Great White played the International Theater in the Westgate Hotel and Casino on Saturday, August 12, 2023.
Over the years, Great White has toured the world and recorded many classic anthems, perhaps none of them more popular than the band’s cover of Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” For just over a decade now, there have been two separate incarnations of the band; former classic vocalist Jack Russell now fronts his own separate version of the band, Jack Russell’s Great White. The “main” band (which is the one that played this gig) features classic members Mark Kendall on guitar, Michael Lardie on guitar and keyboards, and Audie Desbrow on drums, as well as bassist Scott Snyder, who himself has been a longtime member. This version of the band has had a revolving door of vocalists, including XYZ’s Terry Ilous, Mitch Malloy, and Last in Line’s Andrew Freeman. The band is now fronted by Brett Carlisle, who only being in his 20s, is less than half the age of his bandmates. This fan was very curious to see the band rock this stage in Vegas with their new singer.
The International Theater at the Westgate Hotel and Casino (formerly the International and the Las Vegas Hilton) is the stage that Elvis Presley famously did his performances and residencies in during the latter decade of his life, making it an iconic place to see any show. It’s a spot I’ve caught many rock gigs over the years, and while the seating can get a bit cramped at times, nearly every seat in the house is a good one, and what more could you ask for than that?
It had been many years since I last saw Great White live; the last time I saw the group was when Terry Ilous was fronting the group (I never got to see the group fronted by Mitch Malloy or Andrew Freeman). It’s been an interesting revolving door of vocalists since the members parted way with Jack Russell so many years ago. How would they sound with a young man (emphasis on young!) fronting the band!
New singer Brett Carlisle made a fan out of me just a few minutes into this set. He very much sounds like a young Jack Russell, and he’s certainly not content to cower behind a microphone stand. The man clearly had the audiences’ attention and admiration, and he never lost his momentum at any time during this set. He even catapulted himself across the stage using Heelys, something I’ve never seen a rock singer do, so hats off to him for trying something a little different. The young man also continually encouraged crowd participation and to get people on their feet; the audience was more than happy to comply. When addressing false accusations that the public had made of the band using backing tracks, Carlisle disproved the naysayers by singing an opening vocal part loudly and clearly without a microphone. Well played, sir.
The rest of the band was in fine form as well. Lead guitarist Mark Kendall remains an underrated powerhouse when it comes to taking up his axe, still delivering when it comes to solos on harder and slower songs alike. Michael Lardie is as reliable as ever, whether with a guitar in his hands or behind the keyboards. And who can forget the rhythm section of bassist Scott Snyder and longtime drummer Audie Desbrow, long an underrated man behind the kit? With an energetic young new vocalist and a host of musicians who sound as strong as ever, the show was everything fans of this band wanted.
The setlist was essentially a “greatest hits live” set, though that’s not a bad thing. Hits performed included “Desert Moon,” “Lady Red Light,” their cover of The Angels’ “Face the Day,” “House of Broken Love,” “The Angel Song,” “Big Goodbye,” “Save Your Love,” “Rock Me,” and of course to close the set, the band’s classic cover of Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” The group also dug into the vault somewhat, throwing in cuts like “Stick It,” “Big Time,” “Rollin’ Stoned,” and even some entertaining blues jam moments. My only real criticism with this aspect of the evening was the omission of a few minor classics including “Call it Rock and Roll,” the band’s cover of The Angels’ “Can’t Shake It,” “Out of the Night,” and “Shot in the Dark.” There were also sadly no encores (oddly, this has been common practice for a lot of the shows I’ve seen at Westgate in recent years). Still, the highlights of this set far exceeded the shortcomings. The fans in the audience with me this evening were not disappointed, and neither was I.
Great White still brings the thunder live. This performance at the International Theater and the Westgate Hotel and Casino beautifully demonstrated that these guys are in good hands with new singer Brett Carlisle, who may finally be the proper replacement vocalist this band has been seeking for so long. It was a fantastic evening of hard rock, not disappointing the crowd in the least. If you’re a fan, you owe it to yourself to catch a Great White show.
All photos other than event advert by the author.