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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Van Halen rocks Consol Energy Center

by Scott Tady


Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing remains one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most impressive and signature sounds.

How does he do it?

How does the most revered of living American guitar gods manage that maelstrom of shredded notes that somehow comes out melodic? How does he achieve that piercing, primal tonality, full of expression and packed with the power to electrify an arena with 13,000 fans?

Rapidly tapping his right pointer finger percussively in an overhand position halfway up his guitar neck, while bending strings with his left hand fingers spaced apart at lengths that would cause most people pain, Eddie put on a virtuosic display Friday for a virtually full Consol Energy Center.

Van Halen the band – Eddie, older brother Alex on drums, Eddie’s 21-year-old son, Wolfgang on bass, and David Lee Roth at the mic – charged through a 24-song, 110-minute set that deftly mixed beloved hits with four arena-worthy cuts from “A Different Kind of Truth,” the band’s first new album in 14 years and first studio effort with Roth since 1984.

A setlist starting with “Unchained” and “Runnin’ With the Devil” and encoring with “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love” and “Jump,” pretty much mirrored every recent tour stop. “Romeo Delight” from 1980’s “Women and Children First” was the one early wild card.

So the setlist had structure, though you’d still have to call the show loose, due to Roth’s vexing habit of changing the speed, phrasing and timing of his vocals compared to the familiar album and radio versions. Roth altered almost every song, with the results sometimes choppy and often distracting.

The one exception, perhaps, was his slowed down, one-step-behind delivery that added to the drama of the “I’ve been to the edge” moment on “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love.”

If Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang minded Roth’s vocal wanderings they didn’t show it. Eddie, especially, smiled for much of the show. The two brothers must realize anything is preferable to the band’s stiff and dry Sammy Hagar era, and the bonus you get with Diamond Dave is his engaging showmanship.

Working a spacious, uncluttered stage with a central wooden floor piece buffed in a way that let Roth slide and glide on his fancy shoes, the singer executed gymnastic splits and athletic high-kicks remarkable for any man, yet alone a 57-year-old.

Wolfie, on bass, adeptly handled much of the background vocals, looking a lot more comfortable on stage than the band’s last Pittsburgh show at the Civic Arena in 2008, when he was just 17.

Backstage after the show, meeting up with his long-time musician friend Rick Granati of Beaver, drummer Alex Van Halen said he misses the Civic Arena, where his band performed six times.

Alex’ drumming was excellent Friday, matching the turbocharged speed of brother Eddie on “Hot for Teacher,” one of the night’s best songs, and bashing out the fierce, tribal beat that spearheaded another highlight, “Everybody Wants Some.” Eddie’s late-show encore was dazzling, climaxing with “Eruption,” still the Mount Everest of hard-rock guitar solos.

Kool & the Gang opened the show, coming on stage initially to a crowd about 60 percent capacity. Kudos to those on-time, open-minded folks, who were treated to a fun performance. Almost every ticketholder had arrived at their seats in time for Kool & the Gang’s finale of “Get Down on It” and “Celebration,” for which black-shirted Van Halen fans merrily sang along.


Read the original article here.

Van Halen rocks the Sovereign Center

By Dustin Schoof | The Express-Times 

Iconic hard rock band Van Halen stopped Monday night at the Sovereign Center in Reading.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band behind such classic rock hits as “Jump,” “Runnin’ With the Devil,” “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher” took to the stage in support of their recently released studio album, “A Different Kind of Truth.”

“A Different Kind of Truth” is the group’s first studio album with original singer David Lee Roth since “1984.”


Van Halen, Kool & the Gang, Rock the Hall

By Craig Billow


When I had initially heard the news that Kool & the Gang would be opening for Van Halen, I honestly didn’t have many expectations. The pairing was unconventional, to say the least. I mean, what are a bunch of funk musicians with a brassy horn section doing on the same tour as Diamond Dave? I balked at the idea. I laughed about it. But oh, how wrong I was …

Pictured right: Kool & the Gang was as cool as ever last Saturday night, March 24

Fast-forward to 7:30pm Saturday. The house is about halfway full, the rest of the crowd milling around Boardwalk Hall’s vast entryway purchasing their $12 beers and VH swag. An unassuming gentleman dressed like a motown throw-back from the ‘70s quietly strolls on stage and takes a seat behind a drum set. He adjusts the seat, stretches, and EXPLODES into the funkiest intro groove that’s rattled those walls in years. The crowd reacted in surprise and disbelief as the lights dimmed and the rest of the ‘Gang took the stage and proceeded to bring the house down. For the next hour, Boardwalk Hall had transformed into Studio 54. The place was alive and dancing, singing along to Jungle Boogie, bumping’ and grindin’ to Ladies Night and having spastic fits during Celebrate.

