Live review and photos by Robert Cavuoto
Tuesday, June 21st at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair NJ
Whitesnake immediately set the bar high on Tuesday, June 21st at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair NJ for their Greatest Hits Tour!
The band was energetic and in touch with their audience’s desire to hear their hit songs while paying homage to their blues origin. The time-traveling experience covered the MTV video years from their three seminal albums; 1984’s Slide it In, 1987’s self-titled Whitesnake, and 1989’s Slip of the Tongue. Whitesnake remains a no-nonsense band and have one of the most charismatic frontmen – David Coverdale at the helm.
For this summer’s Greatest Hits Tour Whitesnake enlisted the hard rocking, blues band, Whitford/St. Holmes to open the shows. As you would have guessed, the band consists of Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford and Derek St Holmes of Ted Nugent’s band. Together they are a perfect combination and terrific touring companion for Whitesnake; a line-up designed to satisfy all fans. Whitford/St. Holmes have two CDs; their debut CD from 1981 and Reunion which came out earlier this month. With only 30 minutes to get the point across, the band played their hearts out and provided enough blues infused swagger to keep all the fans and guitarists in the audience happy.
Derek told me prior to the show that the he and Brad are soul mates, and both have a tremendous amount of respect for each other. It was clearly evident in their playing, almost telepathic at times when trading off licks and in a zone that not all guitar duos can ever achieve. They opened their set with “Shapes” and continue to crush the audience with a total of nine songs. The set list was heavily focused on their Reunion CD with smoking blues rockers like “Shake it,” “Rock All Day,” and “Hell is on Fire”. To keep the diehard Aerosmith and Nugent fans happy they provided a medley of “Last Child,” “Stranglehold,” and “Train Kept a Rollin’.” Derek’s voice is like a fine wine – getting better with age. The only problem was their set was it too short, I truly hope that they come around again soon as headliner.
Whitesnake hit the stage with a sense of fury and purpose opening with “Bad Boys” and dove directly into the MTV-fueled years with a smoldering version of “Slide it In.” Having two of rock’s strongest guitarists in the band, Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra are the icing on the cake that brought the songs to a new level. They also have an undeniable chemistry and style of playing which complements the songs and each other. When I asked Joel about their chemistry he told me; “I think we fit really well together and truth is that we really both love to play rhythm guitar. We get off on playing all the riffs tight, that’s really our strongest point as a guitar team.”
They each took center stage for their extended guitar solos and put on a searing pyrotechnic display using some of their extended arsenal of guitars. In the rhythm section is one of rocks best drummers, Tommy Aldridge and on bass was Michael Devin. Together they put an unflinching “beat down” on all the tunes allowing Joel and Reb to soar. It was awe inspiring to watch Tommy take on his drums and cymbals barehanded during his drum solo, even David looked impressed watching from the side of the stage.
David tireless strutted the stage with an air of confidence while whirling his mic stand. Decked out in blue jeans, snake skin Converse sneakers, and a Whitesnake shirt open to the naval he managed to use every inch of the stage. If there were ever any doubts about his vocal abilities he proved them wrong tonight as he pumped out song after song including the steel belted screams at the end of “Judgment Day” and “Here I Go Again.” David delivered what fans came for and then some as he drew the audience into the show and the music.
Again the spotlight was on the hits as they made their way from a soulful “Give Me All your Loving” to “The Deeper the Love” to “Fool for Your Loving” to “Love Aint No Stranger.” Personal favorite of the night was “Slow and Easy” with Joel on the slide guitar intro as it was the first song I heard from them and made me an instant fan! In all, 16 songs were played with the same sex appeal of when they were written in the 80s.
Fully understanding that this was Whitesnake’s Greatest Hits tour I still wish they would have snuck in Deep Purple’s “Burn,” the song that put David on the map.
The theater was loud; both bands looked great and gave outstanding performances. It’s always great to see bands like Whitesnake and Whitford/St. Holmes carrying on and continuing to cement their rock n roll legacy.