Richmond, VA – Sometimes the new and exciting can become quite overwhelming and be exhausting. When situations arise like that, a reset, taking a journey back into the known, can go a long way to restore a lively aura of energy. On July 10, 2022, at Richmond Harley Davidson in Ashland, VA, the iconic rock band, Great White, delivered a huge dose of therapeutic rejuvenation.
I admit, leading up to the performance, I had not followed the band in detail for many years. Every time I heard one their hits, I would be taken back to the blissful times of my early adult years. As I researched, I discovered that a lot of changes had been made over time resulting in some heated (and light hearted) discussions between fans. I saw this as an opportunity to put an end to any and all great Great White debates.
One thing I had noticed before the show was the diversity in attendance, young, old, black, white, suits and jeans (ok, there were no suits, at least none that would admit it). I spoke with one young adult (probably about the same age as I was when I heard “Once Bitten Twice Shy” for the first time) and asked her, “What on earth brought you to this show?” Her reply was priceless, “My mother raised me right and taught me how to appreciate good music!” I couldn’t have said it better. It is about the music and many were about to see if the ‘good’ music brought us back to a time when the rock was fun, make-up was glam, and hair was BIG (literally).
The band, whose 2022 lineup includes Andrew Freeman (vocals), Mark Kendall (guitar), Michael Lardie (guitar and keyboards), Audie Desbrow (drums) and Scott Snyder (bass) took to the stage by storm with “Desert Moon”. Newcomer Freeman wasted no time getting up close and person with the fans in the Gold section of the Richmond Harley Davidson as he proceeded down the stage runway and towered above those at the stage fence. One could tell by the audience reaction, this was going to be a fun performance. Debates? What debates?
From there they went into a song that pretty much everyone who remembers their Once Bitten album rocks to, “Lady Red Light” followed by “Face the Day” from their 1986 album Shot in the Dark. The audience was pumped!! The music was taking me back to a time when it was all about the music.
I admit, I never had the opportunity to experience early Great White on stage so the only band personality I know was what I had seen in video. With that said, the band’s interaction with the audience was awesome and the audience responded with pleasure!
Freeman seemed quite at home with his new role as lead for the band. Throughout the night he was able to hit the high notes and covered the full range. Sure, the personality and even the intonation may have been somewhat different than those who preceded him, but the sound brought back memories of a love laden, rebellious youth.
As the night went on they played a wide variety of tunes including “House of Broken Love”, “Can’t Shake It”, and “Mista Bone”. Freemen in particular provided the party talk, almost trying to start a debate in the audience as to who partied harder, those from Ashland, VA or those from Richmond (the venue has an Ashland address and a Richmond name). It was a lot of fun.
The energy rose as the night wound down. With their final two songs, “Rock Me” and “Once Bitten Twice Shy”, the crowd was on their feet, definitely enjoying the party. Freeman was working the crowd and the crowd was responding quite well. As they played their last note and the venue turned down the stage lights and started to play the parting music, Freeman told the Harley crew not to start the music yet, not before he bid us a heartfelt thank you and goodnight.
So were any debates settled? It probably depends on who you talk to. From this Boomer’s perspective, Great White was so much more than the members, it is all about the music. Change happens, that is reality. The question was, did this version of Great White deliver the spirit the name deserves? For me, they brought me back to a special time and place. Judging by the reaction of the audience, they too were momentarily taken back to yesteryear. So what about that younger fan I talked to? I caught up with her on the way out and asked again, she smiled, and said, “Yeah, my mom really knows good music!” That was all I needed to hear.
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Great White Setlist
Lady Red Light
Face the Day
House of Broken Love
Can’t Shake It
Save Your Love
Once Bitten Twice Shy
Show Date: July 10, 2022