When the Gang left the stage, the audience was still in smiling disbelief. People around me were remarking that, ‘if the show ended now, it would be a good night! We still have Van Halen to look forward to!’ And boy were they right.

Pictured left: David Lee Roth (left) and Eddie Van Halen

After a brief pause and a beer run, the audience had returned and the lights dimmed once again. The energy in the room grew to near-nuclear levels as Alex Van Halen took the stage and began the show with a thunderous drum solo. Then came that all-too-familiar banshee wail of Eddie’s guitar as he and his son Wolfgang ran onstage. As the noise of the band grew, so too did the screams from the audience until a voice screamed from somewhere backstage, “LET’S GO! LET’S GO!” and an odd blue-sequined dancing whirlwind came stampeding towards the front of the stage … none other than the one and only David Lee Roth in all his glory. Eddie immediately begins the iconic opening riff for “Unchained” and DLR leapt into the air and did a split-kick like he wasn’t a day over 30.

For the next two and a half hours, the band shredded their way through a near-perfect setlist of all the old favorites with a couple of the new jams peppered in for good measure. Alex and Wolfie churned through the rhythms like a rocket powered freight-train while Eddie and Dave had a running competition to see who could hit higher notes, at one point even having a back-and-forth scat vs. guitar wail-off.

Three very notable thoughts crossed my mind during their set. One, Eddie looks healthier and more alive than he has since the mid-1980s. It’s a breath of fresh air to see him in good health again, and man oh man was he on fire. Two, the chemistry was palpable. Not once did I see any of them stop smiling from ear-to-ear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band happier to be playing for such an appreciative audience. It was downright infectious. And third, despite most of the band approaching the AARP age, they had more life in them than pop stars half their age. Diamond Dave doesn’t need auto-tuning and a backing track and he was dancing like someone was shooting at his feet. His song and dance routine put the 20-something pop princesses to shame. Take note, ladies. Autotune does not a good singer make, and dancing is not an excuse for a lack of talent. These guys have it in spades.The show concluded with an encore of Jump, an explosion of confetti and Roth waving a comically oversized flag over the first four rows. When they took their bow, the boys all hugged, and you could feel how glad this tour is making them. Suddenly, Kool & the Gang made sense … this wasn’t a nostalgia bath or some goofy stunt. This tour is a party. It’s a celebration. And they wanted all of us to feel like we were invited to be their special guests. And you know what? It worked.Dave said it best, “Yeah, we’re running’ a little bit hot tonight.”

Older and wiser, Van Halen reunited and rockin’ out

 By Peter Simpson, The Ottawa Citizen

Years ago, Van Halen famously imploded amid the usual internecine rock and roll warfare, but at Scotiabank Place Wednesday night it was soon clear that despite all those years apart, the band is still as tight as David Lee Roth’s pants.

Reunited and slightly reconfigured — bass player Michael Anthony is gone, replaced by Wolfgang, the son of guitar god Eddie Van Halen — the band tore through a 23-song set in under two hours. The fiftysomething trio of Dave, Eddie and brother Alex Van Halen, on drums, may not have the volatile energy that made them stars back in 1978, but they’ve lost nothing musically. They still pack a punch, though these days it’s thrown more by Eddie’s furious fingers, and less by Dave’s acrobatic vocals.

The two of them appeared entirely comfortable together on stage, despite the years of animosity, and that’s the way it should be, for Dave and Eddie can only fully be Dave and Eddie if they’re together, as two forces alternately attracting and repelling one another and finding creativity and energy in the tension. There’s “Diamond” Dave, the peacock lothario frontman who lets it all hang out, and then there’s Eddie, the quiet, quasi-reclusive whiz bang of a guitar player. Without both forces on stage, the band could never really be Van Halen.

Dave (only first names used here, what with all those Van Halens about) almost did let it all hang out mid-show, during the song Tattoo. He pulled down his pants — black leather, cross-stitched, tight and sparkly, a bold choice for a 56-year-old man — and showed off a tattoo on his butt. It was a gun, and on the giant, stage-wide screen behind him it looked as big as a Howitzer. Dave did more showing off later, and it revealed that he’s not still entirely the incorrigible hedonist. As he strummed the acoustic guitar notes of Ice Cream Man, he showed a video of his border collies and spoke of them lovingly as they expertly herded sheep and cattle. When the video ended he quipped, “I’m the only rock and roller who owns livestock for non-recreational purposes.”

