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WITH ELLA 'n' the band (malaysia's rock queen)


30th OCTOBER 2011



Best Years
Give Me All Your Love
Love Ain't No Stranger
Is This Love
Steal Your Heart Away
Guitar Duel (Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach)
Snake Dance
Can You Hear The Wind Blow
Love Will Set You Free
Drum Solo (Brian Tichy)
The Deeper The Love
Fool For Your Loving
Here I Go Again
Still Of The Night
Soldier of Fortune
Burn / Stormbringer



Ever wanted to do a rock tour of South East Asia? We did and we lived to tell the tale. Taking in two of Whitesnake’s Forevermore dates in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore - first stop- Malaysia!


As the intro tape blasts out ‘My Generation’ the band starts to take the stage, walking out one by one in the shadows except crown jester Reb Beech who runs right out on stage with his guitar then runs back into the shadows.  It’s typical of Beech – a great guitarist who always seems to be enjoying himself and who these days reminds me of a cross between a cheeky school boy and Keith Moon’s Tommy alter-ego ‘Uncle Ernie’…


Before this we had been treated to a set by Malaysia’s “First Lady of Rock’ Ella and her band (let me just say at this point in general, avoid anyone in rock music who gives themselves a pseudo-royal or presidential title). Well she’s a lovely looking girl, and the band seems tight enough but after a decent enough rocking workout by the band, who to be honest seem a little too glossy for my liking (foot up on the monitor because it’s comfortable and a cliché rather than because you want to rock). Ella’s entrance and the set that ensues is rather too much style over too little substance. Sure if you like the girlie pouting, elaborate hand gestures, dainty skipping and hair throwing rather than actually listening to some decent music, then be my guest. But it’s all rather too Asian girl-band for me… Needless to say a fair proportion of the crowd seems to disagree.


It’s taken us a while to get to the venue (though getting back later in the night will prove even more of an adventure). And Stadium Putra isn’t the original location for the gig. Putra is a large indoor stadium with a 16,000 capacity and is just one of several sports facilities in the National Sports Complex which includes the main National Stadium (100,000 capacity) which stands next to us and dwarfs us. The original venue Stadium Negara (which has hosted both Bon Jovi and Def Leppard recently) has a 10,000 capacity so we are expecting a big night. These are facilities that most cities would love to have.   


Getting into the venue too was funny there are four levels of tickets and four corresponding entrances all set next to each other, the security are pretty friendly but we get asked to walk through the ‘correct’ entrance a few feet away from where we entered – we do so and of course all of the entrances come out in exactly the same spot! The ‘Platinum Premium’ standing area (the most expensive tickets and a lot less than you would pay down-under for standard tickets) is on the main hall floor and we walk down what seems like a miles of corridor and stairs to get to the main floor. It’s a big stadium though the stage is positioned to probably eat up a good quarter of the capacity.


Back onstage Whitesnake storms into ‘Best Years’: it’s a great opener and we are a little surprised by the level of familiarity the crowd has with the song. It’s also great to see that a band of a certain age has so much faith in it’s new music, when a lot of Whitesnake’s contemporaries are prepared to dwell on ‘Greatest Hits’ sets from the 1980’s  (you know who you are). Indeed tonight we are treated to almost half a set of songs from the ‘Good to be Bad’ and ‘Forevermore’ albums.


‘Give Me All Your Love’ has the few of the crowd that were on the edges right in the thick of things, though the Malaysian politeness and the lack of alcohol at the venue sees a well-behaved crowd throughout. 


It’s a consummate performance by a band clearly in form and enjoying themselves and it’s not until ‘Is This Love’ that we notice that Dave’s voice isn’t quite all that it was. Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t affect the show and Dave can still hit the highs and get the screams it’s just that in the transition between styles that the voice cracks a little. Hey we all get old and to be honest it is the only point during the night that we even notice it.


The fine backing vocals from Beech and especially Aldrich throughout the set work beautifully throughout the show to assist Mr Coverdale and the vocals generally are awesome.


In a show with plenty of highlights it’s edifying to be able to say that some of the biggest high pints are the new songs, ‘Steal Your Heart Away’ and ‘Forevermore’ (A love song to us fans Dave tell us) go down beautifully with the crowd before Dave takes a break announcing “It’s time for some naughtiness… if you didn’t want that what are you doing at a Whitesnake concert?” It’s the queue for Doug and Reb to duke it out with an entertaining Guitar Duel that really manages to showcase both contrasting styles. 


Remember, says Dave “Be safe, be happy and don’t ever let anyone make you afraid, Forevermore”.


We get treated to a nice bluesy intro to ‘Love Will Set You Free’ which works even better live than on the album and then we are into what most people wish could be replaced by another song or two – the dreaded drum solo! Sure we all appreciate that it’s an opportunity for the rest of the band to take a break but really? Entertaining as Brian is tonight its just so hard to really enjoy a drum solo these days though to be fair it is the most entertaining we’ve heard in a while with Tichy reverting to playing with  his hands, with glowing sticks and even knives!


The band intros are funny enough and you can well imagine the always mischievous-looking Reb in the red corner being ‘the Prince of porno’ whilst the blue-corner’s Doug remains the ‘Lord of the Les Paul’.     


Coverdale is clearly loving the evening in the relatively cool indoor arena (it will be interesting to contrast this with the oppressive outdoor heat of Singapore). He never ceases to amuse me and for years I’ve been entertained by his endearing and (probably not) tongue in cheek ‘Colonial English Gentleman abroad’ demeanour.  He also has learnt a few words of Malay for the occasion and the crowd loves him for it, and Dave being Dave he uses it at every possible opportunity.


If any band could come home with a suitably wet sail it’s Whitesnake and I would challenge anyone to better the final stanza of ‘Fool For Your Loving’, ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Still of the Night’ before launching into a trio of Deep Purple encores including an a Capella ‘Soldier of Fortune’ and the sheer magnificence of Burn and Stormbringer. 


But all too soon it’s over and for a first visit to these shores we’re sure that Dave and co will want to come back soon. It was pretty hard to gauge the crowd tonight at a venue 16k out of town but it looks to be around the 4000 mark.


Outside there’s a veritable cornucopia of instant stalls set up selling bootleg t-shirts, sadly for us they don’t appear to do ‘large’ so we stick to the official merch, which at less than $30 a shirt is cheaper than the $50 the same shirts will be in Singapore. The promised bank of taxis doesn’t eventuate and so we get to brave Malaysia’s public transport at about 11.30 – apart from the difficulty in reading any of the signs we manage to transverse it all pretty well and get to a few kilometres out of the city in a place we’ve never been before as midnight strikes and everything closes. Thankfully it’s not too long for a taxi and a trip back to the hotel in the shadow of the beautiful Pertronas Twin Towers, where we bump into the end of a Chinese wedding.   


It’s a great night and a wonderful experience wrapped around the show. If you get the chance to see Whitesnake on the Forevermore tour – take it – they are in rare form. Here’s to Sir Dave and all that sail with him!



By Mark Diggins