30 years ago today: Whitesnake slithers into Vancouver, upstages Mötley Crüe

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      Thirty years ago today--on October 16, 1987--Whitesnake opened for Mötley Crüe at the Pacific Coliseum. 

      That was six days after Whitesnake's radio remix of "Here I Go Again"--a song originally released on its 1982 Saints & Sinners album--hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

      You may also remember it from that video with Tawny Kitaen sprawled on the hood of a car.

      Anyway, Whitesnake blew the Crue away.

      Here's my review:


      A healthy-sized crowd of 12,000 packed the Pacific Coliseum last Friday (October 16) for a Mötley Crüe concert, but for a lot of people the main attraction was Whitesnake, the group that has lately taken over from Bon Jovi as the most popular hard rock/mainstream metal band around.

      Whitesnake is led by former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale, who earlier this year put together a veritable supergroup with former members of Quiet Riot (bassist Rudy Sarzo), Ozzy Osbourne (drummer Tommy Aldridge), Dio (guitarist Vivian Campbell), and Vandenberg (guitarist Adrian Vandenberg). The result is an incredibly talented hard rock quintet, and–as was evidenced last Friday–one that’s perfectly capable of blowing the more gimmick-oriented Motley boys right of the stage.

      Sporting a long black sequined cape and his lion’s mane of hair, Coverdale wasted no time getting the rock rolling. “Ere’s a song for ya!” he bellowed, and the band took off into “Bad Bad Boys”, a tune from their latest, self-titled LP.  Like Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation and Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet, the Whitesnake album was (mostly) recorded at Little Mountain Sound, which is fast becoming the place to make records for the world’s top mainstream metal acts. “Ninety percent of the music you’ll be hearing tonight we recorded in this city,” Coverdale told the crowd, “and no doubt we’ll be back.”

      The band raged through their number one single, “Here I Go Again”, as well as the heavily Zeppelin-influenced “Still of the Night”. Throughout their set, the more brain-dead in the crowd let off firecrackers–especially the scary kind that whistle through the air and explode when you least expect it. Some guy threw a smoke bomb onto the stage to create his own little effect during Vivian Campbell’s equally smoking guitar solo. And at one point Coverdale lectured the young rowdies at the foot of the stage about watching out for each other. “If somebody goes down”, he told them, “for Chrissakes help him up!”

      When their time was up, Whitesnake left the stage to wild applause, but the house lights quickly went up to extinguish any hope of an encore. The roadies went directly to work clearing Mötley Crüe’s tennis-court sized stage, which provided lots of room for bassist Nikki Sixx to roll around on. (Just like he does in the video, kids!)

      To their credit, Mötley Crüe are a pretty good kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll band, but apart from a fine drummer in Tommy Lee (who drives the band), they’re nothing fancy in the musicianship department. That’s probably why they rely so much on mindless macho bravado to rouse their fans. Unlike other metals band such as Whitesnake, Judas Priest, Scorpions, and AC/DC–who let their songs and solos do the talking–Mötley Crüe take the crotch-rock route, using the F-word to infinity, seeing who can chug the most Jack Daniels onstage, and generally bragging about how sleazy and slimy they are. The kids eat it up, of course, but it doesn’t say much for the group’s confidence in their own music.

      And talk about gimmicks! You’ve never seen anything like Tommy Lee’s drumkit, which is pushed in the front of the stage, lifted up, tilted left and right, and then spun completely around–with a buckled-in Lee hammering away at the skins all the while. The show also featured towers of flame that shoot up from tubes imbedded in the stage, and explosions galore. Most of the songs accompanying all the hoopla were taken from Mötley Crüe’s latest album, the cleverly titled Girls, Girls, Girls.