kevin statham photo
By Steve Newton
I never got to see David Coverdale sing “Burn” with Deep Purple–I wasn’t old enough to travel down to the Ontario Motor Speedway to see them coheadline California Jam with Emerson, Lake & Palmer back in ’74–so it was pretty cool to see him do it with Whitesnake at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver last night.
And seeing drum legend Tommy Aldridge slam everything into place was pretty sweet as well.
Whitesnake was performing the third show on its massive Purple Tour, which journeys across North America until August, heads over to Japan in October, scoots up to Europe in November, and then stops off in Ireland and England in December.
Coverdale sang lead for Deep Purple from 1973 to 1976, performing on the ’74 albums Burn and Stormbringer and 1975’s Come Taste the Band. The Purple Tour is Coverdale’s way of, depending how you look at it, paying tribute to/cashing in on his days as the frontman of one of the world’s greatest hard-rock acts.
The show started off strongly with “Burn”, which features one of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s coolest riffs ever. Between the two of them, guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra did an okay job of recreating the six-string fury of Blackmore, which is never an easy assignment.
And while it’s unlikely any drummer could bring the same swing that Ian Paice brought to the original track, the sheer ferocity of Aldridge’s attack on the skins added much to the song’s overall effect. He would prove to be Whitesnake’s most valuable instrumentalist, and ten songs later his extended drum solo–which included a bare-handed workout–would incite the crowd to start chanting his name.
Nobody chanted Coverdale’s name.
The 16-song set was equally divided, half Deep Purple songs and half Whitesnake songs, and the biggest crowd response went to the Whitesnake material, big radio hits like the power-ballad “Is This Love” and the Zeppelinesque encore “Still of the Night”.
There was not much love shown for Deep Purple tracks like “The Gypsy”, “Stormbringer”, and “You Keep On Moving”, which were not big radio hits–at least not in Vancouver, anyway.
As far as Coverdale’s vocals are concerned, he’s not doing bad for a 63-year-old. He knows when to hold back and not even try for those high notes he was hitting back in ’74.
Speaking of which, he sure could have used Glenn Hughes’ pipes on “You Fool No One”.
After the Whitesnake show I came across a Vancouver band called Aviator Shades that was playing next door at the casino’s Asylum Sound Stage, and they blew me away with their melodic, dual-lead guitar-rock thang. Serious Thin Lizzy-style action.
Check them out if you get a chance. They could be the next generation’s Whitesnake. Or, even better, Deep Purple.