Whitesnake and Foreigner, with special guests Europe.
3Arena Dublin, 10th May 2022.
Rock legends Whitesnake kicked off their farewell tour in Dublin’s 3Arena on Tuesday, May 10th after being forced to delay it because of lockdowns. And given that they hadn’t been on the road for a couple of years they were determined to make it a night to remember so they invited along Foreigner and Europe to complete the line-up.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of late 20th-century rock can appreciate that this is quite the lineup and the demographic of the fans reflected this. Some were clearly Europe fans, others were diehard Foreigner fans and then there were, of course, those who worship at the altar of David Coverdale and Whitesnake. Given that he has been in the business for nearly 50 years now it is not surprising that some of his fans also were far more reserved than in his heyday. For every two people in leather and a metal tee there was one who looked like they’d wandered in by mistake from their office in the nearby IFSC (although kudos to the guy who came dressed as a kind of Steampunk/Bane hybrid and must have been absolutely melting in his leathers on what was a humid evening).
The fact that Europe kicked off at 6.45pm was a source of consternation for fans who were trying to get there post work. I heard many grumblings about such an early start time on a weeknight (welcome to my world). But still, people seemed eager to see them and even deserted their drinks in local bars to get there on time.
They came on bang on time and it was worth any inconvenience it caused. Opening with Rock The Night, which saw people rapidly scrambling to get into the venue when they heard how amazing they sounded, they proved they were more than their fluffy 80’s hits with an extremely accomplished and tight set that encompassed tracks from their decades-long career including the wonderful Superstition. But no bookie would have given you odds on their closing song which was of course their biggest hit The Final Countdown. They proved an amazing opening act who really set the crowd up nicely for the rest of the evening.
After a brief interlude Foreigner appeared on the stage – technically joint headliners with Whitesnake. While at the bar between acts I learned that they seemed to be the marmite of the bill. I overheard people either saying they couldn’t wait for them or that they couldn’t wait for them to be over. My friend was in the latter category. But a few minutes into their set you could see that even the haters were changing their minds. By the time they got to Cold As Ice, they had a capacity crowd. They took us through a catalogue of their hits including classics like Urgent and – of course – the worldwide smash I Want To Know What Love Is, which saw the 3Arena lit up with cell phone lights and the sound of people singing in unison. I must admit to not being particularly fond of that song but even I was quite moved to witness thousands of people singing along to it. And when they brought out Foreigner founder Mick Jones the crowd totally went wild. It was a very special moment.
But the reason many were there – and the icing on the cake – was of course Whitesnake. The legendary rock band fronted by David Coverdale. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him in the past and I can honestly say he is an absolute gent. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with him. Many people remember the 80s hair rock era but he has an amazing rock pedigree. He was the lead singer of Depp Purple for three years between 1973 and 1976 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with them. His solo work is acclaimed and award-winning and early Whitesnake such as Ain’t No Love (In the Heart of the City), which was of course included in the set, shows his blues influences, vocal chops and musicianship.
This gig served as a retrospective of his 50 odd years as the face and voice of Whitesnake. The lineups have changed but he is a constant. In fact, the current touring band includes the amazing Tanya O’Callaghan from Mullingar on bass guitar who rocked the venue and proudly brandished her Irish flag.
At the beginning of the night, he confessed to getting emotional about the fact that it was the first night of the farewell tour and a few fans in the audience were as emotional as he was. He postured and he preened and it looked completely appropriate and not contrived, because Coverdale is a rock star in the old and best sense of the word. He had some lifting in the vocal department from the band, but at 70 (and still looking great) that is to be expected. The crowd were singing along so loudly they didn’t even notice.
All in all the combination of these three powerhouses of rock proved a winner. They metaphorically lifted the roof off the venue. People who went in fans of one band left fans of all three (although my friend still resolutely refused to admit to liking Foreigner and even went so far as to buy Europe and Whitesnake merch but nothing from them).
My friend’s stubbornness aside this was a perfect marriage of bands coming together after two years of isolation. Every performance was perfect. Every band appealed to everyone there and the entire 3Arena was hopping. On the Luas home, I could hear people excitedly revisiting the catalogues of every band (also – headphones are a thing, just saying!)
On paper, this may have looked like a cheese-fest of 80s rockers but music fans thankfully knew better and it was an astonishingly great gig with amazing energy. It was the kind of night that will go down in legend. In a ‘were you there’ kind of way, and rightly so.