Whitesnake’s contribution to that period was one of the most prominent. And if you’re of a certain vintage, there’s a high chance you have done the horizontal hokey cokey after a dancefloor encounter to Is This Love, and thirty-five years on, it still seductively slithers up and down your spine.
The permanently smiling Joel Hoekstra and his virtuosic partner Reb Beach deserve to be remembered as one of Whitesnake’s greatest guitar duos, and on the galloping Give Me All Your Love, their chemistry rubbed off on the buoyant crowd.
Then the big one, the song that launched a thousand bonnet burns. If you spent your mid to late teens on a diet of MTV hair anthems, the memory of the late Tawny Kitaen sliding down Coverdale’s pristinely white Jaguar in the video to Here I Go Again most likely never left you. Heck, you may have even persuaded your girlfriend to do similar down the bonnet of your Dad’s rusty Ford Cortina.
And once those opening keyboard tones started to take flight, and his Lordship summoned the crowd to ‘make some fuckin noise’, thousands basqued in nostalgic bliss, roaring one of music’s biggest choruses till their collective throats were black and blue.
There are no pants tight enough anymore to make Coverdale reach the demanding notes of Still Of The Night, hence the recruitment of Croatian Dino Jelusick, who pitches in on keyboards and nut busting high notes.
But tonight wasn’t about nitpicking, more about relishing this iconic figure giving all he has on one of the greatest songs of his career.
It was an emotional and thrilling evening in Dublin, and what a fantastic sight it was to see Tanya O’Callaghan draped in the Irish flag next to a man who has given so much joy to millions.
Fifty years of great music, it’s been a pleasure, Sir, farewell.
Whitesnake Set List:
Bad Boys / Children of the Night
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
Trouble Is Your Middle Name
Crying in the Rain
Is This Love
Give Me All Your Love
Here I Go Again
Still of the Night
Take Me with You
Foreigner Set list:
Cold as Ice
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like the First Time
Juke Box Hero
Long, Long Way From Home (With Mick Jones)
I Want to Know What Love Is (With Mick Jones)
Hot Blooded (With Mick Jones)
Europe Set List :
Walk The Earth
Rock the Night
Scream of Anger
Hole in My Pocket
Ready or Not
The Final Countdown