My history with Whitesnake started in 1984, when their classic "Slide It In" album was released. "Love Ain't No Stranger" had become a massive hit here in Brazil, and in the following year, well, they were in Rock In Rio. They had become a huge band down here before their worldwide commercial explosion with their 1987 album. Unfortunately, I couldn't watch them in 1985, since I was only 9 years old and my parents would never take me to a music festival at the time. Needless to say, Whitesnake became one of my all time favorite bands, and I, as a collector, spend some very big money on everything and anything I could get from the band. Proud of my 80-item + Whitesnake collection, really.
Whitesnake came back to Brazil for the second time in 1997, when the "Restless Heart" album was released. They were the huge band they once were then, but watching them live for the first time was something unforgetable. It was even more exciting being able to meet David Coverdale (one of my biggest idols ever) and Adrian Vandenberg. Soon after the concert, fans got to know the band would call its quits again.
But they were back in 2005 with a hit, fresh, brand-new line-up, and seeing them again performing was awesome. I met them again (meeting Tommy Aldridge was a blast!), but not Mr. Coverdale this time. A couple of years later, they were back here again. New line-up and a new album. Great to meet them and see them live again, no doubt about it! Once again, I just couldn't meet Mr. Coverdale.
(Photo credit Rodrigo Teixeira)
Whitesnake was back here in 2011, once again with a new album, the fantastic "Forevermore", and a new line-up. That had been the best Whitesnake gig I had been to. I met the band again, this time also David Coverdale. WOW... It was a pity that when they returned here in 2014 I couldn't see them again, since I was in England attending Firefest.
So, Whitesnake announced that they'd be coming back on a "Greatest HitsTour"... At the same time I was happy I would have the chance to see them again, I was very suspicious about this being a tour where they played the real, timeless classic tunes. I refused to go and look at any setlists so that I would be surprised, if that was the case. With another line-up change (Tommy Aldridge back on drums, guitarist Joel Hoesttra, formerly of Night Ranger replacing long time guitar wizard Doug Aldrich and keyboardist Michelle Luppi), it would be an extra something to look at.
October 3rd, 2016. Whitesnake played their last show of the South American Greatest Hits Tour here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and then they were headed for Japan. It was a cloudy day and the chosen venue was a bit far from everywhere. Anyway, anything to see Whitesnake! I was lucky enough to be in the first row for the first time ever at a gig of theirs.
(Photo credit Rodrigo Teixeira)
The band hit the stage around ten minutes later than the scheduled time. The delay was soon forgotten and forgiven when the first notes of "Bad Boys / Children Of The Night" were played. The crowd went nuts, really. Remembering it was the song that was the opener of the '87-'88 tour, one could feel they meant business when they announced this Greatest HitsTour! Mr. Coverdale is one of the best frontmen and singers ever, no matter if his voice isn't as strong as it used to be. In fact, it was his best vocal performance I have ever watched myself. Tommy Aldridge's monsterous drum work was just perfect, confirming his also being one of the best drummers of Rock And Roll history. Bassist Michael Devin has really switched from being a simple band member to being one of the key elements of the new Whitesnake. New keyboardist Michelle Luppi did a good job, while guitar shreders Reb Beach (also from Winger) and newcomer Joel Hoesttra showed how good they can be, playing their asses off and proving to be superb musicians. David Coverdale had the brilliant idea of having two great guitar players under his wings, but one totally different from the other. Reb has been Whitesnake's guitarist who uses his unique skills as a fast, two-thousand-note-per-second guitar player, who is like that only when it's necessary, always focusing on the music. And Joel is there as, as I call it, the Rock And Roll Whitesnake guitarist. Even not being close to Doug Aldrich's past guitar work in the band, Joel's charisma and stage performance are as good as any top guitar player in the world. In short, that was a really good start for the gig.
Coming next was "Slide It In", a great song in my humble opinion, that hadn't been played live for quite a while. Once again, the band made it sound as if we were back in 1988. Such a great feeling! "Love Ain't No Stranger", their first big hit here in Brazil, then made the crowd go wild again, and I guess one wouldn't find a single soul in the venue who wasn't singing along to it, word by word. If that was really a Greatest Hits show... Well, they had it started the right way. I was surprised that one of my all time favorite Whitesnake songs came next, the ballad "The Deeper The Love". I just couldn't believe they were playing one of the Whitesnake songs I listen to the most... Totally incredible!!! Well, Mr. Coverdale stood up to the promise of a Greatest Hits show. That was clear then.
"Fool For Your Lovin'" kept the audience going wild, singing along and happier than I had ever seen them at the previous Whitesnake shows (including myself)... To slow down a little bit, the classic and bluesy "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City" was to follow, and it really pleased those who like the 70's Whitesnake better. David was, as always, very soulful, and he did his very best to hit every single note on the songs. Such a great show by song number six. If one considers that ticket prices in Brazil cost us around US$2000... it was really worth paying for.
