WHITESNAKE - Live, In The Flesh... & Blood

May 4, 2019, a year ago

Mark Gromen

gallery hard rock whitesnake

David Coverdale is on the road again, celebrating 40 years of Whitesnake (can that be right?) and supporting the Flesh & Blood album. Power of the internet, despite the release still a week away, five new cuts were aired. However, somewhat surprisingly, didn't include the best rocker, a rousing "Good To See You Again", which introduces the disc. Maybe after people get familiar with it? A Thursday night, Cov and the band stopped by the Xcite Center, inside Parx Casino, which is located on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Apart from the healthy sampling of as-yet-unreleased material, Coverdale opted to play precisely what most of the MILFs and soccer (grand)moms in the crowd had come to see/heard, everything lifted from either Slide It In (three songs) or the '87 eponymous CD (five tunes). Shame the entirety of his career, prior to MTV, is all but ignored on this continent. OK, "Here I Go Again" was originally part of Saints & Sinners, but in a radically different (i.e. bluesier) style than it's now performed. While old-timers, like myself, pine for an inclusion like "Fool For Your Loving" or "Don't Break My Heart Again", which would slot nicely alongside the vintage stuff (as well as current repertoire), some patrons were just as miffed by the absence of  "Cryin’ In The Rain". Never satisfied.

Word of warning to the ‘80s party animals, still going strong, Parx has a "rule" in the beer garden (and not just during the 40% reduced price happy hour) of only two drinks per hour. Even for a 10 oz. Bud Light! Mind you, this is a casino bar. Times they are a changin'. Might explain the lack of pre-gaming, in house. "Bad Boys" kicks off the evening, a three-prong ray of light, either side of drummer Tommy Aldridge, sweep the stage. Coverdale is wearing a multi-zipper pair of black pants (which look like a Whitesnake track suit, or trainer, as they say overseas). On a chain, dangling down his right leg, are an assortment of crucifixes and baubles of jewelry. David makes a foray to Joel Hoekstra's stage right and later, the blond hair guitarist meets up with his hat wearing six-string partner, Reb Beach. Purple lit "Slide It In" keeps the party going, as late arrivals to the sold out show fill in the few remaining empty seats.  

"Gonna Be Alright", is the first of the newbies, stage bathed in blue/aqua lights, but the band's wax seal logo prominently displayed. The polished, mid-tempo number has a vintage feel and sees Hoekstra venture to Reb's side of the stage. “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, like many others, sees David sing maybe 60% of the lyrics, crowd offering each chorus and anything else from the video tracks, as purple lights crisscross one another. Lots of yellow spotlights, as Coverdale repeatedly runs his hand through/ruffles his hair. He looks fit and exudes happiness, as there’s four part backing harmonies (two guitarists, bassist and keyboard player). The ageless Aldridge hammers out the red lit intro to “Hey You (You Make Me Rock)”, his mushroom domed perm/afro bouncing, in time, to the bluesy rhythm. There’s little time between songs, the band delivering one after the other, rapid fire. As the titular phrase is forcefully emphasized, come each chorus, Hoekstra displays some fanciful hammer-ons and towards the songs conclusion, a bit of slide guitar.

Syncopated beat of “Slow & Easy” leads to spontaneous audience clap-along. Joel returns to the slide, as red/yellow lights pulsate in time. As red/blue police lights rotate, and there’s the blare of a siren, as Coverdale says, “It’s the cops! Anybody holding? Pass it up here.” Cue the countrified “Trouble Is Your Middle Name”, the title repeated throughout, as Beach gets his first spotlight, trading licks with Hoekstra. The guitar duel ends with the two fretsters, together, center stage. Would have been better served by one additional song, but in lieu, during the extended guitar-only section (Hoekstra/Beach dual-solos), many went to refill their drink orders (no sales with the theater). Given the influx of 1500 concert-goers/non-gambling patrons, Parx should have stocked the pop-up bar, right outside the Xcite entrance, with more than two workers, and limited offerings.

Purple/yellow for first single, the upbeat, guitar oriented “Shut Up & Kiss Me”, which ends with Coevrdale feigning a big, maudlin buss, to the crowd. Some heft behind the Van Halen-ish “Get Up”. At one point, Joel fingered the guitar vertically, pick resting between his lips. His showcase is followed by a keyboard flourish, then Reb. Everyone takes a turn, ultimately ending with the string-benders back, center stage. The alternating exercise in musicianship leads to a full blow, old fashion drum solo, during which Aldridge dispensed with the sticks, using his hands, bongo style. "Get Up" is reprised, after Aldridge's handiwork, guitars trading leads, at the end. Introducing the band, Coverdale called Hoekstra, "Sex On Two Legs" (much to the guitarist's noticeable protests) and Pittsburgh native Beach, "Crowned Prince of Porno". 

Blue lights slowly cascade from above, for "Is This Love" ballad. When things return to rock, it's a purple hued "Give Me All Your Love, Covedale a masterful ring leader, directing the sing-along from both sides of the stage. Speaking of switching around, Reb and Joel exchange customary positions, on this one, Beach spotlighted, then flipping his pick to the fans. As the fans sing the chorus, Coverdale pretends to clean out his ears, faking that he can't hear anything, as he calls for greater volume/effort. The crowd response comes back, even stronger. "Here I Go Again" closes the proper set, a lovefest between band and audience, who continue to add their collective voice, as the guitarists briefly change sides, once again. Before too long, the Snake is back onstage, finishing off with blue lit "Still Of The Night". Search lights are trained on the crowd, circulating in random patterns. Coverdale offers up the first line and those assembled (unlike stadium shows, few have left early) complete the lyric.

Enjoy the new album (history dictates it will be a few years before the next one), as many of the tunes seem destined to be part of the live set, a realm where Whitesnake, especially cheeky frontman Coverdale, continue to thrive.

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