After 3 electric gigs in 7 days, the next 4 of this tour by Bernie Marsden would be acoustic affairs, the first of which was at the Crown Hotel in Nantwich aided by guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick. On entering the venue I was a bit confused as it was in a ballroom with 2 huge chandeliers hanging over the audience, most of whom were dressed a lot more conservatively than me in my 35yr old denim cut off. A selection of guitars and 2 chairs on a slightly raised stage confirmed I was in the right room though.
The double neck Gibson that was also there fuelled my expectations that maybe ‘Aint Gonna Cry No More’ would be played and later on my hunch was thankfully correct. Both guitarists took to their seats with Bernie asking “What are all these people doing in Jim’s front room?”. Even though this was a mainly acoustic gig, the atmosphere was electric both on and off the stage as they opened with ‘Linin’ Track’, a Leadbelly cover and also opening track on Bernie’s latest studio album Shine. Featuring some wailing harmonica from Jim it was preceded by an hilarious anecdote from Bernie, one of many throughout the show. ‘Till The Day I Die’ was the first of 9 Whitesnake tracks played, showing that Bernie has a fine singing voice.
‘Wedding Day’, another track from Shine featured raised the tempo. Bernie went on to tell of when he started working with Jim, saying that he “Had guitar strings older than Jim” at the time. A poignant tale about Rory Gallagher lead into a beautiful cover of ‘Wheels Within Wheels’. ‘Trouble’, one of my favourite Whitesnake songs contained chilling guitar interplay between Bernie and Jim with a spoken intro of how David Coverdale came to record the vocals for the version on Shine. More inspired covers continued with Peter Green’s ‘World Keeps On Turning’ and a raucous take of Big Bill Broonzy’s ‘Kings Of The Highway’ featuring some highly charged slide guitar from Jim.
Bernie then announced it was the end of the first set, that he would be signing merchandise at the back of the venue and that he had the names and addresses from the venue of all those here who had not bought anything so far. Cue much laughter! The second set began with Bernie bringing out his double neck Gibson and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and eyes welled up as the opening chords of ‘Ain’t Gonna Cry No More’ rang out. My favourite Whitesnake song never sounded so powerful until this evening. This guitar stayed for one more song, a haunting cover of ‘Dragonfly’ written by ex Fleetwood Mac guitarist Danny Kirwan. The audience were now in full voice, adding vocals to an emotional ‘Ain’t No Love In The City’ with Bernie telling how he met Bobby Bland, the songs composer backstage at a Van Morrison show with Bobby telling Bernie “You made a shitload of money more out of that song than I ever did”.
We were in fine voice again for a soothing ‘Is This Love?’ and a much older Whitesnake classic ‘The Time Is Right For Love’, then treated to a foot stomping cover of Eric Clapton’s ‘Crossroads’ with Jim once again taking lead vocal and delivering fast slide guitar licks. The show ended all too soon with a trio of Whitesnake classics. A gentle ‘We Wish You Well’ lead into ‘Here I Go Again’ which Bernie stopped short to tell about the recording of the number with the late Jon Lord before finishing the song. A very emotional moment to say the least and I saw a few tears being wiped away in the crowd. An uptempo ‘Fool For Your Loving’ got us back in fine voice to end an unforgettable night of music and storytelling.
Till The Day I Die.
Wheels Within Wheels.
World Keeps On Turning.
Kings Of The Highway.
Ain’t Gonna Cry No More.
Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City.
Is This Love?
The Time Is Right For Love.
We Wish You Well.
Here I Go Again.
Fool For Your Loving.
Thank you to Scott Towns for the photo and to Jim Kirkpatrick for arranging my interview with Bernie Marsden.