(Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI - June 17th, 2016)
Whitesnake, the hard working, hard singing, hard rockin' band, founded many moons ago by the incomparable David Coverdale after his departure from his previous band, Deep Purple (which he combined a new album and highly underrated tour with last year), may well now only be Coverdale and a traveling band of troubadours, but tonight they performed as if they had been together for 40 years!
As the clock strikes 9.00pm from stage left guitarist Reb Beach wanders out, guitar already slung, ready for action, a broad smile emblazoned. Next comes bassist Michael Devin, with both guitarist Joel Hoekstra and drummer Tommy Aldridge striding to their marks quickly thereafter. Then comes the man himself, DC. Dressed, as always, in one of his very own Whitesnake designer shirts, his hair as perfect as it was back in the glory days of MTV, the boys launch into the guitar throbbing opening of 'Bad Boys’. Coverdale throws his cheeky grin around, suggestively grabs the mic stand, asks the audience to “Make some f@ckin’ noise”, and powering out his uniquely throaty vocals, we are officially off and running.
With The Purple Album and tour behind them from last year, this was now entitled The Greatest Hits Tour, and as much as there were only 13 songs, one of which was far from a “hit“ of any kind, this band still have what it takes to convince their fans they have every right to still be charging $35 for a tour tshirt! Sure not everything was perfect with the show, which we‘ll get to shortly, but having seen a lot of bands still trying to reclaim their 80‘s/90‘s heady spotlight of fame, Whitesnake just never lost it. It‘s that simple.
Without DC saying much of any note, after ’Bad Boys’ we get the powerhaus trio of ’Slide It In,’ ’Love Ain’t No Stranger,’ and the lush mid-tempo ballad, ’The Deeper The Love.’ Once ’Fool For Your Loving’ has been brought forth, DC finally addresses the audience. “Good evening, Detroit.” Then spotting a few men in uniform in the front row, perhaps just the well-dressed Fox Theatre staff, to be honest, he says, “Ohh, I do love a man in uniform. And look,” he adds, walking the front row, “we’ve got the Righteous Brothers here also!” As he then turns back to look at Joel, he quickly spins back to face the crowd once more. “OK, we’ve got a song for ya, but before that, I want you to know that the first time I ever performed here in the US I played here in Detroit with Deep Purple. It was at Cobo Hall. You remember that place?” he asks, referring to a building that still stands tall, and is the current home of the Detroit Red Wings.
“I f@ckin’ love that I’m here now with you all tonight,” he further says. “So, here’s a song for ya that Mr. Hoekstra will introduce,” he adds, as they then bring us the only non-hit of the set, ’Sailing Ships.’ Not an obvious fan favorite, people look at each other, begin to chat amongst themselves, and even leave for either a beer or a piss (or both), but when that track powers on through seamlessly into the massive ’Judgement Day’, just like that the fans are back and singing along as loud, and as proud as ever. Ending that song with his trademark wail, it’s obvious early on that DC is struggling with his throaty vocals. Not only does he now proffer the mic more and more to the front row “singers” to sing entire lines of songs, but his band take over whole chunks also. DC said back when The Purple Tour got so much flack that that was probably it for Whitesnake and touring live, so there is obviously a dire possibility DC is going to call it quits after this tour now.
“Thank you so much, Detroit, “ DC comes to the front of the stage, grinning like the cat that got the cream, “and please say hello to the insanely talented Reb Beech and the incredibly talented Joel Hoekstra.” What comes next are two guitar solo spots that, much like the upcoming bass guitar and drum solo spots, are an old school fixture of bands like this (and blues bands, in general), and yet something that has to stop! They are no longer required listening and viewing for the fans, whose attention spans, when before were rockin’ out to a “greatest hit” are now lost, bored, begging for another hit to come along - and quickly! Don’t take just my journalistic word for it, for these were statements being heard all around me, as Beech definitely won the battle of how to make his guitar sound one minute like a speeding train about to derail, the next a rocket screeching its way skyward. Hoekstra just played his sparkly purple WS guitar as if he had come in midway through a power ballad, before turning his attention to a Flamenco guitar; expertly showing off his quick-fingered plucking skills thereafter.
Once all the guys were back on stage, the brilliant’ Slow An’ Easy’ is performed, and then it’s during ‘Crying In The Rain’ that the set is once again broken up - this time by the nonsense of a bass guitar solo from Michael Devlin. Fair play that he funked it up, made it old school, but why oh why does anybody at a rock concert ever want to hear a bass guitar solo at the best of times, sorry? He then finishes, screams “Tommy …” whilst pointing backwards, and next up is Aldridge’s very own solo moment in the spotlight. As always, he goes from a riveting, if not typical drumming exhibition with sticks, to throwing them into the audience and just using the palms of his hands and his feet - on everything! The guys then come back out to finish off ‘Crying In The Rain’, DC (now in a different WS shirt, this time with 'Make Some F@ckin' Noise' emblazoned on the back). He introduces the band one at a time front of stage, informs us they have a song for us, and then we get the massive radio power ballad hit ‘Is This Love.’
That bleeds seamlessly into ‘Gimme All You Love,’ and sporting yet another big cheesy, but genuinely warm and welcoming grin, we get the last song of the set, ‘ Here I Go Again.’ “Thank you so much, Detroit,” DC waves at the crowd, before walking off stage, which doesn’t last long as soon they are back, with DC asking “You wanna make some real noise, Detroit?” The always epic ‘Still Of The Night’ is then the only encore song, and therein the last song of the night, wrapping up 90 minutes of pure Whitesnake perfectly. “A thousand thank you’s for your hospitality tonight, Detroit,“ DC adds, as the band group together for a final bow. "Be safe, be happy and don't let anyone make you afraid", he adds, waving again, bumping fists with those lucky front row hands And to the throes of 'We Wish You Well', which in turn is then followed by Monty Python’s ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ now left to play over the speakers, they all leave the stage, one by one.
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk