When Whitesnake arrives in Tulsa for a two-night stand at River Spirit Event Center this coming Monday and Tuesday, it will be a first for many fans in attendance and a long awaited return for others. After all, many fans haven't had a chance to see the band since the early '90s, when it went on hiatus after dominating US airwaves and MTV with its self-titled 1987 release. Although the band has reformed a couple of times and toured consistently since 2002, it has never made a proper Tulsa stop since its return.
True, Coverdale and his current band headlined Rocklahoma in 2011, but it's been over 20 years since he brought the blues based hard rock machine to Tulsa. All that changes when Whitesnake makes amends with not one, but two shows at River Spirit Event Center on June 15 and 16.
Although David Coverdale first came into the public eye as the lead singer (with Glenn Hughes) in Deep Purple from 1973-76, his identity is firmly planted as the face and voice of Whitesnake, which he launched when Deep Purple disbanded following and difficult transition from Richie Blackmore's departure.
Initially based in the blues, Whitesnake had considerable success in the U.K., but didn't really make much headway in the U.S. until securing a record deal with Geffen and the 1984 release of Slide It In, which was based in a more blues oriented, '70s sound. After a delay marked by a serious sinus infection for Coverdale and a turnover on band personnel, the group exploded worldwide with the release of the Whitesnake album in 1987, as the band moved to a sleeker, more modern hard rock sound, which continued with Slip of the Tongue in 1989.
When asked if the transition was a conscious move or brought on by the record label, Coverdale recently shared "Pretty much most of what I do is 'conscious,' though there was a great deal of pressure from Geffen to maximize the incredible success we experienced with the 87 album. But to me, there's a difference between scratching your arse and tearing a lump out of it.
"As far as production sound was concerned, it was necessary to change and rethink my approach after I heard our earlier records on US FM radio," he continued. "They simply did not stand up sonically with other rock albums of the time. I was ready for a change, anyway. I had immense fun creating Whitesnake with the guys in the early chapters of the band, but we got to a certain point where I needed change... it's the nature of things."
Of course, part of that change has been a rotation of members and Coverdale has had opportunity to play with some amazing musicians over the years. During the band's MTV years, Coverdale recorded and played with an array of lauded guitarists, including John Sykes, Adrian Vandenburg, Vivian Campbell and Steve Vai. In the mid '90s, Ratt's Warren DiMartini even filled a role in the band. The current lineup, however, includes Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach on guitars, Michael Devin on bass and Tommy Aldrich returning on drums (as Brian Tichy recently departed to focus on his own project).
When asked about the evolution of the band and how each iteration has influenced the band's sound, Coverdale stated, "Everyone who has been in the band has brought something to the party and hopefully taken something with them afterwards.
"I invite people into Whitesnake that I feel can help me take Whitesnake to the next level," he explained. "Nobody is invited in to recreate a former member's style or approach. They're there because of who they are and because they're great players. Working with someone like Doug Aldrich is a blessing for me as we both share the same philosophy of pushing the envelope in all creative avenues."
When asked about the recent return of Tommy Aldridge, Coverdale said, "It's great having Tommy back in the driving seat. Pagey (Jimmy Page) saw us in London and said Tommy took it to a whole new level from the last time he'd seen us. I tend to agree: It's a great, kick ass band and I'm honored to be their singer."
For many fans, the band's 2011 release, Forevermore, brought the band full circle and back to its British blues roots. The corresponding worldwide tour even resulted in a pair of releases this past year, Made in Japan and Made in Britain.
When asked why he decided to release both in such close succession, Coverdale responded: "The DVD wasn't planned until very late last year, after we saw the footage from the Loudpark show we headlined in Tokyo. It was too good to simply let bits dribble out on the internet, so the accompanying CD I consider a soundtrack.
"The actual plan was for the Made in Britain CD to be accompanied by The World Record," he said. "The whole point is for anyone who experienced -- or sadly missed -- the 'Forevermore World Tour 2011:' Here it is in all its glory, both audio and visual, to relive the fun we had together. And make no mistake: we certainly have fun together, wherever we go."
Of course, there's always this Monday or Tuesday night at River Spirit Events Center, as well. It may not be the Forevermore tour, but you'll get to experience Whitesnake for yourself, and see that Coverdale hasn't missed a step and is still hitting all the notes.
If you remember the band from the days when you couldn't escape its hits on the radio or MTV, this is a show you'll want to be at. If you're a long time fan, however, it's a show that you absolutely won't want to miss as Coverdale brings the group in its full rocking glory to a venue that puts you right in the middle of the action. "Intimate" isn't the right word for this, as it won't be a touchy-feely night of ballads and acoustic fare -- although a few ballads will be included. With Whitesnake, the close quarters mean this will be an experience more than a concert -- and you'll be so close, you may well feel like part of the show.
A limited number of tickets are still available for each night at each price point and range from $40-$75. If you've ever loved Whitesnake, you'd better not miss them.
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