Friday night was my tenth time to see the legendary WHITESNAKE live, but it’s been 26 years since the last time, when I witnessed them headlining the Castle Donington Monsters of Rock show in 1990 in England. I’ve really enjoyed their recent released, especially the very excellent The Purple Album from 2015, so I was really hoping that the band was at the same level live as I remembered from so many years ago. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about, but we’ll get to that in just a bit.
First up was the opening act, WHITFORD/ST. HOLMES, a pairing of Brad Whitford from AEROSMITH and Derek St. Holmes, vocalist for TED NUGENT on many of his greatest hits. I have to admit – I do not remember their album from the 1980’s, but I really enjoyed their performance. They played a number of their blues-based hard rock originals, as well as covers from AEROSMITH (“Love Child”) and TED NUGENT (“Hey, Baby” and “Stranglehold”). While not familiar with their originals, I really enjoyed their performance and I was a little disappointed when they left the stage after just 35 minutes – I’ll be sure to catch them again if I have the opportunity.
After a 30 minute break, the lights went down again, “My Generation” by THE WHO started playing on the PA, and WHITESNAKE took their places on stage, with David Coverdale strutting up and down in front of the crowd, pumping everyone up before launching into “Bad Boys”, and the signature howl that opened that song was a great indicator that he’s still got it!
The next hour and a half was a litany of the greatest hits from the Slide It In, 1987/Serpens Albus, and Slip of the Tongue album arc, and the only way it could have been better would be if they’d played for three hours and thrown in some deeper cuts. The band spent more than a week practicing for the show, and it really paid off. Tommy Aldridge was amazing on the drums, and while I’m not generally a fan of drum solos, he did a great job (sandwiched into “Crying In The Rain”) with his signature mop flying around while he tore up the skins.
Michele Luppi (ex-VISION DIVINE) has been on keyboards for the band for the last couple of years – it was a real treat to get to finally see him live, and it was obvious that he was having a blast on stage. Michael Devin (bass) was great and really solid in his playing – it’s clear that he’s spent a lot of time with the songs over the last several years with the band, and he sounded awesome.
Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach on guitar were almost untouchable – Joel ran all over the stage, constantly smiling and laughing, while Reb maintained his usual more stoic posture while he shredded through their hits. Their solos were back to back and were fantastic, while not being overly indulgent. This was my first time to catch Joel live, and I loved what I heard!
David Coverdale was all over the stage, slinging his microphone stand around in his signature manner, and connecting with the audience for the entire show. Whether belting out faster songs or crooning his way through the ballads (“Sailing Ships”, “Is This Love”, “The Deeper The Love”), it’s obvious that he’s been taking care of his voice over the last couple of decades, because he sounded amazing!
Unfortunately, despite the amazing performance, all good things do have to come to an end, and after wrapping up the set with “Give Me All Your Love” and “Here I Go Again”, the band played a quick encore of their seminal classic “Still Of The Night” and took their bows. It was a great night and a memorable performance, and left no doubt thatWHITESNAKE can still deliver at the high level that their fans expect and deserve. If you have the opportunity to catch them live, do not pass it up under any circumstances.
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: FRANK ZABER/IMAGES FROM THE DARK