With Whitesnake reduced to a one-guitar band following the continued absence of musical director Reb Beach - who has sat out five shows including Hellfest, since 14th June due to an undisclosed illness – the odds were high on Steve Vai making a guest appearance for at least one song.
Coverdale, who described the guitarist as; "the fucking seven-string sorcerer, this breath taking virtuoso" in a 2020 chat with eonmusic seemed primed for the return of the guitar star.
Hinting at the guitar wizard joining them later, David praised Steve’s appearance on the neighbouring stage, early into the band’s set. Said the head snake; “fuck me, Stevie Vai! Once a snake, always a snake!”
The scene had been set from early on in the day, when during Steve Vai’s press conference, attendees were given strict instructions to avoid asking questions about his past collaborations; perhaps in an attempt to keep his later appearance under wraps.
It was during Whitesnake's encore ‘Still of the Night’ that Vai made his out of the blue appearance. Taking to the stage with the band for the first time in over three decades, the former David Lee Roth player arrived midway through the song, in time to deliver its’ blistering solo section.
Introduced by a clearly elated Coverdale, the singer repeated; “once a snake, always a fucking snake!”
A member of the band during their 1989 ‘Slip of the Tongue’ era, Steve Vai last appeared with Whitesnake on 25th September 1990 in Tokyo, Japan, for the final show of the tour.
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