"This is how it's done..." Before anything else was performed on this beautiful June 26th, 2016 evening at the Maine State Pier (Portland, Maine) show of Whitford St. Holmes and Whitesnake, someone should have announced that class was in session and notes should be taken! Billed as Whitesnake's "Greatest Hits 2016" tour, it was evident that both bands on this bill were playing for keeps, despite having already proven time and again over the years that their resilience and talent were without dispute.
Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) and Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent) cut a sharp path as an opening band, playing a too short set of new material off their recent release "Reunion." Only four songs in and the crowd was treated to a medley of "day job" songs from both Aerosmith classics and Ted Nugent hits, including "Last Child", "Hey Baby", "Train Kept A-Rollin'" and "Stranglehold." Clearly, Derek St. Holmes has not lost a bit of his immense vocal talent and he and Brad were enjoying this trip as direct support of the powerful and energetic Whitesnake. If any in attendance weren't familiar with the Whitford St. Holmes band at the start, it was evident that more than a few new fans were made after all was said and done. Graciously, Brad and Derek met with fans as CD's and other items were signed and pictures were taken. Classy and very cool.
An admittedly early start for the band (around 7:00 pm), David Coverdale and his "Snakes" hit the stage with the super-charged "Bad Boys" from the seminal "Whitesnake" release from 1987. Word has it that a 30-year celebration tour might be happening for the album next year and I (for one) am hoping that this is true. Coverdale has made it clear from tonight's performance that his voice is mighty (still) and there is much, much more in the tank for this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame veteran. With the stellar Reb Beach in his band leader position, classic songs such as "Slide It In" and show closer "Still of the Night" were in the best hands possible. Joel Hoekstra (recently from Night Ranger and Trans-Siberian Orchestra) is a fluid, fleet-fingered wizard and the solos that he and Reb exchanged during "Sailing Ships/Judgement Day" were examples of how high the bar is being set by this band that Coverdale has hand-picked. Of course, the king of double-bass drumming, Tommy Aldridge, was as on-fire and perfect as ever. Michael Devin is an under-rated bass presence (in my opinion) and keyboardist Michele Luppi (has played with Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich, among others) was right in the pocket all night.
It is interesting with all the vocal prowess that David Coverdale has that he has surrounded himself with such stunning vocal talent in Reb Beach, Michael Devin and Michele Luppi. All were more than successful in keeping the depth of the varied setlist tonight in top shape. Having said that, it was a real joy to see how capable and fierce David Coverdale sounded tonight. He is not at all resting on his well-earned laurels and just phoning it in. Tonight, it was clear that he is still passionate and is appreciative of the vast legacy he has created with Whitesnake. My only wish was that the show could have gone on for a few more hours (deeper catalog) and that there would have been a bit more playful and creative crowd banter for which Coverdale is famous for. Before you knew it, the staccato-riffing of "Still of the Night" was ringing out and the ever famous closing words of "Be safe, be happy and don't let anyone make you afraid" ushered in the outro music of "We Wish You Well."
Bearing witness to the tight and sonically powerful show that was tonight's "Greatest Hits 2016" concert, I can only hope that there is much more to come from David Coverdale and his stellar crew. Not many artists/bands can boast near the level of talent such as was seen here on this stage in Portland, Maine tonight. Even more, quite a few could learn a thing or two from the professionalism and sheer passion that was seen. Thank you for your talent and your devotion to your craft, Mr. Coverdale. It is appreciated more than you know. Until next time (I hope)...