Virtuoso Guitarist Steve Vai Turns Back the Clock with Whitesnake at Hellfest

Header image credit of (Steve Vai) Larry DiMarzio/All images courtesy of SKH Music/Whitesnake Webpage (official)

By Fábio Moniz

Whitesnake’s singer David Coverdale has invited virtuoso guitar player Steve Vai to perform “Still of the Night” at Hellfest Open Air. The available footage (see below) shows Vai soloing some bars before Coverdale hits the last verses of Whitesnake’s 1987 barn-burning classic.

In a Tweet after the performance, Vai recalled Coverdale’s energy on stage and shares his feelings about being on stage with Whitesnake in front of a 45,000 metal-loving crowd in France.

“It was an absolute honor to be invited by David Coverdale to join Whitesnake for their final song “Still of the Night” at the mighty Hellfest. I’m grateful I was able to contribute one last time to this phenomenal band that was such an integral part of my career. To feel David‘s energy on the stage again, and Tommy Aldridge‘s slamming beats, and to finally be able to jam with my friend Joel Hoekstra, and the rest of the “Snakes” in front of 45,000 people was just electrifying. Deep appreciation to all.”

The downside of it seems the absence of guitarist Reb Beach, whose absence, according to MusicRadar, has firstly been addressed on June 14, in a tweet from guitarist Joel Hoekstra, mentioning Mr. Hoekstra had to cover Beach’s solos. No cause for his absence has been revealed as of yet, but only a hint from Hoekstra, mentioning that Beach was, “Under the weather,” later writing, “Hopefully, Reb returns immediately.”

Image credit: Elise Brodsky/courtesy of Joel Hoekstra Twitter (official)

Following Hoekstra’s Tweets, a day later, on June 15, Beach had posted a retweet from Kip Winger where it reads, “Cooling off before we hit the stage again in July!” We all hope Red Beach gets well soon and wish him a great recovery.

As for Vai, the performance marks the first time he shared the stage with the mighty Whitesnake since 2020 when the guitarist (virtually) celebrated the 30th anniversary of their legendary 1990 performance at Donnington. During the stream, Vai was joined by his former Slip of the Tongue-era bandmates, Adrian Vandenberg (guitar), Tommy Aldridge (drums), and Rudy Sarzo (bass).

It’s not the first time Vai has reminisced on his time with Whitesnake. In a 2020 interview with Guitar World, the six-stringer had the following to say:

“When I had joined Whitesnake, the tracks were already recorded and Adrian had laid down guide rhythm tracks. What had happened was Adrian developed this situation with his wrist that persisted throughout the tour. I’m not sure what caused it, but he’d have to soak his wrist after every show.

So Adrian had made these guide tracks and those were basically chords and structures, and I obviously copped a lot of the riffs from those, but I put my spin on them because it was all like one track of guitar. I went in with 20 tracks on some songs; it’s a very dense guitar record and I definitely did my best to decorate it. It was a departure from what Whitesnake was normally known for in the guitar department.

There’s no way those records would’ve been accepted if I didn’t have some kind of rock integrity, but I knew what the songs needed and I knew what the audience was expecting and there’s a side of me that I knew could deliver that. It was the same thing with Whitesnake. The foundation of Whitesnake’s sound was rooted in rock blues, and there’s a whole culture that emanated from Europe in that traditional solid rock blues guitar playing that had a real authenticity to it.”

Interested in seeing Steve Vai shred with David Coverdale’s Whitesnake? Hit the link below:

Fan-filmed video of his appearance can be seen below. (Above image credit:

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