Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

DVD: Whitesnake ~ Live: In the Still of the Night

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock, blues-rock
Label: Hip-O
Year: 2006
Home: n/a

Concert location: Hammersmith Apollo, London, England
Year Recorded: 2004
Length: under 2 hours
Bonus Features: behind the scenes documentary; photo gallery

Members: David Coverdale ~ vocals
Doug Aldrich, Reb Beach ~ guitars/b. vocals
Timothy Drury ~ keyboards
Marco Mendoza ~ bass
Tommy Aldridge ~ drums


I've loved David Coverdale ever since I can remember, or at least since my earliest MTV watching days. His voice always stood out for me from so many other bands. I even picked up his late career solo album & I think Coverdale/Page might be one of the best both of those guys have done. I've even gone back to his Deep Purple days, though I'm a Blackmore fan so that's a given. Yet, there's still some albums I haven't heard & the early bluesy post-Deep Purple Whitesnake isn't my cup of tea, but where the music lacks I always enjoy his voice. Whitesnake has gone through numerous line-ups over the years, even at one point including Steve Vai, with the current line-up continuing to hold the torch high. Two of the members have been around since 1989, but the rest are all new boys. Though, boys is the wrong word. Unlike Alice Cooper whose filled his band with extremely young bucks & now gals, Coverdale brings in some well-trained old hats whose combined resume includes Pat Travers, Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhoads, Thin Lizzy, the Michael Schenker Group, John Sykes, Winger, Alice Cooper & even Don Henley, amongst countless others. There's a bonus to not having a too young back-up group as it takes the focus away from the fact that the frontman has gotten old. This new band has also managed to put their stamp on the old classics, here including Deep Purple's "Burn" & a refrain from "Stormbringer", let alone reaching back to the bluesy roots of the band. It's interesting to note how many of Coverdale's hair metal peers have found a new footing doing basic blues-rock. Coverdale has gone from a big-hair girls-on-cars MTV sex idol to a British elder gentleman of rock, still sexy even if looking a bit wrinkled from the California sun ... & there's more than an occassional or accidental groin shot in the video to show he's not given up on that image of himself, let alone overly excessive microphone stand stroking. He also puts as much energy has he can into his live show as if he's not going to let his age stand in his way. But, watching him today there's something different. The music is great, he basically sounds good though its obvious his voice has changed, the classic 80's hits are as great as ever & shown their legacy is not unfounded, the current incarnation of Whitesnake Coverdale is not going to let go of soon if he can help it ... but, something is different & its in Coverdale himself that the change is obvious. Watching him do "Is This Love" & then stopping to watch the original video it all becomes obvious what the problem is - this Coverdale is an imposter. That's right. It's not him. It can't be. No ... not really, but the changes abound & its hard to reconcile the elder statesman on this stage with the once MTV icon. He's changed that much. Besides his new look & his aging face, though he's still in great physical condition as he goes around with his shirt open, his voice has changed quite a lot. Coverdale basically has two voices - a screaming Robert Plant-esque falsetto & a deep sexy baritone, here obvious in "Sweet Satisfaction" that demonstrates both with abandon. He used the baritone to absolute finese with Coverdale/Page & that's the voice I like. That hasn't changed, though I wish he'd use it far more as its stronger & more distinctive. His falsetto has changed. It's shrunk down in its ranged & watching him singing it often feels like he's struggling to sing the notes or tryihg to sing them with clenched teeth. Its not until watching the old videos that it's obvious he's also singing some of the lower songs in his deep voice much more than they were originally recorded. I hate to say he's lost his voice, but he doesn't have the smoothness he used to have. I actually saw Whitesnake with this line-up in concert a couple years ago promoting their new Forevermore album. I was shocked just how much backing vocals were used, something he's been heavily criticized for, that would often drown out his voice. I hate to say that this, amongst some other things, made for the live experience less than I'd hoped for & I'd say stick to the DVD. As for the band, they again deserve mention ... as they're so good they very well mike pull the attention away from Coverdale. Lead guitarist Doug Aldrich has a fingering technique that should be on everyone's top ten list of best guitarists, let alone studied by every guitarist. His sans band guitar solo will make you sweat after only a minute due to its fury, leading into "Crying In The Rain" that is sadly disrupted by a drum solo ... but at least Coverdale lets everyone in the band have their moment to showoff, even if he has to take one of the hits that everyone knows to do it with. I also have to give kudos to his other guitarist Reb Beach, formerly of Winger, who seems to always get lost in discussions. In this DVD Aldrich takes most of the solos, but in the live show I saw the pair had a very prolonged guitar battle. I actually walked out being far more interested in Beach's interesting melodic choices & its only now that I get to see Aldrich. Also of note, live I was mesmerized by bassist Marco Mendoza. Killer playing. Sadly, Mendoza & drummer Tommy Aldridge have been with Whitesnake the longest, but I neither live nor watching this could I tell you a thing about Aldridge or keyboardist Timothy Drury. It's interesting how your ears catch certain things. I mentioned that my live experience, sans re-discovering Reb Beach, was less than stellar. Most of that has to do with Coverdale's desire to talk & talk & talk in this seemingly put-on cockny accent ... for a guy that's lived in America for half his career ... with a lot of bad jokes & sexual innuendos. The banter is chopped down to the minimal here, or maybe edited out. The audience groaned at my show as he flirted with women in the audience then pointed out his wife in the balcony. It's almost as if he's trying to create a character, while it leaves one wondering what he's really like. One may forget that during the 90's Whitesnake dropped off the charts & for awhile didn't exist & Coverdale struggled, even going back to his natural brown hair & cutting it short for his solo album. Coverdale/Page was a comeback in the full sense of the word, cut prematurely short when the Robert Plant comparisons came to the fore. The fact is that Coverdale doesn't need to be anything. Is is truly a survivor of the music industry. One can't help wonder if Coverdale isn't as confident as he puts it out there. Though, there is one great line between some early songs as he takes some flowers from the audience, from a woman whose obviously been his fan for decades: "More fucking flowers, does that mean I have to have my legs in the air all night? But I don't have a vase do I?" Reading note "'Thank you for your voice & your music.' Thank you very much. Thank you for your tits. Most inspiring I assure you. No, they are, they are." It's interesting to think that once upon a time Coverdale was considered a Robert Plant imitator. There's no comparison anymore. Actually, Whitesnake is doing the music that I expected Plant to do, particularly following his Calling All Nations, not the moody blues & folk that I've lost interest in. There's little that would not make this DVD a recommendation. It's also hard to begrudge the set-list, as its a broad swipe from his full career, not just focusing on the hits. He gives the Brits a touch of a lot, while for Americans we'll get the hits. As for the unfamiliar songs, its such a high octane concert one will never get bored. If there's any problem its with the cinematography. Too much bouncing around, cutting back & forth. It's hard to focus, but that's the way video work goes now. What's worse is that there's also an occasional bounce to a shot in black & white. It's not necessary, let alone distracting. Coverdale might have had gimmicky videos with girls - no girls in the live show interestingly enough - but the songs have withstood the test of time & don't need any gimmick. Coverdale could pull out acoustic renditions with lights on full & band sitting down & I think the show would still be great. Maybe he will someday, everyone else has. So, jumping around with black & white cuts to create a flashy experience is not necessary. Bonus features include a behind-the-scenes documentary & a photo gallery. The DVD was also released in a DVD/CD set, with an abridged concert of only an hour on the CD.

Track listing: Burn/Stormbringer/Burn
Bad Boys
Love Ain't No Stranger
Ready an' Willing
Is This Love
Give Me All Your Love Tonight
Judgement Day
Blues for My Love
Snake Dance
Cryin' in the Rain
Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City
Don't Break My Heart
Fool for Your Lovin'
Here I Go Again
Take Me with You
Still of the Night


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