His voice was good enough, though without its former range, and nowhere was it more clear than on Beautiful Girls. The song, from way back in the 1970s, was always a grand example of his vivacious vocal power — all yowls and yelps among the devil-may-care lyrics like “I’m a bum in the sun and I’m havin’ fun,” a line surprisingly well suited to a 27 C day in Ottawa in mid-March. Dave couldn’t hit the high notes on the chorus, so he did what any wise frontman would do: he held out the mic and let the audience sing the words.

Otherwise his voice was enough to belt out a setlist full of classic rock-radio staples, including Running With the Devil, Dance the Night Away, Hot for Teacher, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, and Panama. Also in were the band’s two massive-selling cover versions, of Roy Orbison’s Oh, Pretty Woman and the Kinks’ You Really Got Me.

Curiously enough, those two covers may be the most effective examples of Eddie’s signature sound. In both cases he managed to take a song that was universally known in its original version, and make it his own merely by pumping the riffs up to about a thousand pounds pressure.

An Eddie Van Halen riff is something tremendously sharp and electric, a wild thing on a leash that only he can hold. Near the end of the show he did a six-minute guitar solo — a tired tradition, but worth seeing when it’s Eddie, especially displayed on a giant screen where you can see it up close. His fingers move so fast that they cannot be measured by science or technology. There’s more to guitar than speed, of course, but speed is something that Eddie does uniquely, and exceptionally well.

The audience lapped it up, revelling in the reliving of their youth, (judging by the average age of those in attendance, which was surely north of 40). It wasn’t a big crowd — no attendance number was released, and there were lots of empty seats — but it was enthusiastic. Everybody stood up during the first song, Unchained, and stayed on their feet for the rest of the show.

Dave played to the fans shamelessly. He was energetic and animated, and predictably full of camp — kicking the mic stand up onto his shoulder and strutting, promenading, with swagger in every step. When the show ended with (of course) their biggest hit, Jump, Dave even gave up a couple of high kicks. They weren’t as high as they once were, but it’s impressive that he can still do them at all. If any other man that age in the building had tried a kick like that, his groin would have landed in Belleville.

Read more:

Legendary rockers Van Halen, touring with David Lee Roth, perform at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, March 17, 2012 in support of a brand new record, A Different Kind of Truth. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI Agency)


Van Halen rolls into the ACC



If you were wondering who’s holding down Van Halen’s current incarnation on the road, which pulled into the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night – on St. Patrick’s Day no less – the first hint was the opening song, Unchained.

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen, his brother and drummer Alex, and Eddie’s son and bassist Wolfgang first appeared on the massive, minimalist stage – dominated by a wall of speakers and an enormous video screen – before flashy singer David Lee Roth followed.

The veteran hard rock outfit is touring with Diamond Dave in support of a new album, A Different Kind of Truth, their first studio effort in 14 years, and their first with Roth in 28 years since the album (and the year) 1984.

And even if the band kept the new songs to a minimum, playing only four – the new standouts were Tattoo and The Trouble With Never – in their loud and fast-paced hour-and-50-minute set, the Van Halen magic was clearly back after a good but not great trek with Roth in 2007 that also visited the ACC.

At that time the foursome hadn’t had the time to really gel given it was Wolfang’s first tour with his dad and uncle, Roth hadn’t been in the fold in 22 years and Eddie wasn’t looking so good and that tour later postponed some dates while he was rumored to be in rehab.

By comparison Van Halen now comes across like a happy, well-oiled machine, led by the plane engine-like guitar sound and virtuoso playing of a much healthier-looking Eddie.

Highlights were numerous: Runnin’ With The Devil, Everybody Wants Some – which the band stopped mid-song just to lap up the sound of 14,500 people roaring – Dance The Night Away, I’ll Wait, Hot For Teacher, Beautiful Girls, Panama, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Jump, and their covers of Oh, Pretty Woman and You Really Got Me.

It all became apparent just content how Eddie, now 57 years old, was and is during his astonishing guitar solo late in the show as he sat alone on the stage and smiled like a little kid while he played.

Wolfgang – who turned 21 on March 16 – is also a much more confident bass player, interacting nicely with both his dad and uncle throughout the night, while Alex (in shades the entire show) made a massive racket behind his kit and Diamond Dave was up to his usual flamboyant stage antics.

Sure, the high kicks and high vocal register aren’t what they were back in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, but Roth – decked out in a shiny silver shirt, vest, and sparkly pants and occasionally a newsboy cap – knew how to work the room, whether it was sitting on Alex’s drum kit, or dancing in a soft shoe fashion on a wooden stage that enabled him to slide around in between Eddie and Wolfgang.

