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Concert Reviews
Judas Priest w/ Whitesnake
(DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - July 15th, 2009)

Whitesnake, the typical, hard working, hard singing English hard rock band, founded still-to-this-day David Coverdale may have lapsed in their group cohesion of the last few years, but tonight they performed as if it were 20 years ago!

As Coverdale walks out on stage, unannounced, all casual-like, his beaming smile dazzles all that fall under it. Sure his tanned face isn't as young as it once was, and sure his waistline might not be as slim as he'd hoped for these outdoor shows, but man, can that dude still control a set of classic Whitesnake songs!

After a brief intro we get 'Best Years' which segueways into 'Bad Boys' and 'Love Ain't No Stranger.' "It's good to be back, Detroit, as always," he pays comment. "And tonight is an anniversary night of sorts, because 25 years ago we released 'Slide It In'!" 'Slow 'n Easy' is next. "With your permission," he continues, "we'd like to do a new song from our last album, 'Good To Be Bad' ... so here's 'Lay Down Your Love'."

As the baking hot sun cooked down on us all, Whitesnake pounded the stage with their band of young, good-lookin' guitarists for the ladies. A guitar stand-off between Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich is next up, but turns out to be more of an elongated 'here's me, now you' session for ten minutes. But, their guitar work feeds neatly into 'Crying In The Rain,' complete with mid-section drum solo from Chris Frazier.

The fact that Coverdale can quite clearly still hit those beloved wailed high notes is a tribute to his vocal tones, but, and as we head into the final few songs of the night, it's plainly obvious it's all at a price. For, and with the band intros over, we slide into 'Is This Love' effortless, but he seems to be allowing the audience to sing more of the words than I've seen before. "Here's a song for ya," he shouts into the mic, "so make some f**kin' noise, Michigan," before he heads into 'Give Me All Your Love' and the barnstormer, 'Here I Go Again.'

Coverdale is now obviously losing his normal singing voice, and so brings the crowd into the lyrics more and more, to the dismay of some hardened Whitesnake fans around me. Another throaty scream towards the end of 'Here I Go Again' keeps the crowd clapping, before 'Still Of The Night' closes the show in magnificent style. "Thank you for your hospitality," he says, as the band group together for a final bow (the throes of 'We Wish You Well' gently playing behind them), "and don't let anyone ever make you feel bad."

Judas Priest, yet another classic English heavy metal band from Birmingham, broke up a while ago, but after almost twelve years apart, the band and original lead vocalist Rob Halford announced in 2003 they would indeed reunite.

Tonight though, as the huge curtain came down to reveal the band on stage to their adoring fans, it was Halford's static stage presence that bewildered most all. Two songs in and Halford hadn't even left his stage center, back from the edge, hunched over his mic stand like some threatened schoolboy protective of his lunch money! Then, coming to the stage front, he finally speaks. "The Priest is back! Tonight we're gonna do something special. As it's the 30th anniversary of the 'British Steel' album, we're gonna do it all for you tonight."

'Breaking The Law' is next and is greated by one and all in absolute musical jubilation, for they now knew that front to back, JP were going to unleash every track from 1980's 'British Steel' album. 'Rapid Fire,' 'Metal Gods,' 'Grinder,' 'United' and, of course radio fav 'Living After Midnight' all are sung to the max that Halford's vocal tones could plummet the depths of! At this stage, the fact that Halford kept coming on stage to only solo and then went sidestage hidden while the guitars did their thing wasn't questioned. However, later, it was ... more than once by people around me!

'Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise,' the brilliant 'Rage' (complete with lime green flashing-thin strobe lights), and 'Steeler' kept the show rolling along, but I couldn't help thinking that the three guitarists looked just like Spinal Tap! Anyway, the next song to get the crowd all riled up was the dark tale of 'The Ripper.' Set out in red strobe lights it looked the part for sure. From their concept album came the violently heavy 'Nostradamus,' complete with backdrop of said man and his glowing red eyes, and then was followed by 'Hell Patrol.'

With Halford still wrapped up in his multiple layers of leather clothing, his well-rounded belly hidden for the most part, but not always, the two lead guitars come to front stage and wailed, whilst Halford dug deep into a long version of 'Victim Of Changes' to bring the set to a close.

To the sounds of many motorbike revs, Halford then comes back on stage sitting atop a gleaming machine. Now adorned with a long, glitterball-styled leather jacket, he then proceeds to sing 'Freewheel Burning' slightly hunched over it, facing far stage left! Even on 'Burn In Hell' he only manages to gently get off it and kneel one knee on it; his now-in-place classic cap's brim completely covering his eyes!

The bike off stage now, and Halford in a less shiny, but equally long leather jacket, 'Blood Red Skies' is next and as everyone starts to look at their watches as the 11.00pm witching hour fast approaches, the last song of the night, 'You've Got Another Thing Coming' is brought to the fore.

Review and Photos by: Russell A. Trunk