– Words by Jordan Buford / Photos by James Villa –
The Bomb Factory / Dallas, TX (Friday, June 3rd, 2016)
It had very nearly been a full year since Whitesnake was last in town, which honestly was hard to believe. It didn’t seem like it had already been that long, though the rock icons were already hitting the road again, following last years The Purple Tour with The Greatest Hits Tour 2016.
The prospect of hearing nothing but the hits was more than enough to get their fans out, as David Coverdale and company made a stop in Deep Ellum this time around, The Bomb Factory being the venue that was hosting them in the historic Dallas area.
The massive room was fairly sparse early on as Whitford/St. Holms delivered their opening set, a set that focused on material from the recently released Reunion album as well as some covers of some songs each of the two artists are known for. Aerosmith’s “Last Child” and “Train Kept A-Rollin’” for example (at least Aerosmith turned that latter number into a successful cover of their own) as well as a couple Ted Nugent tracks, like “Stranglehold”.
Patrons enjoyed their set, but that wasn’t who they were there to see.
During the brief changeover as Whitesnake’s drum kit was revealed, guitars checked and so on, the room began to fill. Suddenly, moving around to visit the bar and such became more of a task as people had to work to navigate through the sea of spectators. It was almost easier to just stay put as onlookers crowded in more and more, The Bomb Factory appearing to be pushing its capacity.
The crowd roared once the lights dimmed the band’s name and logo appearing on the screen at the back of the stage, while some light percussion and riffs filled the air. Then Coverdale appeared, asking the onlookers if they were ready while he hoisted the microphone stand into the air, twirling it in his hands. Immediately you wondered, “What happened to frontmen of this caliber?” You don’t see many modern ones doing things like that, and they hadn’t even begun the warm-up phase yet.
Their self-titled album from nearly thirty-years ago would receive a lot of focus this night — this marking only the second show of the current tour — with “Bad Boys” setting things in motion. It set the tone well for the evening, establishing the mood was all about cutting loose and rocking out. The audience was perfectly okay with that, screaming when Coverdale asked for some noise, as well as chiming in on parts of the song, something that would be highly encouraged throughout the night.
The six musicians kept a machine-gun pace for much of the night, seldom letting up between any of the songs, even the more balled-esque ones like “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, which was a fan favorite of the night and one that best showed off how pristine Coverdale’s voice still sounds. The fleeting moments when he didn’t have any instruments to compete against allowed you a glimpse at how phenomenal his pipes are, but even when he was belting out the words it sounded almost as if you were listening to the recording. It’s remarkable, the condition his voice is still in.
“Sailing Ships” was one song that seemed to come out of left field, shocking nearly everyone, though it was one just about everybody was truly elated to hear. It was followed by another fairly surprising track, “Judgement Day” possessing a raw, heavy rock quality, the rhythm section being in complete charge of it all.
Just about everyone in Whitesnake was the center of attention at one point or another this night, and upon finishing that song everyone bowed out except for Reb Beach who wailed for a couple of minutes on his axe, eventually ceding the stage over to Joel Hoekstra, who dabbled on an electric an acoustic guitar for his solo.
Michael Devin got a bass solo one song later. However, the most impressive of those had to belong to Tommy Aldridge.
His moment came during an impassioned performance of “Crying in the Rain”, when suddenly he was the only one remaining on stage. He began hammering away on his sizable drum kit, tapering off a couple of minutes in, and if that didn’t make you think he was winding it down then the fact that he threw his drumsticks away did. But no. Instead he proceed to use the palms of his hands to strike the cymbals and drums, continuing for another minute or so like that before everyone else rejoined him to finish out the song they were still on.
Their final three tracks seemed to allow the die-hard fans to finish checking things off of their wish list, “Give Me All Your Love” being one they enthusiastically sang along with, while “Here I Go Again” served as the perfect way to end things, with it, too, being a number everyone knew by heart.
On that note, the diversity of their fan base was quite interesting this night. From people who had been supporting Whitesnake since their inception in the late 70’s to those that were born in the late 80’s to early 90’s, just about every age range was represented this night. I always love seeing that, as it’s a perfect testament as to just what a huge impact a band has had on the people of the world. It reaffirms that music is an entity that is not bound by time, always able to win over new listeners and strike a chord with them.
It was evident Whitesnake has many songs like that, and just about all of them were played this night. They even came back to deliver one more for everyone, “Still of the Night” being the lone encore.
Lets address the obvious, when a band or musician does a greatest hits tour, most people begin to think the band is washed up. From the fan perspective, I can understand how that looks, though the motives behind it can often be misinterpreted.
It’s not necessarily a desperate attempt to ensure fans come out to the show before getting ready to ride off into the sunset.
There were no traces of anything like that from Whitesnake this night. Coverdale finessed the spectators, knowing just what to do to capture their complete attention as he often paced from one side of the stage to the other, frequently making eye contact with everyone he could, feeling like he was connecting with everyone on a personal level. Beach, Hoekstra, Devin, Aldridge, and keyboardist Michele Luppi kept pace with ease, each delivering an energetic performance in their right, which only wound up providing more fuel for Coverdale to use, the lot of them having a masterful execution of what a performance is supposed to be.
The focus was entirely on the music and the musicianship, just as it should be, while the songs felt more like a reward to the fans for supporting Whitesnake for so long. It was their way of saying “thank you”, treating everyone to a slew of classics like they did.
And for the record, they are far from being on their last leg. They ran circles around many of their younger counterparts that are out there, reminding everyone that Whitesnake is still a force to be reckoned with in the rock world.
“Slide It In”
“Love Ain’t No Stranger”
“The Deeper the Love”
“Fool for Your Loving”
“Slow an’ Easy”
“Crying in the Rain” (with Drum Solo)
“Is This Love?”
“Give Me All Your Love”
“Here I Go Again”
“Still of the Night”