(DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI - July 24th, 2013)
Whitesnake, the typical hard working, hard singing English hard rock band, founded many moons ago and yet led still-to-this-day by the incomparable David Coverdale may have lapsed in their group cohesion of the last few years, but tonight they performed as if it were 30 years ago!
As the clock strikes 9.00pm and The Who's 'My Generation' begins to ring out over the PA, from stage right guitarist Reb Beach wanders out, guitar held aloft in the air, a broad smile emblazoned. But then he wanders off to a guitar tech and then out walks guitarist Michael Devin. He just lingers behind the drum set, as does a passive David Coverdale. It's as if they aren't aware of the 3,000 people baying their collective group name just feet away!
Finally they all take to the stage, Coverdale smiling from ear to ear, his arms outstretched, his stride to the mic stand both meaningful and purposeful. With the backdrop that of The Year of The Snake, it's a large set that they try to fill. And wholly succeed. "Here's something for ya," Coverdale growls, before picking up his mic stand, twirling it and slamming it back to the stage three times. 'Give Me All Your Love' is that song and they back it up with a rip-roaring 'Ready an' Willing' and a brutal 'Love Ain't No Stranger.'
That segues into 'Is This Love,' which allows Coverdale to relax the vocal screaming for a hot second or two. "Hello, Pine Knob," Coverdale speaks to his gathering, paying homage to the name that the newly-christened DTE Energy Theatre once lovingly had. "It is so good to be back in your company again tonight, Michigan. This is the Year of The Snake tour. 35 years of Whitesnake. I remember you all when you were younger," he laughs, turning to look at his own band members too.
It's at this point he takes a sip of something handed to him from the front row, shrugs thereafter, pulls a few faces of dislike, and goes back to his own drink to wash the taste away! "Anyway, I first played here in Detroit with Deep Purple at Cobo Hall, but along the way you lose people, you lose friends. So this next song is dedicated to Mel Galley, Cozy Powell and Jon Lord. See if you remember this one," he adds as the band launch into 'Gambler.'
'Love Will Set You Free' is next, and not only comes complete with a thunderous guitar moment from Doug Aldrich, but he sings the first few lines also! With three guitars crankin' the sound levels to a point where I was wishing I had ear plugs, Coverdale asks us to "Make some noise" before introducing solo guitar work from both Aldrich and then Beach. They then work together for 'Pistols At Dawn,' before Michael Devin brings his harmonica to the fore for the start of 'Steal Your Heart Away.'
Next up is an incredible virtuoso turn on the drums from Tommy Aldridge as he first uses sticks, but then after launching them high into the audience, finishes the set off with the palms of his hand and even his feet! After introducing each member of the band one by one, after a shirt change Coverdale then offers a shot of whiskey around to the front row to each sip. Resting his vocals a bit more for the passive (to begin with, at least) love song 'Forevermore,' he dedicates it to all the fans that have followed the band for the past 35 years.
A blockbuster medley of both 'Slide It In' coupled with 'Slow An' Easy' is all-to-short, but is backed by a show stopping 'Bad Boys.' With Coverdale's vocal chords definitely now taking a beating, it's noticeable that with the final two songs he is letting the audience sing a lot of the lyrics. Ergo both 'Here I Go Again' and 'Still Of The Night' still have the high octane Coverdale feel, but the lyrics are tonight owned by the baying crowd of Snake Heads.
"Thank you for coming out and being with us tonight," he says, as the band group together for a final bow. "Be safe, be happy and don't let anyone make you afraid." And as he signs CD sleeves, guitar pics are thrown out, each band member shakes hands with those lucky enough to be up front, and to the throes of 'We Wish You Well' gently playing behind them they finally turn and are gone for yet another year.
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk