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Thunder, Whitesnake, Journey - Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff - 26th May 2013 (Live Review)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 Written by Jon Stickler

Its not often you get the opportunity to see performances from three of the biggest names in stadium rock. Let alone all under the same roof. Sunday May 26th saw the welsh capital host over 4 hours of greatest hits from a triple-header of performances from Thunder, Whitesnake and Journey, all three bands raising the roof, each with over 35 years of boisterous rock anthems and Zippo lifting power ballads.

Despite an early 6:45pm start from Thunder, the band's faithful following has already generated an excited buzz around the arena with a crowd almost already at capacity. Anyone who has seen Danny Bowes and co perform prior to this tour - and many have judging by the vast array of aged tshirts on display - will tell you that live favourites such as 'Dirty Love', 'Higher Ground', 'Low Life in High Places', 'Love Walked In', 'The Devil Made Me Do It' and 'Backstreet Symphony' are perfect to get any party into full swing. 

An energetic Danny Bowes bounds from stage left to right, joking with the crowd and winding up an already rowdy Cardiff crowd. All of the aforementioned party-starters are included on the set list and the show signs-off with mission accomplished stamped all over it - the party is well and truly underway. 

Next up on our three-band bonanza is Whitesnake, arguable the group who stole tonight's show. Led by the irrepressible David Coverdale, who hip-thrusts his way through a set jammed with fist-pumping anthems, 'Snake are firing on all cylinders. 'Give Me All Your Love', 'Ready an' Willing', 'Can You Hear the Wind Blow', 'Don't Break My Heart Again' are all here, along with trademark guitar licks from Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach, thundering drums from the frenzied Tommy Aldridge and pounding bass from Michael Devin.

Amongst the crotch-grabbing, Coverdale's vocals still raise a few eyebrows and there are moments when the backing tape and band harmonies play a big part in the what's happening on stage, however, for a man of 61-years-old you cant help but raise a glass for the pure energy and charisma he brings to the performance.

A few nearby mutterings reveal that some fans are not happy with the dueling guitars from both Aldrich and Beach. Coming at about midway through the set, the solos give Coverdale some time to recuperate, do whatever he needs to do to keep the silver-tongued devil howling the only way he can. The short stop-gap also includes a ground-shaking drum masterclass from the legendary Tommy Aldridge, another 'Snake veteran who seems to have quaffed the same energy potion as his frontman.

For me personally, the break slows the gig's momentum a little. Since Whitesnake arrived on stage they've hurtled headlong through anthem after anthem, with the pace only slowing for the outstanding 'Is This Love'. Proceedings after Coverdale’s break don't seem to ever get back up to the same speed. Sure, Coverdale continues to parade around the stage, flirting with the front row, swinging his... microphone (ahem) and joking with the crowd. We also get rip-roaring delivery of ’Bad Boys', 'Children Of The Night' and 'Fool For Your Loving', however, it feels the performance has lost something it oozed within the first half hour. 

Winding down with signature tracks 'Here I Go Again' and ' Still Of The Night', its been a tale of two halves for Whitesnake. One outstanding first half, the second half just settling for brilliant.

During the short break before Journey, tired voices and tired legs appear to take their toll on the crowd. Whether it was just the long evening or just a lot of people wanting to hit the pub early, by the time Journey hit the stage at 9.45pm its noticeable that large sections of the crowd have called it a night. 

With a performance laced with sound issues, Journey deliver a set that, in my opinion, shouldn't have followed Whitesnake. Perhaps I'm a little bias here but I just felt deflated about things. The party had the wind punched out of it by Coverdale and co, with Journey left to struggle on wheezing. Journey’s faithful are enjoying every second of things and frontman Arnel Pineda does everything in his power to maintain an upbeat feeling about the show. It just feels a little too late.

I really had forgotten that Journey had so many hits. All of the fan favourites are pulled out of the hat; 'Only The Young', 'Stone In Love', 'Open Arms'. Pineda does an outstanding job on vocals too, however, Neil Schon's guitar often dominates leaving the amps struggling to cope.

We revisit the party atmosphere as 'Wheel In The Sky' and 'Any Way You Want It' are played out, however, it all feels like the moment has passed and I get the impression that a lot of the remaining crowd are just waiting it out for THAT anthem. You've guessed it, 'Dont Stop Believin''. A fitting way to end a show brought to you by three legendary outfits of the rock world.

Journey, Whitesnake and Thunder perform at Birmingham's LG Arena tonight, before wrapping up the tour with a huge show at London's Wembley Arena tomorrow.

Journey, Whitesnake and Thunder UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Tue May 28th 2013 - BIRMINGHAM LG Arena
Wed May 29th 2013 - LONDON Wembley Arena

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