Whitesnake : Live at Donnington 1990

by Trevor Portz
Staff Writer

Riding the wave of success from their latest release, Forevermore, David Coverdale and Co. are back with a new live album that celebrates both the band’s 30+ year history and ongoing presence. Oh wait, this isn’t new…this show was recorded way back in 1990. Nevermind that intro bit.

So it goes that this isn’t so much a new Whitesnake live record as it is a neat little piece of WS past. But that’s ok. Recorded during the tour in support of Slip of the Tongue, Live at Donington 1990 showcases the band at the end of their decade of huge popularity, celebrating the glitz and glamor that was eighties metal. Add to that the fact that this tour boasted the insane guitar pairing of Steve Vai and Adrian Vandenberg (arguably the finest duo the band ever had), and the result is perhaps the best live Whitesnake release since 1980’s Live… In the Heart of the City.

The set list covers everything one would expect from a mid-period Whitesnake show. In addition to the then-new Slip… material, we get the pre-metal, sex-heavy classics (“Slide It In,” and “Slow and Easy”) the band’s first major UK hit (“Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”), and, of course, MTV favorites “Is This Love,” “Here I Go Again,” and “Still of the Night.” While fans of the first two Coverdale solo LPs and bluesy early Whitesnake may feel the set is a bit too ’80s heavy, considering the impact both the self-titled record and Slip… had, it’s still a great celebration of the band at its popularity peak.

Musically, there is nothing to complain about. Vai and Vandenberg both exemplify ’80s shred excess, but both also understand the need to pull things back at times. Even the more blues-influenced songs retain their original vibes, which is surprising. Many shredders feel the need to replace every power chord and pentatonic with a flurry of sweeping arpeggios, but the V/V team keeps everything well balanced.

As painful as it is to say, the weakest link in the chain appears to be the main man himself, David Coverdale. His voice sounds very strained and worn, and while he manages to hit the notes and deliver a reasonably effective performance, one can’t help but notice a severe lack of power. Perhaps just tired from a long tour, it’s odd to hear David—who, at 59, still sounds fantastic—shell out such a thin performance. He should be commended for not touching up the entire vocal track, however, a sad trend amongst the metal elite. On a funny side note, it is hard not to laugh when a huge number of tracks are introduced with, “here’s a song for ya!” What else would the audience expect? Magic tricks?

This album just proves that even as the musicians get older, good music truly doesn’t age. It will be interesting to see if Whitesnake ’11 will carry the same power and pomp of Whitesnake ’90. If not, it’s great to have an official record of such an important hard rock/metal band at the top of its career.

Genre: Hard Rock

Band:
David Coverdale (v)
Steve Vai (g)
Adrian Vandenberg (g)
Rudy Sarzo (b)
Tommy Aldridge (d)

Track Listing:

1. Slip Of The Tongue
2. Slide It In
3. Judgement Day
4. Slow An Easy
5. Kitten’s Got Claws
6. Adagio For Strato
7. Flying Dutchman Boogie
8. Is This Love
9. Cheap An’ Nasty
10. Crying In The Rain (featuring Tommy Aldridge drum solo)
11. Fool For Your Loving
12. For The Love Of God
13. The Audience Is Listening
14. Here I Go Again
15. Bad Boys
16. Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City
17. Still Of The Night

Label: Frontiers Records

Website: http://www.whitesnake.com/

Hardrock Haven rating: 8.8/10

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