Flashback to 1999, Great White had just had their most successful time in quite a few years as they had finished the Poison Tour, did a co-headlining jaunt with Dokken and were about to end the year on a great note with a huge New Year’s Eve show in Yucaipa, CA. Just a few days prior something happened that changed the band’s course of history. Singer Jack Russell was involved in a car accident that left him with some cracked ribs, which in turn caused him not being able to perform as his usual self. But as Jack usually does, he sucked it up, went on with the scheduled performance and closed out 1999. Great White hasn’t been the same ever since. Sure the band had members come and go out of the band to try and carry on playing the great blues based rock that only they can play, but the “magic” has not been as evident as it was back then.
Fast forward to Wednesday evening at Braun’s Concert Cove in Akron, NY where the band featuring Mark Kendall on lead guitar and rhythm guitarist, keyboardist Michael Lardie took the stage. Longtime drummer Audie Desbrow and bassist Scott Snyder rounded out a solid rhythm section and former XYZ singer Terry Ilous was at the microphone. Opening with “Desert Moon” from Hooked, the band focused mostly on their basic hits such as “Save Your Love”, “Rock Me”, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and “House Of Broken Love”. The band is currently touring in support of their latest effort Elation, also Ilous’ first with Great White. From Elation the band played a pair of cuts as expected. As far as deeper cuts go “Lady Red Light” and “Big Goodbye” were dealt out to the faithful.
It was great to see Kendall play as he is one of the best live guitarists I have ever seen. Another highlight was watching drummer Audie Desbrow pound those skins as only he can. The band sounded good and seemed to be really enjoying themselves. But despite that the fans of Great White recently have been torn between two worlds. Some love the original version with Jack, some love this latest edition and some will say two versions of Great White are better than one or none. There is no knocking the job Terry has done. Ilous is a very capable singer and has done a decent job filling the vocalist role the only problem is he is not Jack Russell. Without Russell, “the voice” of Great White, the band seems to be missing something. The best analogy is when Van Halen had Gary Cherone sing for an album. His style did not fit the band and the whole thing proved to be a major letdown for the fans and among the critical reception most would say that era of Van Halen was the lowest point. If you took Robert Plant out of Led Zeppelin, how successful would they be? Does the song really remain the same?
Lady Red Light
Face The Day
(I’ve Got) Something For You
House Of Broken Love
Save Your Love
Back To The Rhythm
Can’t Shake It
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Special thanks to Melissa Kucirek and Ross Catalino for all their assistance in helping us cover the show.