Whitesnake - Live in Oklahoma

07/12/13 at First Council Casino in Newkirk, Oklahoma
07/13/13 at Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Oklahoma

Set List both Nights
Give Me All Your Love | Ready an’ Willing | Can You Hear the Wind Blow| Don’t Break My Heart Again| Is This Love| Gambler| Love Will Set You Free | Pistols at Dawn | Steal Your Heart Away | Forevermore| Best Years | Bad Boys| Children of the Night | Here I Go Again | Still of the Night

Classic Rock Revisited attended back-to-back concerts by Whitesnake in Oklahoma, as the band kicked off their 2013 tour of the United States.   The two days proved to be interesting in many ways, from set lists omissions to the difference a loud audience can make on a band’s performance.

Let’s start with the set list, which at only 13 songs was a bit of a disappointment.  It must be said that the band played well—very well—in Concho, Oklahoma, they played their asses off.  That said, this was a Whitesnake concert that only saw one song from their classic Slide It In album, while two were performed from the lesser known Good to be Bad, released in 2008. Just to hammer this point home, consider that the following songs were left off the set list: “Slide it In,” “Slow an’ Easy,” “Love Ain’t No Stranger,” “Fool For Your Loving” and “Crying in the Rain.”  As a testament to the band, the show was still loud and rocking despite some of Whitesnake’s best not being performed.  

On the other side of the set list coin, however, are some songs that one would never have expected to see played including the title track to 1980’s Ready an’ Willing and “Can You Hear the Wind Blow” from 1981’s Come an’ Get It.  Add to that the song “Gambler” from Slide It In and the rarely played “Children of the Night” from Whitesnake and you get some cool additions to the concert. 

At the end of the day, the rarities, including “Best Years” and “Can You Hear the Wind Blow” from Good to Be Bad proved too much for the American Whitesnake fan who grew up on the three classic tunes from Slide It In mentioned earlier.  When the lights came up both nights and there was no encore, and none of the aforementioned songs were played, many hardcore fans were upset, while many casual fans were left scratching their heads, not realizing that many of the tunes that they heard were rare gems.  It was a bold move by David Coverdale not to sing many of the band’s biggest hits, but it was a move that hurt the show and disappointed some of the audience. 

Both nights, however, Coverdale was in fine voice and gave, as usual, a spirited performance as the evenings emcee.  In Newkirk, Oklahoma, however, he was visually irritated by many fans sitting upfront who chose to text on their cell phones instead of paying attention to the band. The mood was already hampered by the venue having a fair amount of empty seats and a crowd that was, at times, less than enthusiastic.  Sure, they cheered and sang along but the energy in the event center never went over the top, as one would expect at a Whitesnake show.  It was a good outing, just not a great one. 

The next night In Concho, Oklahoma the band were more energetic and the atmosphere was much more rock concert like.  The crowd was larger and more vocal and the band, and Coverdale, ate it up.  David came onstage with the usual, “Oklahoma!  It’s hot!” style stuff that most bands do during this time of year.  Soon enough, he appeared to be enjoying himself.  Someone threw what looked like the biggest pair of panties onstage in front of Coverdale.  He picked the pile up and it turned out to be a bunch of Whitesnake T-shirts.  He actually got ahold of a Sharpie and autographed them on stage.  As soon as he was done he was pelted with another shirt, thrown from the audience.  He picked up the shirt, looked at the crowd and screamed, “WHAT THE FUCK?!”  and then autographed it with a smile. 

Later in the evening, between songs, he suddenly looked down at the floor of the stage and yelled, “What the fuck is that?”  He instructed the camera man to “quit searching for his penis” and get a shot of it.  It was a true Oklahoma-sized cockroach.  Coverdale exclaimed it was so big they should put a ‘W’ on it!  He would not kill the bug and was concerned about its safety.  The show was stopped until bassist Michael Devin reached down and picked it up and pretended to put it in his mouth.  Coverdale freaked and yelled into the microphone, “Michael Devin just ate a fucking bug!”  before realizing he still had it and was allowing it to crawl on him.  The crowd loved it and laughed along.  This was David Coverdale, the ultimate front man having fun and making this a true “you never know what’s going to happen” rock concert moment. 

His attitude rubbed off on the band, just as the crowd’s attitude rubbed off on him.  This was an energetic performance where everything was just kicked up a notch or two from the previous night.  Even the guitar duel between the talented axe masters Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach, “Pistols at Dawn,” was edgier, grittier and nastier than the night before. 

When “Here I Go Again” was played, in both venues,  the crowd were on their feet singing every note.  New songs were enjoyed as much as the classics.  The title track to their latest album, 2011’s Forevermore is an epic tune that starts soft and gets loud.  Aldrich is a rock star on the songs solo.  Other songs from Forevermore, “Steal Your Heart Away” and “Love Will Set You Free” went down very well, as both tunes should have been FM radio hits upon the album’s release, and if this were 1988, would have been Top 10 smashes. The new songs played truly deserve to be heard as Whitesnake fans need to know that Coverdale, along with his writing partner Doug Aldrich, are still kicking ass and taking names when it comes to crafting amazing rock songs. 

A highlight of both shows was the drum solo performed by the iconic drummer Tommy Aldridge.  Tommy, who spent time in Whitesnake during the band’s heyday, is back in the group once again and his live drumming style just fits right in with the rock star vibe that is a Whitesnake concert. Tommy, other than some lines on his face, looks the same…same build and same frizzy hairdo.  Those who know who he is totally appreciated both his physical presence and what he brought to the show.  There is nothing bad to say about Tommy, as he brought it home during both performances.

At the end of the day, Whitesnake is a great live band.  David Coverdale can still hash out the songs.  His vocals are gruffer at times but this is not easy stuff to sing, and the man is well into his 60’s.  He may have forsaken a few of the high notes to get safely through the show but he delivered when he needed to, as in the huge scream in the epic tune “Still of the Night,” a song that truly ended both concerts with a bang! Coverdale is a thoroughbred and will accept nothing less than giving everything he’s got, every time he takes the stage. 

The band backing him up is one of the loudest and hardest rocking group of musicians blazing the rock trail today.  Whitesnake, as performers may not be capable of delivering a bad show. The guitar tandem of Beach and Aldrich is scary good.  When Reb Beach is the second lead guitarist in a band that’s saying something.  Any hard rock band would be honored to have either Beach or Aldrich as their guitarist and together, as a team, there are damn near unbeatable. 

So, there ya have it, two nights, two Whitesnake concerts, two different results.  Both shows featured a true rock icon at center stage and a fantastic band backing him up.  Both nights featured some highlights, some shudda been played songs that were left out and some classic ones that one can’t wait to hear again. 

The bottom line here is that Whitesnake are performing well and cranking it up to eleven every time they take the stage.  And they should be, as, after all, this is the Year of the Snake.