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Metal/Prog Metal Concert Reviews

Whitesnake

Chicago, IL July 2005

Review by Greg Olma

Whitesnake is one of my guilty pleasures. I'm not a hair metal fan and unfortunately, Whitesnake gets lumped into that genre. I was a David Coverdale fan way before he spit shined his band into the MTV-friendly version everyone remembers. I knew going in that this was going to be a greatest hits show, just without the Aquanet and eyeliner. I was pleasantly surprised that they threw in a few oldies for us fans who remember Whitesnake before "Slide It In". The show started off with that old Deep Purple classic "Burn". Not only was this a great way to start a show but it also paid homage to where it all started for David Coverdale. The band played this one pretty close to the original with only a little bit of updating. They followed "Burn" with last year's opener "Bad Boys". This is one of those songs that is meant to be played on stage and Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich really tore it up. Both guitarists play off one another extremely well. "Love Ain't No Stranger" was next and by this time, David had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Everyone in the audience knew the words and they proved it by singing them so loudly that David could have stopped singing.

What came next really blew me away. Doug Aldrich started strumming the intro to "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City". I haven't seen Whitesnake play this song since 1987. Had they left the stage after this song, I still would have walked away happy. In recent years, David Coverdale's vocals have shown some age with the screaming metal of his '80s songs. "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City" really showcased the best part of his singing (not screaming) ability. He really should stick to singing some more of his older, bluesier material because that is where he really shines. They followed up that old classic with "Slow An' Easy". The song comes across great live but I did feel David's vocal performance fell a little short. The band, on the other hand, was red hot. David Coverdale has always surrounded himself with top quality musicians and this one incarnation is as good as any of them. Next up, we were treated to "Judgment Day" which is the best song off of the rather disappointing "Slip Of The Tongue" album.

Doug Aldrich was given his solo spot right after "Judgment Day". I really never understood why solo spots are included in concerts. Maybe it gives the singer time to rest his voice, or the performer needs an ego boost. Either way, I feel that you lose momentum (and the audience - beer line anyone?) during the solos. We all know Doug is a great player but a 5 minute solo is a bit much. This led into an instrumental where he was joined by the rest of the band (minus David). The instrumental lasted another 3 ½ minutes. I would like to have seen another song performed in that timeframe. Let's face it, no matter how good the band is, we are here to see David Coverdale sing, not his band play solos.

When David finally came back on stage, they played a scorching version of "Crying In The Rain". The 9 minute rest must have done him some good because David was spot on in his vocal performance. Just as I was getting back into the show, the momentum was lost again with Tommy Aldridge's drum solo. There is no denying that he is one of the best drummers around but he didn't do anything during his 5 minute solo that further enhanced my opinion of his abilities.

Now it was time for the power ballad and Whitesnake didn't disappoint with "Is This Love". I'm not one for ballads but David's singing is so good on this one that I find myself really enjoying the song. To round off the rest of the show, the band pulled out 3 rockers. "Slide It In", always a crowd favorite, started it off with "Give Me All Your Love" and "Here I Go Again" in close succession. The band really ended the regular set on a high note.

Just when I thought that there were no more surprises, David and the boys pulled out a "deep cut". The first song of the encore was a Coverdale Page song called "Feeling Hot". American audiences were never treated to any live performances of those songs. You would have had to have gone to Japan to catch it before tonight. When David announced that they would be performing a Coverdale Page song, you could have knocked me over with a feather. It's times like these that make the show something special. After "Feeling Hot", Whitesnake had one more for us and before they left the stage they played a great version of "Still Of The Night". On the ride home, I thought about the show I had just seen. Sure, there were things I would have changed but ultimately, I had fun. And isn't that what going to a concert is all about?

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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