“How we doing so far, Canada?” asked Diamond Dave to huge cheers.

And when he changed into a blue satin jacket with red trim during Hot For Teacher you hoped the wardrobe changes would just keep coming. They did.

We also got some amusing stage banter as Roth took the stage solo with an acoustic guitar leading up to his cover of Ice Cream Man while showing footage of his herding dogs on the large screen behind him.

“Cattle dogs are a lot more aggressive,” explained Roth. “They’re a lot like Canadian hockey fans.”

In an odd but intriguing pairing, funk pioneers Kool and The Gang opened for Van Halen.

Apparently, Roth saw their set at Glastonbury last year and thought they’d be a perfect opening act.

Tragically, the 10-member Kool and the Gang – including bassist Robert “Kool” Bell – didn’t have much of an audience intitially as they kicked off their 45-minute set with Fresh.

But the crowd grew in size and spirit as the group continued along with such funk classics as Too Hot, Jungle Boogie, Ladies Night, Get Down On It, and the mother of all wedding songs, Celebration, the latter finally inspiring the audience to sing along.



Runnin’ With the Devil

She’s The Woman

The Full Bug


Everybody Wants Some!!

Somebody Get Me A Doctor

China Town

Hear About It Later

Oh, Pretty Woman

Drum solo

You Really Got Me

The Trouble with Never

Dance The Night Away

I’ll Wait

Hot For Teacher

Women In Love

Girl Gone Bad

Beautiful Girls

Ice Cream Man


Guitar Solo

Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love


Photograph by: Marie-France Coallier / THE GAZETTE


Review: Van Halen at the Bell Centre in Montreal


MONTREAL – Well, yer semi-good-lookin’… Amazing how an old ho can look like Liz Taylor in the right light.

It doesn’t even take much make-up or hair extensions. Just the appreciation bred by the years, for the band that was Bigger-est and most carny, most SuperBowl, Most American of its crotch-grabbing yahooing era, the ’80s. And now, this time.

Don’t get me wrong – despite all that writing of a New Grace in a recent column, David Lee Roth remains a hooting Vaudevillian, his band a hard rock boom-bah parade candy coating a kind of genius center, but burnished by the fondling hands of time, Van Halen offered their own kind of truth to a crowd ready to celebrate.

Ah yes. The VH had been unlikely from the get-go, with a smart Jewish baton-twirler fronting hard rockers and the dominant instrumentalist of his period, a guy with a smile of bliss and an atomic talent he put to the service of songs about stocking lines running up the back of a chick’s legs. So there was nothing unlikely about opening act Kool & the Gang cheering a surprisingly full quotient of the 9,000 partyers expected with Jungle Boogie, Ladies Night, Get Down On It, and Celebration.

Then with zero fanfare, Alex Van Halen’s drums were bathed in nuclear yellow, DLR was stride-waddling in leatherish pants, and Eddie Van Halen was cranking into a slower version of the Unchained that used to open their shows at warp speed, on a borderless stage, with the entire back wall taken up by the b&w screen. Simple. Clean. Perfect.

Eddie stuck close to home – his pedals and mic – for most of the evening, allowing you to concentrate on the sounds and be reminded of the illicit thrill of his virtuosity and bag-o-tricks. The Horse whinnied in Runnin’ With the Devil two songs in, the Elephant blared, all the stop-time whammy-bar dive-bombing, and the gargantuan riffs.

Dave didn’t have anything to say – kidding, he never shut his yap, about his sheepdogs and cattle dogs and pickup trucks and “Little Elvis” – that was actually pretty funny, joking about a sex tape “nobody wants to see” and 180-ing with “No, in 1982, I was f*****’ good – Little Elvis was in the House that whole tour!” Thereby solving the ancient psyche riddle: you can be self-deprecating and aggrandizing, in the very same minute. Beware the Prides of March. Vocally, he was in fine bray throughout. He was… loveable. But he didn’t have anything to say about the VH reformation. That was handled last go-round, in 2007-8.

And he needn’t have said anything about the Meaning of the VH. You were pointing your ears at it, at a band that has reconciled itself to what it is and must be. Yes, DLR and this Van Halen that couldn’t be more Van Halen with three VHs in it, belong together.

