THERE'S A LOT OF LOVE IN THE HEART OF EDINBURGH FOR BERNIE MARSDEN
An Audience With Bernie Marsden. The Caves, Edinburgh, 26th September 2016
Edinburgh has quite a few small music venues squeezed into the nooks and crannies of the city's architecture and The Caves is one of the most unusual. Situated under the eighteenth century South Bridge, a space which, among other things, was once used for storing whisky barrels and as a stables for visiting French cavalry, is now a unique events space and hosts occasional gigs. Tonight the atmospheric and intimate space is the setting for an evening with veteran British blues rocker Bernie Marsden. Despite his years of experience even Bernie finds the venue worth remarking on.
Tonight's show is part of a four date Scottish tour doing an 'audience with' kind of set-up with the accent on small crowds. Stripped back versions of songs from his extensive back catalogue and the chance to ask questions and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes of his career.
Ably supported on guitar and vocals by FM's Jim Kirkpatrick, I knew that the quality of the performance would be high and I wasn't disappointed. Songs covering his career from the blues standards he loved as a young man to more recent output from his album, 'Shine', all sounded immaculate in this stripped down format.
The audience of Marsden enthusiasts gave the man and the format the respect it deserved so you could easily hear all of the intricate and delicate guitar work on offer and how good the vocal harmonies were too. The anecdotes, like the one about meeting his idol Peter Green, were fascinating as well and as promised every so often he would ask for questions from the audience, which when you think about it is a brave thing for any professional musician to do.
The subjects covered included why Paice Ashton Lord never became successful and his autobiography due out sometime soon hopefully. Mr Marsden is a warm and affable man and his responses were always interesting and often funny too. When I asked him how he felt watching the modern version of Whitesnake perform songs he was involved in writing the answer came as quick as a flash. "Richer".
Of course that wasn't the only time that Whitesnake was mentioned. So many of us hold fond memories of the hugely successful British blues version of Whitesnake that Marsden was a part of that there was no way those songs wouldn't feature in the set and we got some absolutely delightful inclusions. 'The Time Is Right For Love' (played live only once by the band themselves we were told), ''Til The Day I Die' and 'Ain't Gonna Cry No More' were beautifully performed and greeted like the old friends they are.
No invitation was needed for everyone to join in on Bobby Bland's 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' and of course we got 'Here I Go Again', sounding more fragile than anthemic in this pared back, slowed down take.
As a special treat at the request of the promoter, the evening and this short tour came to an end with 'We Wish You Well', the song from the Lovehunter' album that used to play on the PA at the end of every Whitesnake gig. A real and rare treat.
This was a fantastic night of music and bonhomie and tales from the past in the company of two excellent musicians and one man who you could say is becoming a legend in his own lifetime. I am sure that forthcoming autobiography will be fascinating and hope there are more shows to come like this to support the release. Highly recommended if so.