A couple of weeks ago, Pop Evil, Whitesnake & Judas Priest performed in Cincinnati’s newest outdoor arena, The PNC Pavillion. This new arena holds roughly 4,100 people, and for quite a while, I think the attendance was about half of that. It may have swelled to over 3,000 before the night was done, but the point I am making is that size of the crowd was absolutely abyssmal at best.
If you live in Cincinnati, and wonder why our fair city gets passed up for some shows, this is why. There is over 2.1 million people in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, and this is the largest crowd that we can offer for two of the biggest hard rock singers of all time? It is a shame really, and a big shame to all of the folks that didn’t show up, as they missed one hell of a show.
Pop Evil opened the show, and dished out a solid set of rock which included their tunes “Hero”, and “100 in a 55”. This was the second time I have seen Pop Evil live, and their set offered no surprises. The one thing I noticed is just how disjointed this band is. A couple of the guys in the band, lead singer Leigh Kakaty, and the bass player Matt Dirito have awesome stage prescence, but I can not say the same for the rest of the guys. They may sound good, but have very much energy. Guitarist Tony Greve had on an outfit that made him look more like Justin Timberlake than a hard rock guitarist. To make matters worse, he had on a t-shirt that said “No To Rock”. Me and my buddy Rick looked at each other with disbelief. These guys need a serious wardrobe check before the go on stage. I am not sure they are the right opening act for this tour. They sounded good, and helped to warm up the crowd for Whitesnake.
The last time Whitesnake played near Cincinnati, it was in Covington, KY, and it was with an even smaller crowd than the one at PNC Pavillion. This band must be the Rodney Dangerfield of hard rock acts, as they get no respect here. It has nothing to do with their performance, as the band was awesome.
They dished out all of the classic Whitesnake hits you would expect them to play, and also played a couple of new ones from last year’s excellent Good To Be Bad album. The amazing thing is David Coverdale still sounds great after all of these years. There were rumors that came out a couple of months ago that he was using tapes in their live set. I saw no evidence of that. Coverdale can still get it done. End of story!
Reb Beach and Doug Aldrich could be the best guitar tandem that Whitesnake has ever had, and considering the previous axemen this band has had (Vivian Campbell, John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg, and Steve Vai) that really is a testament to their incredible talent. Aldrich handles the daunting task of playing those amazing riffs laid down by Sykes and Vai, and does it well. Reb Beach complements his playing like no other. My only complaint was how the sound was mixed at PNC Pavillion. I was on the far right hand side of the stage, and had trouble hearing Reb’s solos. They weren’t as clear as Doug Aldrich’s. I believe this was a sound mixing issue, and no fault of Reb’s. Chris Frazier, the newest Whitesnake member is no slouch on the drums. I feared he would be able to match the work of Tommy Aldridge, and I was surprised by his playing. I still miss Aldridge’s bare handed drum solos, but nonetheless Frazier does a pretty good job on the skins. I loved Whitesnake’s set. I hope this isn’t the last time that I get to see them play.
After Whitesnake, I was practically fulfilled for the night, but I wasn’t about to leave, not when Judas Priest was about to take the stage. Some how some way, I managed to miss Judas Priest back in the 8o’s. I have seen Halford perform live, but never the band that made him famous. Lucky for me, Judas Priest was firing on all cylinders tonight. Rob Halford can still hit all of the notes, but I noticed that he tends to hump over and look down in order to do so. That was mildly disappointing, but I wouldn’t expect a singer of his age to be able to belt out the notes the way he does either, so I guess it is a trade off. KK Downing and Glen Tipton kept me fired up all night. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy watching guitar gods play live.
The one thing I didn’t like about Judas Priest’s set was their choice to perform all of British Steel. Don’t get me wrong, I like this album a lot, but some of the songs just didn’t need to be played live. They have such an incredible catalog of tunes, and there were quite a few that they could not play as a result of that decision. (On a side note, I heard some girls complaining after the show, that they didn’t play “Turbo Lover”. I got a kick out of that.) Towards the end of their show, of course Rob Halford came out and sang some songs seated on his motorcycle. No surprise there, but it was cool nonetheless.
Overall, it was a great night of rock played to a small crowd. The die-hard fans showed up! Where were you? !
If you get the chance to see Whitesnake and Judas Priest on tour, don’t miss them. You won’t be disappointed. This was easily the best show that I have seen this summer!
Check out the slideshow below for some of the pictures I took from the show!