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Liverpool Echo Arena 15 July 2008

The final three-date leg of the Whitesnake/Def Leppard UK tour saw Thunder opening instead of Black Stone Cherry, and excellent they were too.

Danny Bowes works the crowd well as the band rejuvenate several classics, the best of which was 'Love Walked In'. The inclusion of 'Gimme Some Lovin' was a surprise, with Ben Matthews on keyboards. Thunder had the best sound mix of the evening too.

Whitesnake are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year and 'Good to Be Bad' marks a return to form. Perhaps not quite '1987' but certainly a worthy successor.

Starting with 'Best Years', and with 'Lay Down Your Love' and 'Can You Hear the Wind Blow', the new tracks do sit well against the band classics and Reb Beach and Doug Aldridge (who co-wrote the new album with Coverdale) ooze guitar class. Credit too to keyboards player Timothy Aldridge who also provides vocal harmonies.

Coverdale of course commands his audience and his vocals were in better shape than the last time I saw the band when it seemed the crowd sang more than he did. And he still gets thrown Yorkshire Tea.

Whitesnake's set was well paced, cranking up finally with 'Ain't No Love In the Heart of the City', 'Gimme All Your Love Tonight' and 'Here I Go Again' before a mighty version of 'Still Of The Night' ended their set.

There is a frightening realisation during this gig: what happens when these bands put away their bare torsos and stop touring? Arguably, all are approaching their twilight years with the lead principals touching (or having touched) the big 5-0.

Looking around the 8000 + crowd in Liverpool's impressive new arena, there was a very healthy mix of young and old - there is obviously a healthy demand for this sort of pageant. It would be fair to say a whole generation will grow up on the back of Dad or Mum's record collection and they too want to revel in some of rock's greater excesses of the past thirty years.

This bill was a fair summation of eighties melodic rock, but born of an age when there was record label budget and prime time TV exposure via MTV. The question remains: in the internet age who will replace our eighties heroes?

Def Leppard came on stage to a back projected showreel of their former glories from 1979 onwards and proceeded to crank up the proceedings with 'Animal', 'Make Love Like A Man' and new tracks 'C'Mon C'Mon' and 'Nine Lives' from the well received Sparkle Lounge album.

There was very little let up in Leppard's patented brand of arena rock and - save for an acoustic guitar interlude led by Joe Elliot himself - there was little in the mid-tempo department. (No 'Love Bites' or 'White Lightning' for example). To the uninitiated, a couple of the songs sounded very similar.

But those gripes aside, there was no denying their stage presence and for a while we could revel in a decade that spawned such gems as 'Pyromania' and 'Hysteria', picture discs, CD single bonuses, and expansive cover art.

The Lep's parting shot 'Let's Get Rocked' said it all really. Make the most of it while you can.

Review by David Randall

Best of 2008

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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