Whitesnake playing Hellfest as part of their farewell tour was always going to be a celebratory event, but when their paths crossed at the French festival with former guitarist Steve Vai the band took it to another level on 23 June when he joined them for a rendition of their 1987 classic Still Of The Night. The wolf howled, and so did everyone else.
Of course Vai played an extended solo. It would have been a crime not to, and he was clearly moved by the reunion too. And David Coverdale put it well, as always…
"HELLFEST!!! What A F&cking Absolute Treat!!!, he wrote on Instagram. "More 2 Follow…But, Sweet Jaysus…Steve Vai Jamming With Da Snake!!! ONCE A SNAKE…ALWAYS A SNAKE!!!"
The band also posted footage of Vai taking the stage for his guest spot to a crowd of 45,000 people.
Vai was feeling the love too, writing on Instagram, "It was an absolute honour to be invited by David Coverdale to join @whitesnake for their final song Still Of The Night at the mighty @hellfestopenair.
"I’m grateful I was able to contribute one last time to this phenomenal band that was such an integral part of my career," Vai added. "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 @joelhoekstra13, and the rest of the 'Snakes' in front of 45,000 people was just electrifying. Deep appreciation to all."
One notable absence from the stage was guitarist Reb Beach, who is currently sitting out a few dates due to an undisclosed illness. l
On June 14, guitarist Joel Hoekstra first addressed Beach's absence with a Tweet after Whitesnake's performance in Prague, Czech Republic; "A little last minute stress as Reb Beach was under the weather and I had to cover his solos. But, we gave you our best Prague!! The show must go on!"
Two days later, Hoekstra replied to a fan wrote asking where Beach was, replying, "Hopefully back ASAP! Nobody missed him more than me." And then a week later, Hoekstra answered a similar question as follows; "Hopefully Rebel returns immediately," he Tweeted.
We wish Reb all the best and hope to see him back onstage with Whitesnake soon.