Whitesnake // Foreigner // Europe // Live Review // The Utilita Arena // Newcastle

After a stunningly beautiful day in the sun, we’ve got an exciting night ahead at the Whitesnake “The Farewell Tour” in Newcastle. It’s been an awful long time since I’ve been to an arena and I’m filled with a mix of excitement and nervousness as I see the massive queues waiting to get in. Once in the queues, the excitement takes over however as we join the crowd eager to get in for a night of classic 80s rock.

With 3 bands on the bill, it’s an early kickoff with only 45 minutes between the doors opening and Europe taking the stage. Looking around with 5 minutes to go it seems the queues have moved quickly as there’s a good size crowd ready for the show to start. As the lights drop and the crowd cheers, there’s a feeling of anticipation in the air that only comes from being in an arena and waiting for a band to come on stage. Europe comes out and begins playing “Walk the Earth” and the crowd cheers some more as the night really begins. As they head into “Rock The Night” the crowd begins to really get going as they sing and clap along to this classic track. As the set continues with hits such as “Scream of Anger ”, ”Carrie” and ”Superstitious” the whole band are on top form putting on a fantastic opening to the show. Frontman Joey Tempest shows he’s not just a great singer but also incredibly personable as he dedicates “Days of Rock n Roll” to the band’s manager whose birthday is today and gets the crowd to cheer for him. A Europe set wouldn’t be complete however without closing with “The Final Countdown” and a massive sing along!

After a short interval for the stage to change over and fans to grab a drink from the bar, it’s time for Foreigner to hit the stage. With both the drummer and keyboardist on a neon fronted platform, frontman Kelly Hanson kicks things off by leaving this as the band begin playing “Double Vision”. Hanson’s energy from this point never slows down as he dashes from one side of the stage to the other and makes full use of the small catwalk. Lead guitarist Bruce Watson also uses this catwalk any chance he gets as he struts to the very front during his solos. Foreigner certainly knows how to put on an entertaining show as they play to the crowd and keep them going. From Keytars to Cowbells and solos for every member of the band, there’s always something to watch and draw your eyes to. During “Cold As Ice ” not only is a second keyboard brought to the front of the stage but Hanson also jumps down to the barrier playing his tambourine and getting up close and personal with the fans. Of course, no setlist would be complete without the classic “Feels Like The First Time ” and “Juke Box Hero”. This tour includes something even more special however as for the final 3 songs, founding member Mick Jones joins the current lineup on stage for the encore. Jones is welcomed with a huge round of applause and appreciation and the band starts playing “Long Long Way From Home”. Jones continues to show his talent as a keyboard is brought out for him to play “I Want To Know What Love Is”. This classic Foreigner track gets the whole crowd singing along. There’s one last chance to sing along though as a guitar is brought back out and the band close the set with “Hot Blooded”. The band may have been around for 45 years and may not be the original line up but one thing for sure and that’s that they’ve certainly still got everything that makes Foreigner the band that we love.

As the lights dimmed one last time, it’s finally time for tonight’s headliners Whitesnake. The Who’s “My Generation” plays across the sound system before the band take to the stage and starts things off with “Bad Boys”. Seeing the full band on stage is quite the sight given the recent addition of a second keyboardist as now drummer Tommy Aldridge is flanked on either side while the strings take the front of the stage. This leaves the one and only David Coverdale to take centre stage and plenty of room to run around. Keyboardist Dino Jelusick isn’t the only new addition to the lineup, however, as Tanya O’Callaghan takes over the bass. As she bounces about and plays off against Joel Hoekstra she certainly draws your eye and stands tall as an incredible musician providing a powerful bass line. As the set plays through with hits such as “Slide It In” and “Hey You (You Make Me Rock)”, David Coverdale shows off what has made him such an amazing frontman for all these years. He commands the crowd’s attention when he wants it but also steps back to allow the rest of the band to take the spotlight and enjoy their moment on the stage. His interaction with the crowd is also a masterclass to watch as he not only singles people out but makes the whole room feel included and involved in the show. He also knows how to get a good singalong going as proven during “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” and “Fool for Your Lovin”. With the crowd having a great time, the night continues with guitar and drum solos as well as another impressive keytar solo too and even a keytar and guitar solo. The hits also keep playing as the band plays “Trouble Is Your Middle Name”, “Crying In The Rain” and “Is This Love”. You may have got to this point in reading and have thought well there are a couple of classics that haven’t been mentioned but fear not as the night hasn’t finished yet. There’s not long left but plenty of time for a massive singalong to “Give Me All Of Your Love”, “Here I Go Again” and “Still Of the Night”. At this point, the show is almost over however and there’s just one more chance to watch Whitesnake perform tonight with an encore of “Burn”.

If this is Farewell for Whitesnake touring then it’s been one hell of a send-off. Coverdale maybe 70 years old but he’s still a rockstar and Whitesnake will forever be one of the top bands to have seen live.

Review: Emmie Ellis

Photography: Mark Ellis

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