Stepping out of the hot Texas Summer into the cool oasis of the Verizon Theatre last Monday night, I was excited to see what was in store for this night’s double bill of 80’s hair band Whitesnake and the relatively new The Answer. I did not have much hope for a large crowd as the parking lot was pretty empty when I arrived. Nonetheless, I was ready to enjoy some rock-n-roll both new and old.
Having listened to their latest cd a few times, I wasn’t a total stranger to the opening band on this tour, The Answer. However, I was not fully prepared for their live set as it projected way more energy and pizazz than I got from the cd. Guitarist Paul Mahon’s guitar solo to get the evening rolling was magnificent and by the time lead singer Cormac Neeson sauntered onto the stage the full band was rocking out. Starting with “I Am What I Am” from the afore-mentioned cd, they blew the audience away with their style of hard blues-rock. They continued with “Spectacular” which was even harder and edgier before settling down a bit with another new song “Red”. Bassist Micky Waters had a fine intro solo to this one and he even knocked around a tambourine a bit before the song was over. Neeson mentioned that they almost didn’t make the show as they were being held up in customs over in Ireland but were fortunate and thankful to be with us this evening.
The anthem sounding “Gone Too Long” gave way to a very high spirited number, “Under the Sky” from their Rise album, during which we were treated to some wonderful harmonica, James Heatley’s awesome drumming, crunchy guitars and a full force finale that had the crowd moving. Neeson mentioned they had one more song to play but told everybody that when it was over “I’m going to march right up those stairs to the merchandise booth, not gonna lie – I want you to buy some shit, but I also want to drink a beer with each of you”. True to his word, as soon as the title track to Raise a Little Hell was over………….. he went right up the stairs to the lobby where he enthusiastically signed autographs and took pictures with every fan that waited in line. In the end, I came away with the hope that these guys made many more fans tonight and hope that we will see them again soon.
Touring in support of their most recent release, The Purple Album, Whitesnake came through Dallas for a stop at Verizon Theatre last Monday night. The Purple Album is a collection of David Coverdale-era Deep Purple songs and was released in early May. Not knowing what to expect in the way of a set list left me feeling a little uncertain as show time approached. Reaching way back into my memory of the early 80’s (it’s a little sketchy at best) my first thought is of Tawny Kitaen sliding around sexy all over the hood of that car, however; Whitesnake was so much more than one little video highlight. Beginning with their 1984 album Slide It In and continuing through the end of the 80s with Slip of The Tongue, Whitesnake were household names in the era of hard rocking hair bands.
Starting the night off with the first of many Deep Purple songs, “Burn”, David Coverdale and the boys displayed their considerable talents immediately. Coverdale’s voice was still strong as ever but he had plenty of help from other band members on backing vocals. Reb Beach turned in the first of many in-song solos during this one and I think that the crowd warmed up to him really quick. Also of note was the fine work of keyboardist Michele Luppi (pronounce more like Me Ki El) who played a mean Hammond organ sound in the first song. Diving into the first true Whitesnake song, “Slide It In”, I was immediately reminded of the many topless bars of my younger days. Coverdale’s age (63 now) is not evident here with his devilish good looks and infectious smile. At one point during the show he mentioned how cold it was in the venue and said “it’s so cold I can write checks with my nipples” – the audience roared with laughter. “Love Ain’t No Stranger” led the crowd into its first real sing a long moment with the synthesizers and cymbals leading the way. They kind of lost the crowd during another DP cover, “Gypsy”, only because it was very long and quite a bit slower than the others. I was starting to wish they had played all of the DP songs at once and got them out of the way because the bouncing back and forth was a little too odd.
Coverdale then mentioned it was “National No Panties Day” (not too sure about that one) so of course a pair went flying towards him during the next classic Whitesnake song “Give Me All Your Love”. Guitarist Joel Hoekstra finally got in to act with a beautiful acoustic intro to “Forevermore”, which was a nice change of pace from the rest of this evening’s songs. The following two Deep Purple songs were a long drawn out version of “Mistreated” and a vey spirited “You Fool No One” during which almost every member took a turn in the spotlight began by bassist Michael Devin’s harmonica intro and finished by sixty-five year old drummer Tommy Aldridge’s ferocious drum solo. The man is a modern marvel – with his ‘fro flying around he kind of looked like Animal from the Muppets – it began with the standard drumstick crash course that turned into a bare-fisted pounding of every piece of equipment in his kit. It was truly one of the highlights of the evening and the audience responded in kind.
Finishing off the main set with a flurry of Whitesnake songs, we enjoyed fantastic versions of “Is This Love” (slow and sexy like old times), “Bad Boys/Children of the Night” (the hardest rocking song of the night) during which Coverdale kept adding “… and bad girls” after every “bad boys” lyric and the set closing “Here I Go Again” with it’s unmistakable keyboard intro and Coverdale’s ever-present sharp voice. With the encouragement of the approximately 2,500 audience members, the band returned to the stage to go out in style with one of their most famous songs, “Still of the Night”. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how well David Coverdale’s voice has held up after all of these years and how well the crowd appreciated The Answer’s opening set. Being able to relive the 80’s hair metal band sound and being able to see new up and coming rock-n-roll bands never gets old.
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Photographs taken at Verizon Theater on June 22nd of 2015 –
Disclaimer: All photographs are copyright Paul Wilkins Photography and cannot be used/cropped/printed without the consent of the owner.
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