08 Aug. 2015
On Friday July 24, 2015 David Coverdale brought his 2015 version of Whitesnake to Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Being a long time fan of Whitesnake (I first saw them in 1987 opening for Motley Crüe on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour and then again as headliners that very same year as they were supporting their MONSTEROULY successful self-titled album), I naturally jumped at the chance to review their newest line-up for Lady Obscure.
Throughout the years and through multiple line-up changes, one thing has remained consistent with the Whitesnake machine, Tommy Aldridge behind the drum kit powering the engine, and of course the charismatic and flamboyant frontman Coverdale, whose bluesy vocal tone and sharp wit has remained intact after all these years.
Joining Coverdale in this newest incarnation is newest members Joel Hoekstra on lead guitar (TSO, Night Ranger) and Michele Luppi from Italy on vocals/keyboards (Secret Sphere, Vision Divine, Killing Touch). Hoekstra adds a rock star swagger to the lead guitar position teamed up with bandleader and fellow axe wielder Reb Beach (Winger, The Mob). Of course being a writer for Lady Obscure Music Magazine, whose major goal is to shine a spotlight on underground or “obscure” metal music, I was already quite familiar with the great Michele Luppi’s abilities as a lead vocalist with his various power metal bands. Luppi’s role here is to provide harmony background vocals and use his skills on the keys to provide the Snake with the necessary keyboards to perform the classic Whitesnake material as well as the classic Coverdale-era Deep Purple that this tour is focusing on Whitesnake’s The Purple Album (out now on Frontiers Records). In both aspects, Luppi fits right into the mix. Bassist Michael Devin not only keeps the rhythm section in the pocket but he is also a fine vocalist in his own right as well as a harmonica player and showman.
Now that the introductions have been made, on to the show itself, which was held in a 3,000 seat capacity ballroom at Twin River Casino. As a venue, I was less than thrilled with the casino atmosphere, but the stage, lighting and sound were all exceptional, so I can overlook the smoky, loud atmosphere outside of the main ballroom.
The band kicked into the Deep Purple classic Burn to start off the show. A great choice as an opening song as the song has an energy and power to it that got the crowd on its feet. The band then launched into a two-song assault from the Slide It In era with the title track followed by the bluesy hauntingly melodic Love Ain’t No Stranger. The crowd ate these offerings up, as they have both been a staple on hard rock radio for over two decades.
Coverdale commands the stage like few others in the hard rock game and could probably teach today’s young upstarts a thing or two about keeping the crowd in the palm of your hand. The band reached back into the vault for another Purple song The Gypsy which then segued into the MTV (when they played music videos) hit Gimme All Your Love Tonight, which was met with an enthusiastic response from the crowd. The band went back to the Purple catalog with You Keep Me Moving, and a lesser known Whitesnake song Forevermore, which featured harmony vocals from Luppi,Devin, and Beach. This song stole the show in my opinion as the band sounded incredibly tight and the vocals were spot on. This led into the guitar solo section of the show where Beach and Hoekstra got to show off their considerable chops. Coverdale has always been known to hire the best guitarists whether it is with John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg, Vivian Campbell, Steve Vai, and Dough Aldrich. The team of Hoekstra and Beach prove they are the perfect choice for Whitesnake 2015.
The crowd was treated to two more Purple classics (Mistreated and You Fool No One) before Tommy Aldridge took the stage for his drum solo, Aldridge has always been known as one of rocks greatest drummers, performing with Black Oak Arkansas, Ozzy Osbourne, as well as the classic era of Whitesnake. Aldridge performed an age-defying, world-class drum solo that had the crowd cheering in amazement at his energy and technique.
Things slowed down for another massive hit from the 1987 era as the band performed Is This Love, one of the songs that defined the term “power ballad” in the 1980’s. The band then played two more cuts off their biggest album with Bad Boys and their biggest song ever Here I Go Again to a huge ovation from the crowd to end the regular set.
The band returned after a short break to give the crowd one more classic with the heavy and bluesy strut of Still of the Night to end the night on a strong high note. My only complaint would be that the band did not perform one of my favorites Children of the Night (only hinting at it during Bad Boys). But this is a minor complaint to be sure!
It is amazing to think that David Coverdale has kept Whitesnake going for almost 40 years and with the current line-up they have no signs of stopping!