Serpent rising in the East: a powerfully sharp set from a 2011 festival appearance balances future with the past.
“I feel better, stronger and more focused on life than I’ve ever been,” said David Coverdale to this scribe in 2008, shortly after the veteran’s band made a spectacular comeback from the verge of becoming a caricature of themselves. Since then, they’ve been going from strength to strength, this document from the Loud Park Festival in Saitama bearing witness to the singer and his coterie’s glorious cocksuredness. Produced as an unexpectedly good soundtrack to a video, released both separately and as part of a deluxe set, and sharing its title with a classic live record by Coverdale’s old collective, “Made In Japan” doesn’t include any of DEEP PURPLE’s songs yet generously gives a third of its span to the SNAKE’s fresh material.
Soulfully groovy pieces such as “Love Will Set You Free” sounding as swell as faves like the final metallic blues of “Still Of The Night” and the energy levels go into the red from the off, even though the lead voice on the thunderous roar of “Best Years” isn’t still fully unfurled in the way it is in the gentle reading of “Forevermore” that, on-stage, turns genuinely anthemic. There’s a lot of humor involved, too, well to the fore on the soundcheck fragments on a bonus disc with its collection of acoustic cuts, “Good To Be Bad” stripped to the bone among these, otherwise sex appeal of “Steal Your Heart Away” or “Give Me All Your Love Tonight” would have died on the vine before the public. The 60-year-old Coverdale pulls it out with an enviable aplomb, though, thanks both to the songs’ force and the players’ swagger, so Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach hardly need to engage in a guitar duel as they do, because their mighty interplay smokes on “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and “Fool For Your Loving” with its revitalized harmonies, the audience’s vocal response showing the immortal infectiousness of it all
“If it’s a WHITESNAKE album, the emphasis will be on songs that can potentially translate into a live environment,” stressed David Coverdale back on the band’s resurrection curve, and they keep on living up to that maxim of which this concert is the best illustration.