Tattoo drew a big cheer from the crowd. Everybody Wants Some drew a bigger one, bookended with Somebody Get Me a Doctor in the early highlight. After the crazy intro to China Town, Pretty Woman and You Really Got Me, you saw the new songs would slow nothing down. Not when The Trouble With Never was setting up Dance the Night Away. I’ll Wait for the girls, the sonic roman candle of Hot For Teacher for everyone. You realized you’d been pulling for Eddie, and needn’t have – he was in top form and complete control in those fretboard calisthenics, and seated on the steps for Eruption, and unleashing the riff to Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.

Cue Dave solo with an acoustic guitar and his charming ranch tales. “Who likes dogs here?” Really? It’s been a long winter, with all its unexpected trials. You figured you were entitled to this. Panama let the dogs out, and Thursday night on the Ides was Saturday night in mid-July.

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Review: Van Halen Rocks Manchester, New Hampshire, March 13

by Dave Reffett

On Tuesday, March 13, Van Halen rolled into Manchester, New Hampshire, and played to a packed house at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

The city was taken over by Van Halen fever. Every bar I walked into was packed to the gills, cranking stuff like “Drop Dead Legs” from1984.

I got to the venue early to check out the much-talked-about opening-act choice, Kool & The Gang. Like everyone else, when I heard they were on the bill for the length of the tour, I was a little confused. And sure enough, when they started up, everyone was like, “What are these guys doing here?”

But by the third song, they had won over the crowd — scoring a standing ovation at the end of their set. They did a great job of getting the crowd pumped up for the main event.

Half an hour later, Van Halen came out unannounced. No intro reel, nothing. They just started. Alex was pounding on the drums, Eddie started ripping, Dave said, “Let’s go!,” and it was on. Eddie fired into the opening riff of “Unchained,” and the place went nuts.

The band was in fine form, especially Eddie, who looks happy and healthy, doing what he was put on earth to do. He is playing the best he’s played in years. It also ruled when Dave broke up a fight during “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” as seen in an already-infamous clip on

I filmed a few songs myself, and I’ve included the videos below (presented in order). Hope you enjoy them!

[More Videos:]

I’ve also included the set list, which you can check out below.

My only complaint is that I would’ve liked to have heard some more gems like “I’m The One,” “Romeo Delight,” “Atomic Punk” and “Feel Your Love Tonight” — but I can’t really complain. Diamond Dave sounded awesome and put on a great performance. Alex and Wolfgang were spot on.

VH played a blistering two-hour set.

Check out Van Halen’s remaining tour dates here.

Van Halen set list, March 13, 2012, Manchester, New Hampshire:

Unchained (From Fair Warning)
Runnin’ With the Devil (From Van Halen)
She’s The Woman (From A Different Kind Of Truth)
The Full Bug (From Diver Down)
Tattoo (From A Different Kind Of Truth)
Everybody Wants Some (From Women And Children First)
Somebody Get Me A Doctor (From Van Halen II)
China Town (From A Different Kind Of Truth)
Hear About It Later (From Fair Warning)
Oh, Pretty Woman (From Diver Down)
Drum Solo
You Really Got Me (From Van Halen)
The Trouble with Never (From A Different Kind Of Truth)
Dance The Night Away (From Van Halen II)
I’ll Wait (From 1984)
Hot For Teacher (From 1984)
Women In Love (From Van Halen II)
Girl Gone Bad (From 1984)
Beautiful Girls (From Van Halen II)
Ice Cream Man (From Van Halen)
Panama (From 1984)
Eddie’s Guitar Solo
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love (From Van Halen)
Jump (From 1984)

Van Halen rocks Boston with hits past and present

By Christopher Hurley /


Boston — For a band that’s been running with the devil for over 30 years now, Van Halen shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon — and for longtime fans of the original line-up, that’s a good thing.

Reunited with original frontman David Lee Roth, the quartet, which also includes guitar god Eddie Van Halen, drummer AlexVan Halen and bassist Wolfgang Van Halen, laid down the heavy hammer during its dynamic two-hour show Sunday night in front of a capacity crowd at the TD Garden.

Promoting its first studio album in 14 years, and first with Roth since 1984, the rock and roll hall-of-famers proved that there are still plenty of good miles left in the old VH odometer.

After many years of bad blood between them, Eddie and Dave appeared to have buried the hatchet, and the results have been awe-inspiring.

If you’re looking for any Sammy Hagar-era love ballads of the late ’80s, look elsewhere. This band focused much of the night on tunes from its original six studio albums with Roth, from its classic 1978 self-titled debut to its zenith, “1984.” But this wasn’t strictly a nostalgia trip. The group also played several tunes off its latest album, the remarkably heavy “A Different Kind of Truth,” which only complemented the band’s vast songbook.

