(Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, MI - July 3rd, 2015)
Whitesnake, the typical 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 will come into play tonight BIG time), may well now only be Coverdale and a traveling band of merry men, 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 new recruit guitarist Joel Hoekstra and drummer Tommy Aldridge striding to their spots also. Then, as the boys launch into the guitar laden opening of 'Burn,' Coverdale himself confidently strides out. Grabbing the mic with one hand, the actual stand with the other, after some phallic symbol stances, he then vigorously sways it around to the guitars, before unleashing his trademark vocals to the classic Deep Purple track.
With this new Whitesnake record, The Purple Album, being a complete re-imagining of Deep Purple tracks from the bands Mark III and Mark IV line-ups, those in the audience that were confused by that opening, an extended Purple track therein, stayed that way for quite a while! You see, a lot, and I mean a LOT, of people (nay, fans) just didn't know what to expect tonight from a band touring an album entitled The Purple Album. And so, with a set list nearly 75% chock full of old Deep Purple songs, it left a lot of the fans bewildered, unknowing of these 70's-created songs! That said, when they next launch into a stunning 'Slide It In,' and back it immediately with a brutal 'Love Ain't No Stranger,' those confused among the gathering at least had some old school Snake to sing-along to.
Dressed in a vibrant purple Whitesnake tour shirt, his hair as perfect as it was back in the glory days of MTV, Coverdale doesn't say much for the first few songs, inclusive of the next DP track, 'Gypsy,' but does smile a lot! Reaching the mic into the front row so that audience members/fans can sing the chorus lyrics happens more then once in the opening few songs, but when he does finally speak, he thanks the crowd for coming out and supporting the tour. "Most of you weren't even born when some of these songs were first created," he laughs. "Tonight we're gonna play some older ones for you, so here's one you might know," and with that the band powers up 'Give Me All Your Love.'
Coverdale then, as usual, reminds us of his first time playing the States, by reflecting back 40 years. "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." Always passionate about the memory, always grateful to those that showed up there that night that might well be in the audience tonight, they play 'You Keep on Moving.' "We want to play a song that as written for all of you," Coverdale then reveals,"for all the love you've given us over the years." That song is a quite brilliant 'Forevermore.' Coverdale then introduces Beach's guitar solo, which is backed seamlessly by one from Hoekstra. Both much the same in showing each others skill set off, it's the latter who reverts back to the 80's hair tossing, guitar held at an angle upwards from his crotch style poses for those with front row cameras!
Coverdale then asks the crowd to help him out vocally on the still-vibrant DP track, 'Mistreated,' and backs that with the lesser known 'You Fool No One.' Next he introduces Devin, who actually does less bass guitar work and more Harmonica. Next is a wicked drum solo from Aldridge that had to be seen to be believed. An incredible virtuoso turn on the drums, Aldridge first uses his sticks, but then after launching them high into the audience, finishes the set off with the palms of his hand and even his feet! This then allows Coverdale to go change into a fresh shirt, a black one with 'Make Some F**kin' Noise' emblazoned on the back, and soon the band are knee deep in their biggest radio play song ever, the power ballad 'Is This Love.'
DP tracks 'Lady Double Dealer' and the first single of the new Purple Album, 'Stormbringer' are next, which meant that four out of the last five tracks had been 70's DP songs. Hardly, in all honesty, what the average WS comes to see their musical heroes for, but with Coverdale having changed yet again into a new shirt, this time a cooler-looking white affair, he then introduces the band.
Luckily for all the WS fans, the band ride the show home with a slew of hard hitting WS hits. All ignited by Coverdale's trademark screamed order of "Make some f**kin' noise," they are now more than willingly oblige. The best song of the night, for me, a show stopping 'Bad Boys' comes off the bat first, and has everyone fist pumping and screaming the lyrics out. That's followed by the one track that seems to resonate with American WS fans more than any other, 'Here I Go Again.' As the guitar trio come together center stage for a musical climax, the show ends and the band walk off.
Not to worry though for two minutes later they are all back out, at their respective stations, and a pounding 'Still Of The Night' is brought forth as the one, and sadly only, encore song. "Thank you for coming out and being with us tonight," Coverdale 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 (or two).
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk