Konocti Harbor, CA
Whitesnake had been touring the US with Scorpions and Dokken for most of the winter but this show was a one off in the remote Northern California wine country - an intimate show packed with superior moments and tight-fisted anthems. Dokken raised the bar when they loaded a tight, energetic performance into 40-minutes of headbanger romance. Now Dokken has become the bane of many a cruel joke but the truth is, they are working harder than ever before. As a band, they are whittled down to two original members, Don and drummer Mick Brown. However with the addition of a session bassist and an Italian whiz-kid guitarist, the thunder of Kiss of Death, Into The Fire and the magnificent Breaking the Chains rang out nice and loud through the California twilight. Don may be more biker than hair-metal God these days but his voice is still his greatest asset and when he locked in on the power ballad Alone Again he was without equal. Its Not Love, Tooth & Nail and Hollywood hit In My Dreams sealed the deal and made for a perfect segue way into Y&Ts show.
Local heroes (Bay area), Y&T came out of retirement last year with three of four original members leaping back into the spotlight. Their history is full and complex having carved out a niche first as Yesterday and Today before condensing it to only the initials. The band was a staple touring act in the 70s and 80s sharing the stage with Ozzy, Dio, Scorpions, AC/DC and the like even headlining over Motley Crue on their first night out. Tonight vocalist Dave Meniketti was all about reestablishing the band rightful ere to metals throne as he led the band through Black Tiger, Lipstick & Leather, Dirty Girl and Winds of Change.
The bands twin guitar assault raged through Knock You Out, Eyes Of A Stranger and Game Playin' Woman before settling into the MTV hit Summertime Girls. Mystic, melodic and blues-soaked I Believe In You got the crowd off their seats as Meniketti galvanized note after note in a warm embrace. Mean Streak, Forever and a ripping version of Rescue Me saw the sunset with chants for the band to play on carried away in a early spring breeze.
When the word went out over the wire that the mighty Whitesnake were returning to the stage after a 15 year hiatus, many were skeptical. Mr. Coverdale had kept himself pretty well hid in the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He himself had released several statements to the press stating that he was simplifying his life and making a conscious effort to stabilize 25 years of rock and roll excess. Then, shortly after last winters holiday season www.whitesnake.com released a voice message posted from Coverdale declaring that the mighty Snake was rising like an Arizona Phoenix to warn the winters solstice.
Four weeks later the triple bill of Germany legends, Scorpions, Coverdales Whitesnake and the enduring Dokken hit the road for eight weeks of retro-80s rock. The addition of Whitesnake certainly added intrigue as well as novelty to the line up. However, once inside the packed halls it was obvious that is was no rehashing of the Whitesnake monarch. This was a healthy, well-rehearsed, lethal viper, with a power unmatched by it previous incarnation.
In the fall of 1982 Whitesnake owned the Hammer Smith Oden. Their two sold out nights in Londons famed amphitheater were unparalleled save by Thin Lizzys 1976 tour. At the time the Whitesnake lineup consisted of blues giants Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden, bassist Neil Murray, Keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Cozy Powell all fronted by ex-Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale. The Northerner led his band on a relentless crusade through seven years of blues-rock that still echoes through the annals of Hammersmith history.
20 years present, when Whitesnake stormed the cold, windy stage of this Northern California community, a similar wail filled the air. Coverdale looked in better shape than he had in years ago. His sandy blonde main was fully grown reaching past his shoulders and framing his well-tanned and remarkably handsome face. When his voice bellowed out Welcome Ladies and Gentleman to the Whitesnake show it bounced off the surrounding hills with unmistakable power and rattled the bones. Notorious for an ever changing lineup the mighty Snake have returned with the strongest lineup since 1982 complete with Nugent/Thin Lizzy rhythm section bassist Marco Mendoza and drummer Tommy Aldridge joined by Hurricane/Dio guitarist Doug Aldrich and ex-Dokken axe man Reb Beach.
The set list burned through the best the Snake had to offer kicking off with Bad Boys, Cryin In The Rain, Give Me All Your Love and Here I Go Again. Aldrich looked comfortable with a steel slide in hand moving through Slide It In, the bluesy Slow and Easy and the blistering Love Aint No Stranger. Beach picked up sharp solos and catapulted them into the crowd like shards of steel. Mendoza peeled off his shirt in the sub-50-degree night and still managed a decent seat. Aldridge was perfect - on time and in sync and he kept his shirt on for the whole show a first!
By the time the band hit Judgment Day Coverdale had exceeded all expectations his voice was precise, full and unbelievably powerful. The smile that lit up his face was a true indication of how much fun he was having strutting out the old numbers for another lap around the track. But it was the immortal Still Of The Night that brought the show to its inevitable climax. An amalgamation of pristine rock bridging the 80s viper with the famed 70s Zeppelin counterpart made for a heroic stage show drenched in frenzied nostalgia. A Remarkable, remarkable evening.