With Roth’s magnetic stage presence and Eddie Van Halen’s guitar heroics, the result was an effective mix of rock and roll and Ringling Brothers.

Eddie Van Halen continued to dazzle and amaze with his guitar-playing wizardry. The 56-year old riff master was in fine form, flailing away on all of the band’s signature hits, including the electrifying opener “Unchained,” while also letting loose on tracks such as “Running with the Devil” and “Hear About It Later,” with equal aplomb.

His solo spot, which featured a blend of three instrumentals — “Eruption,” “Spanish Fly” and “Cathedral” — was played effortlessly, prompting many air guitarists in the audience to copy every lick.

Drummer Alex Van Halen drove the band’s unrelenting backbeat with both power and precision. Alex, 58, provided much-needed punch to classic tunes like “Everybody Wants Some,” “Romeo Delight” and “Panama,” while also handling newer cuts like “The Trouble With Never” with relative ease.

But it was his hair-raising rendition of “Hot For Teacher,” culminating with its bodacious crescendo, that even garnered accolades from Roth himself, calling it one of the best rock and roll endings of all time.

Judging by their reaction, the audience agreed.

Although he still looks a little out of place from the rest of the band — due mostly to his relative youth — Wolfgang Van Halen is proving to be a perfect bass-playing foil opposite his dad.

Wolfie, who turns 20 March 16, no longer resembles the contest winner that originally toured with the band during its initial reunion with Roth in 2007-’08. But most important of all — the kid can flat out play and proved it especially on some of the challenging new tunes like “She’s The Woman,” “China Town” and “Tattoo.” He also held his own on many of the band’s most identifiable songs, leaving no weak link in the line-up. Simply put, the musical force is strong with this one.

And then there was Roth. Rock’s ultimate ringmaster took command of the audience from the outset and never looked back. Although he kept his old stage aerodynamics to a minimum, except for a few crescent kicks, Roth, 56, still managed to entertain the crowd as he danced around the stage, belting out classic cuts such as “Jump” and “You Really Got Me” with flash and bravado.

Roth applied ample rust remover to some of Van Halen’s obscure cuts, leading the band through a rousing rendition of “Hang ’em High,” which was last played live in 1983 — much to the delight of the crowd.

Vintage stuff from a classic rock band that still has a strong foothold in the present. But enjoy it while it lasts hard rock fans, because it’s Van Halen — it could all end tomorrow.

Christopher Hurley is sports editor for Gatehouse Media New England. Contact him at

Read more: CONCERT REVIEW: Van Halen rocks Boston with hits past and present – Acton, MA – The Beacon

Van Halen shows Buffalo how to party

by David Hens

My dear boy, do you ask a fish how it swims? Or a bird how it flies?  No sirree, you don’t.  They do it because they were born to do it.” – Bill, the candy store owner, in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

I quote Mel Stuart’s 1971 children’s classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” because, if last night’s ostentatious 22-song set from Van Halen at First Niagara Center showed us anything, it’s that Eddie Van Halen was born to play the axe at screeching volume.

From the opening gut-punch of “You Really Got Me,” it was clear that we were witnessing a new Eddie, a revitalized legend rising from the ashes of substance abuse to reclaim the glory that comes with being a guitar god.

As always, his right hand did the talking, and the capacity crowd soaked up every incendiary riff he threw at them.  Staples such as “Unchained,” “Hot for Teacher,” and “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” crackled with every bit of Southern California ribaldry we expect from the group who lit up the Starwood during the late 1970s.

Given that this tour marks the first time since 1984 that the band has promoted a new album with original vocalist David Lee Roth, the expectations are certainly high, but all four members brought their A-game to Buffalo.

“Diamond” Dave prances across the stage like a modern-day Vaudevillian whose sole purpose is to entertain to no end, and he’s simply a blast to watch.  Whether it was twirling a baton or giving the crowd a 12-second glimpse of his Mexican dancing skills, the guy still knows how to give ‘em hell across the board.

Of course, we’re bound to hear complaints regarding his inability to yowl as if it was 1978, but such a criticism is, in my opinion, unfair.  He’s 56, and his vocal range can’t be expected to remain the same forever, so his performance last night was killer in every aspect.

If you’re someone who is going to waste their breath pointing out how he doesn’t sound like he used to, I have news for you.  He doesn’t.  Nor should he, because this is a new era, and the guys are too busy promoting a supreme new album to be bothered with petty detractors.

Speaking of “A Different Kind of Truth,” tracks such as “She’s the Woman,” “China Town,” and “The Trouble With Never” really come alive on stage, and even the underwhelming first single “Tattoo” manages to transcend its radio-friendly charm to become quite engaging.

