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Manchester Evening News Arena 20 June 2008

It was a pleasure to be treated to not one but two of rock's finest on Friday in Manchester, England when Def Leppard and Whitesnake played for a capacity crowd.

Supporting these two giants were Black Stone Cherry. This band hail from Edmonton, Kentucky and there's lots of southern influence in their sound aswell as other input too.

Taking to the stage to the wonderful sound of 'Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground' by Blind Willie Johnson, which reverberated around the arena in the most amazing way, the guys threw themselves headlong into a set of raw riffs and touching musicality which I don't think I have seen for some time and is completely refreshing.

Hits included 'Blind Man' from their new 'Folklore & Superstition' album and of course the fantastic 'Hell & High Water' from their self titled debut album.

Always one to champion great rock acts in all styles I'm completely behind this band and don't foresee that changing anytime soon if they carry on producing such gold plated studio music and exciting live sets.

Whitesnake were next up and, well...what can I say about Whitesnake that hasn't already been said a hundred times before.

Their show gets better every time I watch them and that's no mean feat for a band that has been rocking around the world for the last 30 years and is still brand new each time.

Starting with new track 'Best Years' and we had kicked off.

David Coverdale is the front man extraordinaire, a mover and shaker in the truest sense of the word. Still hitting the high...and the low notes and it all sounds very good indeed.

There's a new generation of Whitesnake fans out there and that was clearly evident tonight. The crowd hung on every note and word. Whitesnake, the band, played the part beautifully. 'Rock icons are us'. And that's exactly what they are.

The Whitesnake of today are looking and sounding good together. With a new drummer, Chris Frazier and I do have to say a word about Tim Drury on keyboards of whom I'm a big fan; collectively the guys are absolutely what we want Whitesnake to be through and through.

The hits are old faithfuls and have stood the test of time in no uncertain terms. 'Fool for Your Loving', 'Love Ain't No Stranger' and 'Is This Love' were all in there and they included a few tracks from their new album 'Good to Be Bad' including 'Can You Hear The Wind Blow', 'Lay Down Your Love' and 'A Fool In Love'.

And just to highlight a fantastic guitar duel between Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach with both guitarists showing their technical abilities too.

Along with some acoustic action on 'Ain't Gonna Cry No More' and then plugging back in for 'Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City' and the all time great 'Here I Go Again' before the boys came back for an encore of 'Still of the Night'.

This band are pound for pound still up there and yes...Coverdale's still got what it takes to melt the girls hearts. But what we wanted was rock, pure and unadulterated.

And Whitesnake, as always, were brimming with brilliance... and ready and willin.

So to follow that is a tall order for any band and it was up to Def Leppard to keep up the momentum. So such a huge task requires a huge entrance and Def Leppard, keen to show their national pride can only do that to the national anthem 'God Save The Queen'.

The guys started with a personal favourite, 'Rocket' and again as you would expect played an array of their greatest hits. 'Make Love like a Man', 'Armageddon It' and a slowy...'When Love and Hate Collide' I suppose had to be in there too.

The band themselves are a solid line up and appear to be completely in touch with the past, the present and moving with the times as well which is something not all bands are capable of. A superb backdrop of old and new footage underpinned the show and included images from way back when and a notable one to the memory of the Steve Clark, still very much missed by all.

Other tracks included the brilliant 'Rock On', following an awesome bass solo from Rick Savage, 'Bringin' on the Heartbreak', 'Hysteria', 'Photograph', 'Pour Some Sugar on Me' and of course the huge hit, 'Animal'. These coupled with new tracks from their new album 'Songs from the Sparkle Lounge' including an outstanding 'Cmon Cmon' and 'Nine Lives'.

'Rock of Ages' brought about the encore and finishing with 'Bad Actress' and 'Let's Get Rocked' the guys waved good bye to their faithful fans.

The Leppard show was and always is for me like a well oiled professional machine and there isn't anything wrong as such. The band play all the hits, they look and sound pretty fabulous, they're still making hit studio records today and it a damn good live show but as a seasoned Leppard concert goer, I'd love to see a tiny bit of disregard for professionalism, which as I've said is quite my eyes anyway.

Some spontaneity definitely wouldn't go amiss.

This Snake/Leppard package was the real deal and was as close to a Summit as most of us are likely to get.

Without trouble or hysteria, two massive forces in the world of rock, side by side, living it loud and sockin' it to us!

Review by Judith Reeves

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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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