Despite the passage of time, Van Halen continues to rock. I have the ruptured eardrums to prove it.
I was "sitting" (No one ever sits during a Van Halen concert. Your seat number is just a suggestion.) with my 15-year-old daughter on one side of the stage while my husband was sitting with our 16-year-old son on the other. We could see everything and if we wanted a close-up, there was always the jumbo screen that was sometimes in sepia and sometimes in full color.
The concert setting had a main stage and an "s" curve walkway that started about two stories above Alex Van Halen's drum kit and curved down and out into the floor seating. The show started with the spotlight hitting David Lee Roth standing at the very top of the “s” waving an enormous red flag.
Why a red flag? I do not know. I suspect it is one of those Stupid Guy Things. Those of us who are of the female persuasion are constantly dumbfounded by various testosterone-driven activities and usually, we have to settle for the answer that it is a SGT. It explains a lot.
The opening song was "You Really Got Me" and we were off to the races.
David Lee Roth's vocals were of a surprisingly good quality. He may have tamed down his strut a bit but for the most part, he was the David Lee of old.
He sent the crowd into a rowdy frenzy with the loudest cheers coming when he asked how we were doing in Portland, Oregon. We were so proud of him for remembering where he was.
The song list covered the Roth-era hits: "I’m the One," "Runnin' With The Devil," "Romeo Delight," "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," "Beautiful Girls," "Dance the Night Away," "Atomic Punk," "Everybody Wants Some," "So This is Love?," "Mean Street," "Pretty Woman," "Unchained," "I'll Wait," "And the Cradle Will Rock," "Hot For Teacher," "Little Dreamer, " "Little Guitars," Jamie's Cryin'," "Ice Cream Man," "Panama" and "Ain’t Talkin' 'Bout Love." The encore was, of course, "Jump." Not a bad set, huh?
Alex Van Halen remains a drum god. Pounding away, drum sticks a blur, he anchored the music. I don't know why rock drummers, if they are lucky to survive long enough, all start to look like Charlie Watts, the drummer for the Rolling Stones. It could be a Rock Law or a Biblical prophesy but I'm pretty sure it's another one of those SGTs.
The big question of the tour was the bass player. Michael Anthony was tossed for some kid named Wolfgang and, oh yeah, his last name is Van Halen.
I thought he did a fine job. Those Anthony bass riffs are challenging and Wolfie appeared to cover them well. He looks just like his mom, Valerie Bertinelli, and was born about a month after my own son, but he held his own and then some. The interplay between Wolfie and his dad, Eddie, was touching at times and added a poignant tone to the evening. The torch was being passed.
Wolfie is bigger than his dad like most kids are. I don't know if it's because today's kids are receiving better nutrition or if it's because us parents are shrinking, but I suspect they are doing it on purpose out of spite. They are still quite bitter over being fed those strained peas so they grow bigger just so they can have all the cookies they want.
Then, there was Eddie.
Wearing only camouflage pants and red high-tops (de rigueur SGT fashion,) he bounced from one side of the stage to the other. His smile never died as he did his split-leg jumps and threw The Pumping Fist of Rock, a prime example of SGT if you were looking for one.
He never missed a note and seemed to add several extra just for show.
The younger generations in the audience who are currently absorbed with the video game Guitar Hero were left with their mouths agape. In that game when you mess up, you get this loud embarrassing "doink" sound instead of the correct note. Eddie Van Halen was totally and completely doinkless. On expert level.
He took the solo, "Eruption" and turned it into a 20-minute long seismic event. We…were not worthy.
It is obvious to anyone that Van Halen is Eddie and Eddie is Van Halen. This tour's lineup puts on a fun show and is well worth eardrum injury.
- by Lynette Sheffield