With Wolfgang Van Halen finally settling into his duties on bass, the 2012 version of Van Halen feels right on every level, because the egos have been shoved aside, and they’re enjoying each other’s company once again.

Say what you will about the departure of Michael Anthony, but he’s missed less and less every time they set foot on stage.  Wolfgang and Alex Van Halen form a mighty rhythm section that anchors the ship at every turn, while rounding out a fully realized group in the process.

Both the guitar and drum solos were mouth-wateringly awesome in their own way, and even Dave’s soliloquy about his beloved dogs before “Ice Cream Man” was enough to keep the gathered on their feet.

Having funk outfit Kool and the Gang open the show with party anthems such as “Ladies Night,” “Get Down on It,” and “Celebration” was an interesting choice, but one that ultimately set the tone for an evening predicated on grandiose amusement.

The fact that Roth himself hand-picked them to be the warm-up act shows his affinity for the party atmosphere, and, needless to say, Buffalo was ready to answer the call.

*This review was brought to you by the year 2012.

Here’s the set list:

1. You Really Got Me

2. Runnin’ With the Devil

3. She’s the Woman

4. Romeo Delight

5. Tattoo

6. Everybody Wants Some!!

7. Somebody Get Me a Doctor

8. China Town

9. Hear About it Later

10. [Oh!] Pretty Woman

11. Unchained

12. The Trouble With Never

13. I’ll Wait

14. Dance the Night Away

15. Hot For Teacher

16. Women in Love

17. Girl Gone Bad

18. Beautiful Girls

19. Panama

20. Ice Cream Man

21. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

22. Jump

Continue reading on Van Halen shows Buffalo how to party – Buffalo Concerts |

Van Halen Brings The “Truth” On 2012 Tour – Philadelphia Concert Review

As fans of certain things in entertainment, we are at times found waiting for moments which may never occur, and at times left grasping
at rumors to fill the void for what we badly yearn for. Without being in the industry, we can’t possibly understand the creative differences, or ego-fueled split ups that come to be between musicians, actors or even athletes.

Many times we don’t see a resolution, and our “what-ifs” stick with us for the rest of our lives. We may never see Charlie Sheen on “Two and a Half Men” again, we also may never see Peyton Manning wear number 18 for theIndianapolis Colts, but sometimes, as rock groups like The Eagles have shown us, hell can freeze over. Yes, for all of us who swore it could never happen, mega-rock band Van Halen continue on with David Lee Roth, and here in 2012, they are out to prove that they are stronger than ever!

Some 27 years after one of their best works, the album 1984, Van Halen found themselves back with lead singer David Lee Roth and releasing the new album titled “A Different Kind Of Truth”, and truth be told, it brings many of us back to the days of Van Halen being more of an instrument crashing rock band than a pop band singing radio friendly hits. The band has come back to its old roots, despite having Eddie’s son Wolfgang taking over at bass in place of former bassist Michael Anthony.

In the opinions of many, this is as real a Van Halen piece as ever since the carousel of lead singers went round and round. Roth comes back as if he never missed a day, or lost years to the likes of Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone. No, this is not an article being used to debate who was who but just to welcome back the original core to Van Halen.

So there I was, March 5th, 2012 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, waiting to judge for myself just what kind of band VH had become. Yes, I saw many of the YouTube clips from the bands tour in 2007/ 2008, which was stopped at times and re-started, and led in with no new album to support. Nothing can really do proper justice like sitting in an arena yourself and feeling the energy of the crowd, the sound, and the value of entertainment in which a band can produce. Here was the test for a band of 50-somethings and one 20 year old kid with legendary genes.

On this night the show was kicked off by an unusual choice of lead in acts, the 70′s R&B/ Funk producing Kool and the Gang. While the choice seemed strange to many rock purist, or plain ol’ rockers, Gang had the crowd jumping, and dancing through well-known hits such as ” Ladies Night “, “Get Down On It” and of course ” Celebration”. By the end of their set, the crowd seemed to go back in the time machine to the 1970′s, and it was as if the clock never moved, and we were all exactly where we wanted to be.

Within the crowd were plenty of 40+ year olds, partying and laughing and going back to a time when life was more simple. There was also many different age groups, even young kids who said they were there to hear “Tattoo”, one of the bands newest songs, which shows that generations of all sorts feel the magic behind the famous music family, and their ultimate showman lead singer. Males and females, young and old, Van Halen had a wide audience ready to be taken over by the force that their stage presence brings.

