With the shows early start time, I just managed to make it into the Arena in time for the opening chords of ‘Dirty Love’. Like a lot of the crowd, the early start time had slightly caught me out having to get their straight from work. The arena filled quickly and it was good to see a decent crowd for the Londoners Thunder, although it was bit quiet at first, Danny did his best to get the crowd going and by the end of the set the crowd were well and truly warmed up.

One of the best things about Thunder’s short but thoroughly enjoyable set, was the fact they weren’t here to promote anything. No new album, just 45 minutes of classic British rock. Just a look at the setlist below shows how many good songs Thunder wrote and leaves me thinking how they never got massive, as everyone here seems to know the songs and have enjoyed their set, and at other shows as well it sounded like a similar reaction.

Whitesnake were up next and the one thing that’s always gets me about Whitesnake is David Coverdale. For a man who is only a few years away from a bus pass, he put most frontmen half his age to shame. From the moment he take the stage to the moment he leaves, he is in charge of the show and the now packed arena was ready to do as they were told. The well spoken singer spent time between songs buttering up the crowd with lines such as “Its always a pleasure to play for your amazingly charming fucking selves” and “Manchester you look so good tonight, here’s a song from ‘Slide It In'”. Even when he disappeared offstage during solos and the spectacular guitar duel between Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach, from our vantage point he could still be seen throwing shapes and performing, even though he wasn’t centre stage. The man is a bona fide rock legend and this performance shows that Whitesnake are still at the top of their game. The new songs from recent album “Forevermore” slotted in nicely amongst a set that showed how important this band have been over the last 35 years.

There was a touching moment mid set was the inclusion of ‘Gambler’ which was dedicated to Mel Galley, Cozy Powell and John Lord, played against the backdrop which changed to show their faces. And also, when founding member Bernie Marsden returned for a couple of Whitesnake classics in ‘Fool For Your Loving’’ and ‘Here I Go Again’ the end of the set. After the show I tweeted that it may be wise to take some precautions if going to see any of the remaining dates as on this form, Coverdale could have easily have impregnated half of the crowd during their set. They just don’t make rock stars like this anymore, lets hope there are more tours in the future.

Journey were the one band I knew least about. I had heard the classics, but had never really fully explored their back catalogue. I’d only seen them once before, when they played a much shorter late afternoon set at Download a few years back before the resurrection of ‘Don’t Stop Believing‘ due to its use in a hit TV show. Vocalist Arnel Pineda (found during a search on Youtube some years ago covering Journey songs) has fitted well into the role and now his slight frame looks every inch the rock star. He never stops moving throughout their set and tries to bring the crowd into the show at every opportunity.

For me this one one of those times that you listen to a band properly and hear songs you have known for years, but didn’t realise who actually sung them. Again, as with Whitesnake, the newer songs slotted into the set really well and the crowd really got behind them as much as the older material. The band kept the flow going during the set and the pace never really dipped during the evening at all. A confetti shower during ‘…Believing’ at the end of the set signaled the end of an excellent night at the Arena. Easily one of the better shows I have seen their, and will take a lot to top that in any future visits.

Thunder setlist:
Dirty Love – River Of Pain – Higher Ground – Low Life In High Places – Backstreet Symphony – The Devil Made Me Do It – Love Walked In – I Love You More Than Rock n Roll

Whitesnake setlist:
Give Me All Your Love – Ready an’Willing – Can You Hear The Wind Blow – Don’t Break My Heart Again – Is This Love – Gambler – Love Will Set You Free – Guitar Duel – Steal Your Heart Away – Forevermore – Best Years – Bad Boys / Children Of The Night – Fool For Your Loving – Here I Go Again – Still Of The Night

Journey setlist:
Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) – Any Way You Want It – Ask The Lonely – Only The Young – Stone In Love – Keep On Runnin’ – Edge Of The Blade – Lights – Open Arms – One More – Dead Or Alive – Escape – Wheel In The Sky – Be Good To Yourself – Faithfully – Don’t Stop Believin’

Photos taken by Sakura

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