(Photo credit Rodrigo Teixeira)
"Judgement Day" came next, proving Whitesnake can be melodic, soft and commercial, but heavy at the same time. The track that was supposed to be the first single off the "Slip Of The Tongue" album has always been not only one of David's but also the fans' favorites. A great song to be followed by Reb Beach's guitar solo, on which he showed his technique is always improving. Reb has always been a perfect guitarist for Whitesnake. It's a pity that his other great band Winger isn't so popular as it used to be in the past. It's always great to see Reb play, whether if you're a musician or not. Joel hit the stage and it was time for him to show Whitesnake fans what he could do. As I said before, he's a great guitarist and no one can deny both his charisma and stage performance, but it's not an easy task to replace the great Doug Aldrich, who is doing great with The Dead Daisies now. Joel is a great musician, he's got what it takes to be in a huge band as Whitesnake, but comparisons simply cannot be not made. Not even his bringing an acoustic guitar to be played during three minutes during his guitar solo and his collection of great looking, colorful, shiny Whitesnake custom guitars made a significant difference... Doug was an important part of Whitesnake. Maybe after some time fans will see him with better eyes, just like they did when Doug first joined the band. As for now, even considering Joel is a great musician, it feels like comparing Yngwie Malmsteen to Ritchie Blackmore - the first seems to be just a clone of the original. I hope it changes for Joel's sake in the near future.
Whitesnake kicked "Slow An' Easy" in next, which was a great and pleasant surprise. Many doubted that David would hit the notes... actually he didn't, but he did his best. And it was simply awesome!!! The crowd's singing along to the songs is an ace upon Mr. Coverdale's sleeves, and eventually any Whitesnake song will sound great. Hatts off to him and the band for playing this one! Bassist Michael Devin's solo was nothing but awesome. Whenever bass players from this music genre do solos, even fans are suspicious about them, since they simply make noises playing notes using lots of effects. Michael could show he is a real musician, and his solo was way better than any fan could ever have expected. We can easily understand now how he got the spot of Mr. Coverdale's main man after Doug Aldrich's leaving the band. Michael has everything it takes to be considered one of the finest bass players of today's rock music scene.
So it was the time for another of the many highlights of the concert - when Whitesnake played the first notes of "Cryin' In The Rain" the crowd went nuts. Well, once again David Coverdale could count on some thousands of fans to help him sing this classic song. Once again whoever was there had the feeling of being at a Whitesnake concert in 1988. That was very emotional to any diehard Whitesnake fan. And just like they did in the old days, Tommy Aldridge's drum solo was in the middle of the song. Tommy, I must repeat it, is and will always be one of the best drummers in rock music. He'd played with so many greatest artists until he finally found his home in Whitesnake. His playing is simply not to be compared to anyone else's. There aren't so many drummers around (actually there have never been) who hit the skins not only with their drumsticks but also with their own hands! Tommy is the kind of musician that will always be remembered for his musicianship, not for the glamour of being a rock star. I guess he couldn't care less about it. That's Tommy Aldridge, folks!!! The whole band came onstage again and finished playing this fan-favorite tune. A memorable moment for sure!
(Photo credit Rodrigo Teixeira)
Could that get any better? Well, if one loved "Is This Love" just like me, it surely could. This classic Whitesnake ballad stood the rest of time, for both fans, critics and even for those who may not like them. It's just way cool seeing David Coverdale age and still be the sex symbol he was decades ago. Every note of the song, every move of the band, I insinst, took fans back to 1988. A perfect song played by top-notch musicians. And they happen to be Whitesnake. If that wasn't enough, "Give Me All Your Love Tonight", another classic hit single that hadn't been played for ages, came next. It really felt like a dream. If you're a fan who lived this era you'll certainly agree this setlist was beyond perfect. As for those who think Whitesnake was just another regular 80's hair band, I'll tell you what... You should be really sorry for yourself!!!!
No, it wasn't over yet. Just like it had always been to me, it was the most expected moment of the night, at least, for me... My favorite Whitesnake song, the classic ballad "Here I Go Again" was played. It's curious what the power of a song can do to one person in a lifetime. But I guess "Here I Go Again" has got the same impact it's got on me on millions of other people too. It still brings me to tears, till this day. On this specific day, I think it was more magical than it had always been to me. Remember, we're talking about a show that took a crowd back to 1988. My favorite Whitesnake song ever and the best Whitesnake show I had been to... Hard to describe the feeling.
And, of course, the end of this "dream show" was coming to its end when the classic "Still Of The Night" started. No matter if David was has the same pipes or not, a true, diehard Whitesnake fan can't help but bursting into tears when this epic tune is played. Mr. Coverdale, with or without his trademark voice, will always be Mr. Coverdale. And to be honest, fans love him either way. Fans love Whitesnake either way. The "Grand Finale" was their rendition of the classic Deep Purple classic "Burn", that is on their last "The Purple Album". No matter if one digs either the 70's Whitesnake or the 80's Whitesnake, no one can deny it's such a great, classic song that, without a doubt, should be on the setlist. When it was over, the band said goodbye and the playback ending of "We Wish You Well" was the closing of a great night. I dare to say it was one of the best shows I have ever been to.
Curiously, Whitesnake played nothing off their great "Forevermore" album. It would have been great to have heard a couple of songs from that one. And I can say that they only broke the promise of delivering a perfect Greatest Hits show for not including the fantastic "Now You're Gone"... Just kidding, as far as I know, Whitesnake never played it live.
Letting alone the kidding part, Whitesnake delivered a perfect set, from the chosen setlist to the fantastic musicians. And let's not forget there was David Coverdale. Mr. Coverdale himself is a private part of any Whitesnake show. Still having the voice or not, Coverdale will always be Coverdale. He really stands for what he believed in: "Be well, be happy, and don't let anyone make you afraid." That's his motto. Don't you ever worry, Mr. Coverdale... We're all with you. We Wish You Well...