Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sometimes It's Better Not To Go Back - Rockin' Jones Beach With Whitesnake

This one was my fault, partly.  I saw Whitesnake in 2002 at the Nassau Coliseum on a dual headliner bill with Scorpions.  My memory of that one is being disappointed after getting myself fired up to relive some of my youth with 2 bands that I had seen numerous times in their heyday.

Fast forward to 2011 and it’s announced that Whitesnake, Tesla, Sebastian Bach, Lita Ford and Firehouse would be playing Jones Beach.  Upon first glance it looked like it had potential for a fun night out.  The show was going to be a day after my wedding anniversary and me and the wife, we still have a certain affinity for Tesla (she walked down the aisle to Love Song at our wedding) and I know that they still sound as good if not better than ever.  Even when it was announced that Lita Ford and Firehouse would not be performing, we were still sold on spending a night out with our memories.

The show was last night and while Tesla was just as good as I would have hoped, Whitesnake was worse than I thought, so with apologies to Sebastian Bach who we missed because it’s just too damn hard to get to Jones Beach by 7PM from Manhattan on a weeknight, here’s Whitesnake 2011 in my eyes:

9:15 Lights out, here they come.  What are they going to open with?  Bad Boys?  That’s always been a good opener - get the crowd going with a classic.  Nah, what the heck is this?  A new song!  That’s always good for a band whose heyday was in 1988.  “Best Years” (which I had to look up) comes off their 2008 release Good To Be Bad.  The crowd is looking around at each other.  A lot of "you know this one?" all around.

9:18 Man, David Coverdale looks terrible.  Someone call his plastic surgeon – his mouth doesn’t seem to open anymore!

9:20 Give Me All Your Love from 1987's smash album – a song everyone knows and also the first example that Mr. Coverdale’s voice isn’t very good anymore. 

9:22 A crowd sing along during the last chorus where the lack of crowd (there couldn’t be more than 3000 people in the 15000 seat venue) obviously annoyed Coverdale who implored the crowd to fulfill their end of the bargain.  A really weird scene – obviously the band practices these songs to include the breakdown but if the crowd isn’t into it, we shouldn’t have to go through 5 rounds of “let me hear you!”

9:30 Love Ain’t No Stranger – alright, here we go!  This one is from 1984’s Slide It In, the last album before Whitesnake became one of the 80’s biggest bands.  Unfortunately this was the only song from that album to make an appearance(c'mon - no Slow N Easy?  no Slide It In?), or maybe fortunately considering that Coverdale doesn’t even try to sing the signature “Love Ain’t No Stranger!” anymore during the chorus, instead relying on his other signature move for the first time tonight – pointing the microphone to the crowd to scream parts of songs that he cannot sing anymore.

9:35 Is This Love?  - How old is this guy?  At this point they should really pump the video for the song over the big screens so that we can watch Tawny Kitaen instead of having to watch close ups of DC preening. 

At this point, I’d like to point out that Coverdale’s onstage shtick is EXACTLY the same as it was in the 80’s.  Very pompous, cracking half-assed jokes that aren’t very funny but definitely coming from the same guy who dubbed the biggest tour that his band would ever play the Liquor and Poker Tour.  When I was 16 I thought he was one of the coolest dudes.  Now?  Notsomuch I guess.

9:40 – “We have a new album out!” Oh geez, here we go.

9:55 – The new songs are pretty bad but at least they’re written with his “new” vocal range in mind.  Thankfully that’s over.  Oh my lord.  Guitar Solo! 

Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach are the guitarists these days and both are very capable, good guitarists, but do we really need guitar solos today?  The first time I saw Whitesnake was in ’88 when Vivian Campbell and Adrian Vandenberg were slinging their axes and the setup for their “dueling solos” was almost identical to what we saw last night. 

10:05 – Guitar Duel over, they rip through another new song and go directly into……Drum Solo!  You have to be kidding. 

With the wife getting antsy, it’s getting harder to justify hanging around. 

10:15 – Deeper The Love – Coverdale is being helped a lot by the background vocals.  I’m pretty sure that there is a backing track helping his vocals out anyway.  A few times during this one he stopped singing to put his microphone in the crowd and it sure did sound like he was still singing.

10:20 – Bad Boys – Ow Ow Ow Owwwww!  - Is that the cry at the beginning of the song or is that the crowd wailing in misery?  Not sure yet.  There’s a slight Segway into Children of the Night here, but it doesn’t help.

10:25 Here I Go Again  - what do you do if the song that made you a star and the song that most people are here to hear is one that you have no business trying to sing anymore?  It’s a tough question, but one that Mr. Coverdale really needs to have someone close to him throw out there…

At this point, I’m out – I really have no idea what’s left, and I’m sure that Still of the Night is the encore (which was always my favorite) but the wife’s had it and I can’t even argue anymore after that last one.

10:30 – Anyone whose been to Jones Beach knows you can hear fine from the parking lot so when Still of The Night began as the one song encore I paused to hear how he was going to sound on a song where he’s mostly singing was no accompaniment.  30 seconds later I had my answer and said goodbye to Whitesnake.  Mr. Coverdale may want to consider doing the same.


  1. That's a shame.   Admittedly,  I have never been much of a Whitesnake guy.  I would have been there for Tesla and left after that.  But what you described is pathetic and a major ripoff of the fans.  

    Sounds like he knows damn well he can't pull it off anymore and he figured he'd piece together a show specifically to work around his shortcomings and just fill out the timeslot.   Guitar solos...dueling guitar solos which are carbon copies of the 1980's Whitesnake guitar solos?  Weak.    What amazes me is that they're on a massive world tour.  They're playing all over the world till December.    Wonder if his voice has been bad all tour long,  or if he simply has lost it from so many shows?  I mean,  the guy is 59 years old He'll be 60 in less than a month).   That's quite a challenge,  to belt out those kind of vocals every night,  at that age.   Thanks for the review,  Howie.  

  2. I really hope that his voice was the product of a long tour.  It's at least understandable.  I just have this feeling that it's not the case here.  There were definitely vocal tracks and the harmonies were worked out so that he was taking the lower parts.

    On a side note though - Tesla is great.  Always.  We never miss them when they're around and even though their setlist is largely acoustic on this tour, I'd recommend them to anyone. 

    Thanks for the comment Tony!