When snakes shed their skin thereby allowing for further growth, it’s not that dissimilar to founding band members departing from venerable rock bands, to stretch out in different directions.

As a stalwart of the original and, thereafter, some of the best line up’s of Whitesnake, Bernie Marsden was joined by his fellow charmer Neil Murray to play a stinging show of blues, and Whitesnake classics, at Blues Week held at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, London.

Before the band could begin the evening’s main entertainment, they first had to navigate their way through the sardine-packed crowd from the dressing room adjacent to the stage. Finally positioned onstage with his signature PRS SE guitar to hand and Marshall Astoria amp behind him, Marsden pulled the ripcord to a power blues-boogie riff. Then with a song title that sounds like a buffed-up Saturday evening TV dance show, the sweet Santana-esque tones of “Strictly Latino” enabled Marsden to fully display his jazz-rock chops.

To the unbridled joy of the many who rightly remain charmed by Whitesnake classics, Marsden didn’t disappoint as both he and ex Magnum drummer Mickey Barker chugged out the riff to “Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues”. What followed was a searingly raunchy blast from the past. In fact, Marsden’s boyish and emotive voice gave this slab of classic British blues-rock a more meaningful and personal dimension. 

Acclaimed blues guitarist Danny Bryant then joined the fretboard frontline with his blue Strat knocking out sweet licks and tones; much to the visible admiration of Marsden.

As a storytelling musician, Marsden prefaced “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City” recounting a tale about meeting songwriter Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland. As a humble and respectful Marsden met the great man Bland quipped “Your that guy from the Whitesnakes” before jokingly adding “You lot made more money from that song than me!”

Even more respect was paid to blues legends with the bottomless swampy riff of “Oh Well”. The vintage spirit of Peter Green will always live on as long as artists of the calibre of Bernie Marsden, and his top drawer cohorts, play this song with such respectful gusto. Similarly, with a fiery take on Freddie King’s “Going Down” bringing a turbocharged finale to the main set.

A 12 string acoustic encore of The Beatles “From Me To You” was a perfect sign off, as the sated and dedicated audience wished him well with loud and approving cheers. 

Afterwards, as a long line of the evening’s punters queued for a signed copy of Bernie’s autobiography, NRR managed to have a few words with Marsden who mentioned that he has at least three albums worth of material already recorded. One of which is with Nathan James from their Abbey Road sessions together. 

With 2018 being forty years since the formation of the ‘Snake – this reviewers first gig being Whitesnake at Liverpool Empire 1978 – one can only hope that Marsden, Murray, Moody and a certain DC might, just might have a surprise or two up their sleeves?

Bernie Marsden
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Event Date: 18-Jan-2018

About The Author

I began my career in journalism at the now defunct, pre-digital Smash Hits magazine, which was situated in London's Carnaby Street. After learning the ropes, I washed up at Vox Magazine, essentially the NME'S monthly magazine, as the Internet arrived into our lives. Thereon, I eventually graduated onto Q Magazine when people still treasured the magazine that they bought. My journalistic career since has been on newspapers at The Times, The Independent/i newspaper, Daily & Sunday Express and, ofcourse, National Rock Review.

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