As far as this summer’s double bills go, on paper this was the one not to be missed. But would it deliver the goods? From the crowd response alone, that would be a resounding Yes!
It’s been a few years since I last saw WHITESNAKE, but David Coverdale hasn’t missed a step. Still the consummate rock star, the years have proven to be good to him. He looked like a million bucks, and his voice was in fine shape. I always enjoy Doug Aldrich, so along with Reb Beach this ‘Snake line-up results in a winning combination of flash and substance.
While the repertoire was very US friendly, culling heavily from the “Big 3” Geffen albums/videos, it would’ve been nice if they’d have tailored the set list more to the audience at hand. Being mostly NWOBHM diehards, the band could’ve safely gone into some deeper cuts, ie: “Love Hunter”, “Ready An’ Willing” or even a nod to PURPLE ala “Highball Shooter” or “Lay Down Stay Down”; any of which would’ve made for a definite showstopper. (Well, a boy can dream…) That aside, the crowd seemed to really enjoy themselves, with the exception of the early 10 minute guitar duel. While technically impressive, it really killed the pace of the show and required a few songs just to recover. Even paring it in half and giving us an extra song would work. But if I’m nitpicking it must mean that they left me wanting more, which is always how it should be. Kudos to David for delivering once again!
And now onto the main attraction, JUDAS PRIEST. This year’s twist was a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the classic “British Steel” album to be played in its entirety. The minimalist staging and the early lowered lighting rig gave the illusion of being in a club circa 1979. Intimate and effective. But it’s the songs that everyone came for. When, if ever, did you hear “Rapid Fire”, “The Rage” or “Steeler” live? I can’t say that I ever have. And that alone was worth the price of admission. Dumb luck the radio staples (“Living After Midnight” and “Breaking The Law”) happened to be spread out amongst the obscure, keeping the casual fan’s attention while the band methodically stalked its way through the album, track by track.
Now, I understand some of these tunes haven’t been done in 30 years, but I would’ve liked a little more subtly with the teleprompter. Still, Rob Halford sounded fantastic and eventually wandered out front to roam the stage and engage the fans. And while some “British Steel” songs work better live than others, as a whole the evening was a glorious triumph. Perhaps even more effective than last years “Nostradamus” production (“Prophecy” being its only accounting.)
But the show’s actual highlight was the immortal “Victim Of Changes”. Ending on the proverbial “high note”, the band quickly returned (with motorcycle) to encore with personal favorite “Freewheel Burning” before launching into the classic full band/electric arrangement of “Diamonds and Rust”. Tried and true “Another Thing Coming” capped off the festivities, leaving the now sweaty and inebriated audience blissfully exhausted and ready for the drive home.
It's great to see time-honored bands taking up this refreshing concept of full albums live. (AEROSMITH is currently out promising “Toys In The Attic”) Let’s say we do it again next summer with “Hell Bent For Leather”?