Saturday, November 17, 2007


So, this week I went to see Van Halen' s reunion tour with David Lee Roth. I'd seen some of Dave's solo shows in the '80s, but never Dave with VH, and none of the non-Dave versions of the band.

Truth be told, I probably hadn't listened to any Van Halen at all in a really long time. Earlier this year, when it was announced that they were going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I started listening again. And in the weeks leading up to this concert, I started yet again. It really is amazing how well thier music (from the DLR-era) has held up. In the course of six albums, they hardly had any bad songs - Van Halen, II, Fair Warning, Women & Children First, Diver Down and 1984 - they were just great albums. I think for a long time I sort of lumped them in with hair metal, and kind of decided that I wasn't into them anymore. Well, listening to them over the past few weeks has made me realize what a great band they were.

The show was a lot of fun. I bet any singer of any Van Halen tribute band probably sings better than Dave - but they wouldn't be better than Dave. What I mean is, his charisma and stage presence is so undeniable, and is such a huge part of the band's vibe. So what if he couldn't hit all the notes. The show was really satisfying. Unlike The Police, they weren't trying to stretch the old songs out, or show how they've grown, or whatever. I'm a bigger fan of The Police, but I think Van Halen's show was much better.

What surprised me most was the vibe between Dave and Eddie Van Halen. They seemed to be loving playing together again: it was almost like they were wondering, "Why did we ever break up? What the hell were we fighting about anyway?" That rapport definitely took the show to the next level.

I don't think any fan was happy with the way things went down with Michael Anthony: Ed essentially kicked him out of the band, and replaced him with his 16 year old son, Wolfgang Van Halen. Michael was there from day one, and Ed's rationale for ditching him was that Michael was playing with Sammy Hagar's band. I think there's no doubt that Michael would have dropped everything to do a VH tour, and Sammy has said he would have had no problem with that. Sammy has even said that Eddie was trying to boot Michael since their Van Hagar reunion tour a few years back. The only positive thing about it was that Eddie was totally enjoying playing with his son, and the 16 year old kid really rose to the occasion.

My only complaint was during the synth-heavy 1984 songs "Jump" and "I'll Wait," Eddie didn't play keyboards - yet you could hear keyboards. Either they had someone playing backstage (which is corny) or they were playing to canned backing tracks (also corny). I know that there were canned backing vocals (Ed and Wolfgang sang backing vocals, but it was obvious that they were singing with recorded backing vocals - The Police did the same thing, by the way), I was OK with that, sort of. But they keyboard thing bugged me a bit. Also, Ed's guitar solo and Alex Van Halen's drum solos were both too long.

Anyway, great show, and I hear they're extending the tour. I don't know if I'll go again (I imagine it would be the exact same show as I saw this week - they didn't leave out many songs), but I'm glad that I saw it at least once.

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