The house lights rather abruptly were extinguished around 8:10 PM at the Entertainment Centre in Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario on Thursday July 2, 2015. Whitesnake, led by David Coverdale were soon to take the stage in this only Toronto area date of the band’s current Purple album tour in support of the latest Whitesnake output. Whitesnake released Purple in May 2015, an album of re-recorded Deep Purple tunes celebrating vocalist David Coverdale‘s tenure at the head of that classic rock outfit. After departing Deep Purple in the late 70’s David Coverdale formed Whitesnake and achieved commercial success during the 1980’s. Throughout the years, Whitesnake has had a variety of roster adjustments seeing many well-known players join and depart its ranks with Coverdale remaining the constant. The current Whitesnake consists of a collection of phenomenal, high-class, talented musicians alongside Coverdale with Tommy Aldridge (drums), Reb Beach (guitar), Michael Devin (bass/harmonica), Joel Hoekstra (guitar) and Michele Luppi (keyboards).
Deep Purple’s “Burn” got things rolling on a setlist that would turn out to be a great split between Purple material and Whitesnake‘s biggest hits. Throughout the presentation, Coverdale would periodically use the phrase “before you were born” as an introduction before Deep Purple songs to remind the audience of his advancing years. The running joke was simply one of several things that displayed Coverdale‘s enjoyment of being on stage. He was all smiles and extremely interactive with the audience slapping/shaking hands with those along the front of the stage as he prowled back and forth giving a good amount of attention to each side. At one point he even held up the show for a few seconds as he plucked a vinyl cover that I believe was Lovehunter from the outstretched hands waving it towards him and scrawled his signature across it for the fan.
Hoekstra (Night Ranger, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and Beach (Winger, Alice Cooper) both got their turn to display their guitar virtuoso during a back-to-back, tasteful in length (not a fan of overly long noodling sessions personally) guitar solos but veteran drummer Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne, Thin Lizzy) stole the show with his moment in the spotlight. His skin-pounding solo session saw him bash away for the first half as one would expect, but after tossing his sticks into the audience he continued the barrage using only his hands.
Having heard total horror stories of the condition of Coverdale‘s vocals I was apprehensive prior to attending this event. I’m now proud to say that he sounded great, maybe not like he did 20 years ago, but do you sound like you did 20 years ago? Days later some folks would complain that the crowd was not overly “into” the event, something I’ve come to understand is quite common at Casino Rama since many of the tickets are comped free to regular players. I couldn’t tell what was going on behind me as I stood on Joel Hoekstra‘s side at the front of the stage and who really cares. I was there for Whitesnake, not the crowd behind me and Whitesnake delivered on all cylinders! This snake still has a lot of venom, be warned!
SETLIST: “Burn”, “Slide It In”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “The Gypsy”, “Give Me All Your Love”, “You Keep On Moving”, “Forevermore”, “Mistreated”, “You Fool No One”, “Is This Love”, “Bad Boys”, “Here I Go Again” ENCORE: “Still Of The Night”
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