Def Leppard / Whitesnake / Black Star Riders Live at the SSE Hydro

At CB HQ, it was safe to say we were delighted when the email came through confirming we’d been given a photo pass for Black Star Riders, Whitesnake and Def Leppard’s upcoming gig at The SECC Hydro, a nice bonus, especially as we’d already bought tickets for the last big tour of the year. This was always going to be something a bit special, with two legendary monsters of rock on the bill and the added bonus of Ricky Warrick and Black Star Riders kicking the evening off, what was there not to look forward to.

BlackStarRiders-CackBlabbath-17We do like the Hydro here at CB, and heading through another chilly night in Glasgow, it was great to see the futuristic, illuminated arena waiting to greet us.

First up, and on rather early in the evening, where Black Star Riders. It was amazing to the sheer mass of bodies that had came out in their finest denim and leather packed down at the barrier to catch Ricky and the gang. Judging by the crowd reaction as they blasted straight into All Hell Breaks Loose, one could be easily fooled into thinking they where headliners. The Thin Lizzy connection with BSR is well known and the influences are there for all to see. The thing is, that gives them a great selection of bona-fide classics to call on, in addition to their own damn fine material. Jailbreak went down particularly well and had the merry Glasgow crowd fired up as we were treated to an all-too-short greatest hits set.

BlackStarRiders-CackBlabbath-13We couldn’t help but notice on Ricky’s new hair cut though. It reminded me of a young Robbie Williams, circa 1990. But nope, hair style aside there’s no way you can mistake those vocals as he leads the band through a flawless opening performance for the night, The Killer Instinct has taken on new life live and, well, you can’t go far wrong with the all time classic Whiskey In The Jar closing the set.

Cue massive cheers and whistles, a lot of happy faces. Yip, so far, so good. And tonight was only gonna get better.

After a brief trip to the bar we regrouped in the main arena for the second band of the evening. The lights went down, silence fell over the crowd…. “I can see big hair” I overheard a young lad say. That ould only mean one thing…. We’re in the presence of rock royalty, in the company of a legend, it’s time to get reacquainted with Mr David Coverdale.

Spot of Whitesnake anyone?

Ahhh, this takes me back and I stood there thinking to myself I (like a million others) used to dance about in my bedroom, air grabbing and messing my hair up, using the obligatory hair brush as a microphone, giving it my all to Here I Go Again. Well fast forward a good few years and I am stood at the barrier an arms reach away from the very chappy that is responsible for my love of hair metal, power ballads and classic rock in general.

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Anyway, fan gal moment over…. and we’re straight into Burn, and what a way to kick things off. Whitesnake’s new album Purple is Coverdale’s tribute to his time with Deep Purple. We really like the album but hearing Burn live, reworked to suit his now heavily seasoned and aged voice, well wow… just wow. Although Coverdale is still easily recognisable from his glory days, his voice has changed and rather than try to hit the high notes of yore the songs have been reworked to fit his voice as it is now, and the result is brilliant.

Whitesnake-CackBlabbath-9Strutting about with his bandmates, working the runway like a model, it was a you had to be there moment. Whitesnake blasted out hit after hit from their extensive back catalogue, with a generous helping of their new album material.

Mind you, the new album stuff is older than their old stuff.

Coverdale shared several reflective moments, but it was touching to hear him thank the “people that got him started in the first place”, Deep Purple. He showed he’s lost none of the bluesy influences from those early days too, with a stunning Soldier Of Fortune bringing the tempo, but not the intensity, down a notch. The band looked as good as they sounded, and it’s nice to see Coverdale’s collection of women’s underwear is still growing from the bras folk throw on stage.

Whitesnake-CackBlabbath-6Now usually a drum solo is the time to head to the bar, but Tommy Aldridge kept the whole place captivated. It was fairly standard “drum legend” stuff, and then he threw his sticks into the crowd and played the second half of the solo with his bare hands.

Another one of those “wow, did you see that” things that this gig was so full of.

He’s in his 60s for feck’s sake

It was the Whitesnake classics that, unsurprisingly, received the biggest reaction. Audience participation doesn’t get much bigger that watching Whitesnake perform Is This Love along with a tens of thousands strong  choir… that’s us lot, the crowd.

Tonight was a night for the, erm, more mature rock’n’roll audience, most of whom probably had as much hair as Coverdale does now in their younger days. With a triumphant Still Of The Night Whitesnake’s time came to an end and clearly rather overwhelmed David Coverdale and his “Snake Brothers” took a well earned bow.

Wow….just wow!

