Rockin’ Ruth Eckerd Hall with Whitesnake

By on August 12, 2015
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David Coverdale ( Photo – Travis Failey )

Whitesnake came to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on a beautiful Thursday night in support of its recent release, Purple. You may ask yourself, why would a band name an album Purple? Well the answer for that would be fairly simple as Purple contains songs from the time that Whitesnake’s lead singer, David Coverdale, spent with the legendary band, Deep Purple.

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John Corabi ( Photo – Travis Failey )

It was a night of multiple super groups as Whitesnake’s current lineup showcased former Winger guitarist, Reb Beach, and drummer, Tommy Aldridge, and tonight’s opening band, The Dead Daisies, also brought with them a few familiar names. These included former Guns and Roses keyboard player, Dizzy Reed, and Marco Mendoza from Thin Lizzy, and most notably, vocalist, John Corabi, who recorded and toured with Motley Crue.

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Dead Daisies ( Photo – Travis Failey )

The Dead Daisies got the night started promptly at 8 pm in the theater-like setting inside Ruth Eckerd Hall. They run a very tight ship at Ruth Eckerd and the staff are always pleasant and go out of their way to assist you. Another great thing about the venue is the sound. You know walking in that no matter who is performing, that audibly it will be top notch and when you have two bands with veteran musicians, you just know that you will be in for a great night of music.

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Richard Fortus ( Photo – Travis Failey )

The Dead Daisies, out in support of their sophomore effort, “Revolución,” opened with the album’s first single, “Mexico.” Even though a majority of the fans in the crowd were unfamiliar with the song, it didn’t take long for Corabi and his band mates to win them over. John Corabi is a showman and he brings with him a voice full of heart, harmony, power and soul and he incorporated the dancing women in the front row throughout their set. The Dead Daisies set included some rare cover tunes from the early seventies in Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil is Goin’ On” and “Hush” from Joe South, but made famous by Deep Purple.

The Dead Daisies received the biggest response from the crowd when they performed “Helter Skelter” more in the vein of the Beatles then in the remake by Motley Crue, as their set finale. After they left the stage, The Dead Daisies continued interacting with the crowd by doing an immediate meet and greet at their merchandise tent with the fans right after the show. Meet and greets are rare with a bunch of veteran musicians, but it’s almost a must-do these days due to the state of the industry. It seemed life half of the packed house waited in the meet and greet line that moved quickly and the band took pictures with the fans and sold a good amount of merchandise.

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John Corabi ( Photo – Travis Failey )

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David Coverdale ( Photo – Travis Failey )

The set change time between bands went quickly due to the meet and greet. Prior to Whitesnake coming on, I didn’t know what to expect, especially from David Coverdale. I’ve seen most bands from their era but tonight would be my first seeing any version of Whitesnake. As the band took the stage Whitesnake opened with the Deep Purple classic “Burn.” The 7 minute opus was a perfect beginning for Whitesnake’s set: the fans were familiar with it and primed them for a ride in a musical time machine. My first two impressions during “Burn” was that Coverdale looked great. The 63 year-old vocalist looked like he hadn’t aged in years. And vocally, he was impressive and surprising. To keep the pace and the fans intensity elevated, Whitesnake played two of their radio hits in “Slide It In” and “Fool For Your Loving.” Between the songs, Coverdale expressed how voluptuous some of the women were in the crowd and this was a topic that came up a few times by him throughout the night. He had good reason though as the crowd was rambunctious, the women were dressed to impressed and both the men and the women were partying like rock stars.

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Joel Hoekstra ( Photo – Travis Failey )

Whitesnake’s next tracks would include songs from Deep Purple and Whitesnake. They mixed them together well. A lot of people in the crowd didn’t respond to the Deep Purple song “The Gypsy” but Whitesnake reeled them back in by playing “Give Me all You Love.” Three of the next four songs would be from the Purple album, combined with multiple solos. Drummer Tommy Aldridge slammed the skins, not only with his sticks, but with his hands like bongos, and the cymbals with fists like hammers. This made the drum solo memorable as was the harmonica/bass solo from Michael Devin.

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There were also two distinctly different guitar solos by Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra. Beach is a Berkeley grad and a former member of Dokken, Alice Cooper and Winger and he played a solo that would make Richie Blackmore proud. Joel Hoekstra is the whole package: flair, style and substance. He played up to the crowd, and the women were pushing each other to get closer to him as Hoekstra played on one knee at the edge of the stage. I’m not sure why the band played so many solos. Four solos seemed to be a bit excessive, when most fans (in my experience) prefer songs over solos.

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Reb Beach & Joel Hoekstra ( Photo – Travis Failey )

After Aldridge finished his drum solo, The Deep Purple portion of the set came to an end. The four person harmonies, especially during the “Purple” songs, were amazing. Coverdale was channeling his soulful style throughout, and like John Corabi earlier, he turned to the front row and led a massive sing-along during the Whitesnake hits, “Is This Love,” “Bad Boys” and “Here I Go Again.” In case you were wondering, yes, Coverdale hit The high note during the song. Whitesnake left the stage, but returned after a short break, to play their biggest hit, “Still of The Night,” for the encore.

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I can’t say enough about Whitesnake’s and The Dead Daisies’ vocalists. Corabi and Coverdale put on one hell of a show, not only incorporating the crowd, but their vocals were outstanding. Yes, they are veterans and should be outstanding, but as many of us know all too well, a lot of the 80’s front men today just go through the motions and cash the check. But I believe that these two artists do it not only for the funds, but mainly for the fans. Corabi and Coverdale posed throughout the show so that fans could take their pictures with their cell phones and it never effected their performance. They also knew when to let their accomplished band mates take center stage.

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David Coverdale ( Photo – Travis Failey )

The Purple Tour featuring Whitesnake and The Dead Daisies at Ruth Eckerd Hall was a journey back to a time in the 70’s where the music mattered, and into the 80’s of hair and flair. It was a night of quality music, fun songs, smiles and even a few pairs of spandex.

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John Corabi ( Photo – Travis Failey )

For more on Whitesnake visit: http://www.whitesnake.com/news.php

For complete setlists see:

Dead Daisies: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-dead-daisies/2015/ruth-eckerd-hall-clearwater-fl-63f646f3.html

Whitesnake: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/whitesnake/2015/ruth-eckerd-hall-clearwater-fl-6bf64626.html

More Photos By Travis Failey

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Tommy Aldridge ( Photo – Travis Failey )

Joel Hoekstra 01

Joel Hoekstra ( Photo – Travis Failey )

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David Coverdale ( Photo – Travis Failey )

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Michele Luppi ( Photo – Travis Failey )

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John Corabi ( Photo – Travis Failey )

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David Coverdale ( Photo – Travis Failey )

 

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Joel Hoekstra ( Photo – Travis Failey )

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