Bernie Marsden / Ben Miles Rocks

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Bernie Marsden / Ben Miles Rocks - Real Time Live, Chesterfield (UK) - 12 September 2019

Support this evening came by way of some Heavy Blues from solo artist Ben Miles Rocks, touted as the "Loudest man in Rock". There were well over one hundred people in attendance by the time Miles took to the stage, and the fact that he managed to get most of them to shut up talking within one song was a testament to his ability to entertain. His set was engaging and included original material such as 'Only Pretty Boys Make Rock & Roll', 'Psycho Baby' and 'Bonedigger', and concluded with two covers, The Beatles' 'Come Together' and an unusual choice of Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer'.

The Real Time Live was packed to capacity by the time the main man Bernie Marsden took to the stage. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he not only had FM's Jim Kirkpatrick on guitar, but also four members of Hand Of Dimes (Neville MacDonald – lead vocals, Neil Garland – keyboards, Mark Maybry - bass, David Stephenson - drums), plus two female backing singers to share the stage with him. The evening was billed as "Snake Night" and it did not disappoint. As promised, we were treated to the whole of Whitesnake's seminal 1980 'Ready An' Willing' opus, plus half a dozen further classic 'Snake gems.

The atmosphere was electric as the opening bars of 'Fool For Your Loving' resonated through the venue. Having recently listened to this Whitesnake classic, I realised just how superb David Coverdale's vocals once were, and Nev MacDonald (ex-Skin) put in an impressive performance throughout the whole evening. 'Sweet Talker' was next up, the set being played in the running order of the album. The Whitesnake Choir was in full voice during 'Ready An' Willing'; "Sweet satisfaction" indeed.
Marsden's interaction with the audience was amiable and amusing as usual, and he looked to be really enjoying himself. I don't think the other band members could quite believe their great fortune to be playing a packed house with a true guitar legend. I'm not sure who enjoyed it most, them or the partisan audience.

Bernie was quick to point out that the Real Time Live venue was situated on "Marsden Street". He also thanked everyone for coming out this evening followed, before bidding everyone a fond "Good night!"

Fortunately he was going nowhere, and laughed when one of the punters loudly shouted, "'Ere's a song for you!"
Cue 'Carry Your Load' followed by 'Blindman', which is surely one of Coverdale's finest; once again MacDonald covered himself in glory with a breathtaking rendition.

Marsden told the story of how he returned from holiday to find out most of the 'Ready An' Willing' album had already been written. They then played him a new song which he so badly wanted to hate, but he had to admit it was one of the best he'd ever heard. Judging by the fantastic reaction, there is a large fan agreement to 'Ain't Gonna Cry No More'. 'Love Man', 'Black And Blue' and 'She's A Woman' concluded the main part of the set.

At this juncture Marsden said that he would normally leave the stage whilst the crowd would shout for more; however, as the dressing room was downstairs, once there he would not be climbing back up again. He inquired if anyone had seen the original 'Ready An' Willing' Tour? A few in the capacity crowd acknowledged in the affirmative. Alas, I was too young; however, it did not stop me listening to all those early Whitesnake albums, including the awesome 'Live In The Heart Of The City'. Sadly, by the time I did eventually get to see Whitesnake (Monsters Of Rock 1983) Marsden had left the band. So, this evening was a real treat.

The encore was further Whitesnake classics, starting with 'Come On', followed by 'Trouble' (the first song Marsden wrote with Coverdale) and the seminal 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' where the Whitesnake Choir took over once again. The whole night was packed with highlights, however arguably the loudest reaction was reserved for the splendid 'Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues', which was spine-chillingly awesome. Mind you, 'Here I Go Again' (the original version with the lyric, "Like a hobo...") got an equally positive response. The surprise inclusion of 'Is This Love' saw Marsden taking lead vocal duties. He quipped, "Don't know why I'm playing this one? Oh, I know why, it's a great song and the ladies like it."

A final reprise of 'Here I Go Again' brought a very special evening to a close. Fingers-crossed, Bernie Marsden decides to do this again, as it was definitely a winner.

Mark Donnelly

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