As the time finally came, Alex Van Halen made his way out first, sitting upon his drum set and softly pounding upon cymbals as Eddie and Wolfgang made their way to the stage. With just a few warm up chords under their belt, the band worked into a classic tune “Unchained “, and with Roth joining them on stage, with his usual flare, and flash, the show was under way. Another classic hit “Runnin With The Devil” came next before a new song ” She’s The Woman”.

After those 3, Roth took his turn at speaking to the crowd, being the entertainer and crowd friendly leader, almost like the ring leader of an amazing rock and roll circus. Roth gave a clever intro into the song “Tattoo” by showing risky body parts which were covered by the same type of artwork that was described in the song. The crowd by this time was in full throat, standing and cheering as the music played on. It was all too amazing to see how despite many years apart and leaving us wanting so much more, that we could easily forgive our favorites once they embrace us and each other again.

The show moved forward with more crowd-pleasing hits such as “Everybody Wants Some” and ” Somebody Get Me A Doctor” in which Roth claimed ” I’ll be ok, as long as some one gets me a shot!”, referring from his matters to either give him some women or a nice drink. In fact Roth made reference to the Kool and the Gang hit by declaring it “Ladies Night” in Philly, sparking the screams and groovy dance moves of pretty much every woman in attendance, as the band worked its way to the female homage paying number ” Oh, Pretty Woman”.

With a crowd still more than satisfied to remain standing, the hits continued, and the music was right on. Eddie was doing his usual running across stage, Roth was displaying his athletic kicks and shuffling dance moves. Alex blasted through his drum solo, and the young kid, Wolfgang, was claiming his spot in the band, strumming with a nice dose of confidence upon his bass guitar and singing his background vocals. Father and son shared the microphone at times, with Eddie messing with his sons hair, and even planting a kiss upon his sons face. Roth was seen giving the “OK” sign with his hand and Eddie the thumbs up as if they were pleased with all the goings-on with the band on stage.

Roth took a few minutes to own the stage solo, grabbing a guitar and playing a few notes while directing everyone’s attention to a video playing in the background of Roth’s dogs playing in a field. At this point you can see more of a fun-loving human being getting in touch with life and his fans, rather than a bickering, cocky ” rock-star” like Roth was believed to be in the late 70′s and 80′s. With some clever stories and well timed punch-lines mixed in, Roth then showed his range by playing and singing his blues-driven song “Ice Cream Man”. As the song ended, and the rest of the band came back out to join on the harder rock portion of the song, Roth smoothly played some scat singing, and ending with the lyrics “all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy”, and satisfied we all were.

The highlight was clearly near the end, when after some more hits from the “1984″ album Eddie Van Halen took center stage, all lights focused on him as he prepared for one of his legendary, Earth-shattering solos. Taking a seat on the steps set up on stage, Eddie held his guitar in his lap, almost like his baby, and made it speak to the crowd in a way that would fill everyone with chills. He tapped through strings and made sounds distinctive to only himself.

The crowd roared on, and Eddie kept going, faster and stronger than ever, screeching notes and smiling as if it was so very simple. From there he took everyone back down with his slower peaceful piece known as “Cathedral”, a solo piece that brought hand-clapping in sync with its notes, before sliding in to his most popular solo piece, the dazzling “Eruption”. The “Eruption” piece was always the measuring stick as to how “on” Eddie was, and if that was the case, you would have to put him at 100 percent!

With full momentum and power positive they raged through one of their very best hits “Ain’t Talkin Bout Love” which Roth claimed would be the last song of the night. Of course, always ready to please, Roth said after ” Alright, who wants one more song?” and after all the screams shook the ceiling, the band went into its closer, the “1984″ hit “Jump”, which many say was the bands most popular song of that era, and one that put them clearly on the map as one of the most popular bands in rock music history. As the song came to an end, the band had showered the stage and the audience with tri-colored confetti, and Roth came out and waved his white and black checkered flag as if to say the race had ended, at least on this night.

In all it was an electric show, pacing itself properly, and giving the fans most of what it wanted, if not everything it wanted. The band showed that they were back, and that there is no question that they still know how to work their way through the tunes. From Dave to Sammy, from Gary back to Sammy, and eventually back to Dave, the band has survived its fall outs, its critics, and a host of real life problems to find themselves back on top again.

Some say they have aged and the style will never be quite the same, and to them I say that I wish I could age so well. Sure, there will be some nay-sayers, but for the true Van Halen fans this was a night they have waited decades for, and there was nothing to disappoint them. So for me and as for many I danced the night away with a warm feeling of an excellent show with one of my all time favorite bands!


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