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It took a bit of time for the cheering and clapping to die down before the lights came back up as the Glasgow crowd optimistically hoped for an encore but it was not to be. So, just to get you up to speed, Black Star Riders got us in the party mood, Whitesnake nearly blew the roof off the Hydro with their mammoth set AND we’ve still got Sheffield’s finest, Def Leppard to go.

Question is, how on earth can they top the evening off?

DefLepprd-CackBlabbath-16The imminent arrival of Def Leppard is preceded by a huge banner with their logo on covering the front of the stage. The place is buzzing and then… the banner disappears off up into the rigging and it’s showtime! First thing I noticed, as I’m sure many others did, was the iconic Phil Collen appeared to have forgotten his shirt, and fallen in a vat of baby oil before coming on stage.  Joe Elliot is looking as good as ever too, whatever the secret of eternal youth is Def Leppard must be pretty close to finding it. One of the biggest cheers was for the Rick Allen cam on the big screens. There’s a lot of love for Rick in the Hydro, both in the audience and on stage, and the drummer is looking like he was happier than a pig in shit to be here performing.

But then, doesn’t he always.

DefLepprd-CackBlabbath-24The band make great use of the runway out into the crowd, with Rick Savage strutting his stuff there, when he wasn’t rolling out iconic bass lines from a platform behind the drum riser. If anyone could ever forget what an array of classic tunes Def Leppard have written, tonight is a brilliant reminder as hit after hit blasts out in an endless playlist of Leppard’s finest tunes. The setlist was put together perfectly, with each track gathering more and more momentum and energy from the crowd.  Love And Hate Collide and Hysteria gave lovers  a chance for a good ol smooch and a slow-ish dance before things picked up again. Although we’d taken up position a bit back from the barrier (so we could find each other when the tog came out the photo pit) I appear to have picked the jolliest bunch to stand beside. During Pour Some Sugar On Me and Rocket the less inhibited of the group began to do the Scottish dancing around handbag thing.

DefLepprd-CackBlabbath-18Cringey or highly entertaining, depending on your point of view, but who cared.  Legends of rock on stage and here in the crowd it’s party central. That’s when you know people are truly in the moment.

Joe Elliot went off stage for a bit, as you do when you’re rock elite, and while he was gone we were treated to the second astounding drum solo of the evening. The cheers rang out as Rick Allen battered the crap out of his kit while Rick Savage stood up on the drum riser laying down the accompanying bass groove.

Superb.

Moments later Joe struts back on stage wearing a cool steampunk top hat and toting an acoustic guitar. He addressed his adoring fans asking “Would you like to be in the band for the next 4 minutes? You can and tomorrow tell everyone you were in Def Leppard”. A few strings were plucked and… yip just as I thought… the timeless classic Two Steps Behind. I swear the whole room was swaying side to side, singing along. This was a proper heartfelt moment, with my jolly gig mates all hugging one another and more than one veteran gig goer getting something in their eye. There is Definitely so much love in this room tonight, band for the fans, fans for the band and everyone for Rick Allen.

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Of course it’s not proper Def Leppard gig until they’ve played photograph and they saved that gem for last. We all knew it was the last encore, the last chance for a dance and so the place erupted. After they’d finished Joe looked around the cavernous confines of the Hydro, asking “Do you like this place? We love it. It’s the biggest place we’ve played in ages… and look at all the people” before making us a promise

DefLepprd-CackBlabbath-6“See you next time, and there WILL be a next time…”

“Just do us a favour…”

“Don’t forget us and we won’t forget you!”

And that was that. End of the evening. Totally speechless. Team CB can rarely agree on what you would class as the gig of the year but for the two of us who were there this was it. Whether it was from the photo pit, or down at the barrier, or being in the middle with the jolly dancers….. This was epic!

This was one of those “roll back the years” gigs. Both Whitesnake and Def Leppard brought their A game to Glasgow and both were just about as good as we’ve ever seen them, a brilliant effort from both parties. Of course let’s not forget Black Star Riders, as good as we’ve ever seen them and a brilliant way to get things warmed up. Hopefully we’ll see them back on a headline tour of their own soon.

From a hair metal and classic rockers point of view this was bliss, sheer perfection. Nobody air grabs and works his hair like Coverdale and Joe Elliot still hits the notes I didn’t think were humanly possible.

In any other company Black Star Riders could have been the band of the day.

In any other company Def Leppard should have been band of the day.

But oh my lord Whitesnake, how f’kin good were Whitesnake?? How the HELL can David Coverdale still deliver like that.

Gig of the year then ?? Oh I think so.

Happy Days.