July 17, 2009 – Although the weather for the second night of Moondance remained cold, the music scheduled for the evening promised to heat things up. A hard-hitting night of metal and melody was in order, with openers Zed Leppelin and Spin Doctors followed by headliners Lita Ford, Judas Priest, and Whitesnake. The crowd was slightly smaller in comparison to the previous evening, but still by 9:00 the grounds were packed with enough snake heads and metal heads to make your head spin, no pun intended. Starting out with some afternoon entertainment, Zed Leppelin is a tribute to classic Led Zeppelin. If the name didn’t give away their agenda to replicate the classic group in every way, their wigs certainly did. Although the band does a fine job musically, they tried too hard visually and ended up looking rather silly. A wide selection from the band’s catalog was covered, including all the songs you’d expect like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Dazed and Confused”. Singer Andy Lijewski doesn’t quite have the lungs or the looks of Robert Plant, but he certainly was convincing on stage.
Much more in the way of originality was in order for Spin Doctors, a band that used humor intentionally throughout their set and during the pre-show interview with Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited. The music was quality too, and the band sounded great playing it while sporting the same lineup and groove that they did in the very beginning. As a jam band that doesn’t quite fit the classic rock mold, the Spin Doctors didn’t bother to try and act the part of an old rock act. Instead they kept things lighthearted and fun, answering the question “How do you keep your music fresh” with “frequent bathing”, and asking a member of the audience to trade head garments. They aren’t your typical rock band, and that’s a refreshing quality. Everyone sang, or tried to sing with the band during “Two Princes“, and the Doctors left the stage with mutual appreciation for the crowd.
At 7:00, Lita Ford stepped out on stage to take back her title as the reigning queen of heavy metal. After a 12 year break from the music scene to raise a family, she has returned with a new tour and a new album is on the way. During her interview with Jeb prior to the performance, she revealed that it was her two sons who kicked things into motion by saying “Come on mom, you’re Lita, get out there and rock!” Both kids and husband Jim Gillette (of the band Nitro) stood on stage left while Lita sang and played as if no time had passed since her breakout 1988 record. She may not look as if she’s in her 20s any longer, but her sharp yet sultry voice hasn’t changed at all. She started out with a trio of rocking minor hits including “Hungry” and “Can’t Catch Me”, all while dressed to kill in a leopard coat. Halfway through the show, husband Jim came out to give several of the screams that he became known for while a member of the glam group Nitro. Later, Lita had a sea of fists in the air for “Kiss Me Deadly”; one finger up for the lyric ‘kiss me once’, two fingers for ‘kiss me twice’, and devil horns for the chorus ‘kiss me deadly’. Her backing group can’t be forgotten, either. Consisting of young and energetic players, this current incarnation of the Lita Ford band is definitely for keeps as she continues to play more shows. In essence, Lita provided the perfect lead-in to Whitesnake.
And how about Whitesnake, a band that has withstood the test of time and somehow manages to still be at the very top of their game. The stage set up was revealed over a half hour before the snakes emerged, leaving one very anxious and roaring crowd by the time the heavy guitar sounded and the band broke into the new single “Best Years“. It was literally an explosion of excitement and screaming when frontman David Coverdale emerged on stage with instant magnetism and yelled “Are you ready?”. Whether it was his rugged leather and cloth outfit, his immaculate flowing locks, or that voice, the women in the crowd became dazed and struck as if it was 1987 all over again. A few of them were out to prove that they would qualify to star in a Whitesnake video of their own, but that’s quite another story. “Bad Boys” found Mr. Coverdale stirring up the crowd even more. The things he does with his microphone stand on stage are almost certainly illegal in most states. Even more remarkable is what the singer can do with the microphone itself. The glass shattering screams? Check. Trance inducing baritone? Yep. Hint of a British accent? Of course. Accusations surfaced earlier this year that Coverdale was using tapes, but he was clearly live at Moondance.
A few songs in, the 25th anniversary of Slide It In was marked with two tracks from the album: “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and “Slow An’ Easy“. Like Journey, a key element that keeps Whitesnake shows fresh is the slightly altered versions of the classics. “Here I Go Again“, a staple at the band’s live shows since its release, has never sounded so great in concert. The incredible melody of the song is brought to the forefront, and guitarist Reb Beach seals the deal with his solo. Although the band has always been about David at its core, the all-star line-up that forms Whitesnake today is perhaps the best. Gone are egos and illnesses, and present are two monster guitarists in the form of Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach, also of Winger. Beach is a loose and wild player, while Aldrich is more focused on the melody. In the end, the two complement each other extremely well, maintaining their own unique style and creating the best possible dueling guitar solo you could ask for following “Lay Down Your Love“, another new track from last year’s Good to Be Bad. Bassist Uriah Duffy and drummer Chris Frazier are the latest musicians to join the band, and they fit in perfectly. What song could possibly end a Whitesnake show better than “Still of the Night“? No song can create such a dramatic finale; everyone was waiting for Coverdale to blow the stage apart with his high note. Whitesnake absolutely tore it up, and left the crowd wondering if Judas Priest could do the same.
The Moondance crowd took wild to another level before the metal gods rolled out onto the stage. A lot of pushing and shoving could be seen as a giant curtain with the words “The Home of British Steel” was draped across the stage. Starting out with their magnum opus, British Steel in its entirety, the crowd went biserk for “Rapid Fire” and “Metal Gods“. Fists were in the air as far as the eye could see, and upon further observation, the women who had gathered for Whitesnake had departed in favor of more charged up men. A true man’s band, Judas Priest showed no signs of aging on a musical level as they mastered every song from the Steel album. Rob Halford, KK Downing, and Glenn Tipton make up the premier heavy metal trio and demonstrated why they are so highly regarded in the metal arena. True pioneers of the genre, make no mistake that Judas Priest is aware of their place in rock history and its members insistant upon elaborate stage props that flaunt a high status.
Singer Rob Halford went through numerous outfit changes throughout the set, but things got really interesting when he rolled out on his motorcyle to sing “Freewheel Burning“. It looked a bit awkward as he sat on its seat to sing the entire song – only Judas Priest can pull this off. His voice has been tackling the demanding qualities of Priest songs for decades, but still is remarkably powerful and resonant. Overall, the volume was turned up to 11 for the entire show, and the guitars never seemed to stop. Although the band’s last album Nostradamus was a mixed bag that met with lukewarm reviews, one new song in the form of “Prophecy” did manage to fit in quite convincingly with the rest of the set. “You Got Another Thing Coming” finished off the set and left over 10,000 fans with ringing ears as they walked back to their campsites. The second and most menacing night of Moondance had concluded.