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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Van Halen play Madison Square Garden, New York, NY. March 1, 2012. / Photo taken by Robert Yager


Van Halen and Kool & the Gang celebrate good times in Nashville

By Dave Paulson |

Much of Nashville’s 2012 concert calendar seems to pose the question: Why have just one giant rock act play your arena for a night, when you can have two?

When Def Leppard returns to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in July, they’re bringing hair-metal favoritesPoison along for the ride. Modern rockers Godsmack and Staind share an arena bill next month, and aKISS/Motley Crue co-headlining tour will fill the room to the brim with over-the-top rock in September.

Leave it to Van Halen — and a stroke of strange genius from frontman David Lee Roth — to buck the trend. When the band brings its highly anticipated 2012 tour to the arena tonight, they’ll be preceded by 50 minutes of funk from R&B hitmakers Kool & the Gang, the unlikely opening act on nearly all of the tour’s dates through June.

The odd coupling raised eyebrows around the world when the tour was announced in January — and Kool & the Gang founder and bassist Robert “Kool” Bell says he was caught off-guard, too, when Roth personally invited the group to join them on the road.

“I knew the songs ‘Jump’ and ‘Dance the Night Away,’ ” he recalls, “but as far as them wanting us to be a part of the tour, I was surprised.”

As it turns out, Roth had seen the group perform at England’s Glastonbury Festival in 2011 — where they had a crowd of 60,000 dancing to “Celebration,” “Get Down On It” and other hits — and hatched the plan from there.

“David had told me while we were rehearsing, ‘Kool, I don’t know if you know this or not, but our fan base is 60 percent ladies. And you guys wrote the song ‘Ladies Night.’ You were the party funk band of the ’80s, and we were the party rock band of the ’80s. Why not? Let’s go out and have a party.’ I said, ‘Let’s go!’ ”

Bell and company haven’t looked back since the tour kicked off in Louisville, Ky., in February, when they took the stage with a hint of trepidation.

“How are the people going to react?” he remembers thinking. “Are they going to get into it or are they just going to look at us?’ ”

Luckily, the hard-rock crowds have uniformly warmed up to Kool & the Gang, and Bell says that’s due in no small part to the women in the audience, as Roth had counted on.

“They’re ready to party,” he says. “They’re looking around at the guys that came with them, and saying, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ (laughs). ‘You better go ahead and get down on it!’ So the ladies bring the guys to the party. … By the time we get to ‘Celebration,’ we have the audience sing the second verse. If they don’t know anything else, they know ‘Celebration.’ And then the energy level’s up for Van Halen.”

Other hits find particular favor on this tour: raucous funk classic “Jungle Boogie,” which was memorably featured in Pulp Fiction, and the guitar-driven, “Beat It”-esque “Misled,” which Bell says earns a lot of converts in the crowd.

“They’re kind of like, ‘Oh. These guys can rock a little bit. They’re not just the disco band,’ or whatever they thought we were.”

Bell and his band also will leave this tour with a slightly different perspective of the hard-driving rock Van Halen has excelled in — he calls Eddie Van Halen “John Coltrane on guitar.” And though Kool & the Gang has already shared bills with everyone from Def Leppard to Herbie Hancock, Bell has a feeling that fellow performers and concert promoters may have a new opinion on just how broad the band’s appeal is.

“I’ve just been on the phone with Jason (Scheff), the lead singer and bass player in Chicago, and he was saying that their camp always said that that formula would work,” Bell says. “Now maybe they’ll wake up and see that it’s about the music. It’s not about what charts you were on, etc. It’s about the music.”

Read the original article here!

Kool & the Gang open for Van Halen at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on April 27, 2012.


Just like old times: Van Halen rocks

Reviewed by Charity Apple / Times-News


GREENSBORO — Those who decided to skip the opening act during Van Halen’s concert last Saturday night at the Greensboro Coliseum missed an entertaining show, complete with synchronized dancing.

The legendary Kool & The Gang played a 50-minute set, which had most concertgoers up on their feet, swaying to the beat.

With hits such as “Jungle Boogie,” “Celebration” and “Ladies Night,” original members Robert “Kool” Bell and brother Ronald Khalis Bell, along with Dennis “DT” Thomas and George “Funky” Brown, not only kept up with the younger performers, matching them step for step, but an added treat was when Kool’s son, rapper Hakim (aka Prince Hakim) performed with the band on “Jungle Boogie.”

Van Halen front man David Lee Roth confessed during the show that it was Kool & The Gang and its influence, not only on Van Halen’s music, but Roth himself that prompted the popular 1980s rock ’n’ roll band to initiate the unusual pairing.

“A great wind blew up and as I was staring at the cracked, peeling ceiling in my hotel room, the voice said ‘tonight is ladies night and the feeling was right …’ Bet you didn’t know that for me, Kool & The Gang was a bit of a religion?” Roth said with a big grin.

Roth definitely lived up to the nickname “Diamond Dave” with sequined pants and jackets, along with prancing around on stage. A wooden floor was installed in the center of the stage, just for his fancy footwork. Back in the ’80s, Roth would command the stage with his dance and martial arts-inspired moves. The same happened in Greensboro.

The stage itself was simple, but a massive screen was located behind the stage, allowing concertgoers (no matter where they were seated) to catch a glimpse of Van Halen’s antics. Freeze-framed photography, in black-and-white, was a contrast to the flashiness Roth displayed.

This concert was a stark contrast to 2002, when Roth and former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar teamed up for a tour. Back then, Roth stumbled around on stage, his speech was slurred and he seemed to forget the words to the band’s famous songs.

When he flubbed the words to one of the band’s songs on Saturday, Roth joked, “I’ve forgotten whole shows before.”

This time, however, Roth resembled a young Fred Astaire, complete with a driving cap, in certain parts of the show. He glided across the stage and obviously fed off the audience’s energy. In some parts of the coliseum, it looked a lot like the 1980s — some folks wore shirts from 1982 while the women, especially, dressed the part with fishnet hose, teased-up “big” hair and earrings, wide belts and other accessories straight from the 1980s.

The show was a nice blend of Van Halen’s hits with current songs off its new album, “A Different Kind of Truth.” Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen’s guitar and drum solos, respectively, are worth the price of admission. These are two of the best musicians in the business. And Wolfie, son of Eddie Van Halen and his former wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, held his own on stage. Even though Roth isn’t related by blood, the camaraderie between the musicians was evident. At one point, toward the end of the show, they embraced. This probably wouldn’t have happened in the ’80s.

Roth also motioned to a young blonde girl on the front row to which he said “I was about your age when I first started trying to dance and I’m still trying,” before he began singing “Dance The Night Away.”

Black-and-white photos of dogs herding sheep were shown with an almost unrecognizable Roth in the footage.

“These are my dogs. I have three pick-up trucks, too. There are no other cars in my garage. In between tours, I go to dog trials. When I’m sending my dog running, I’m wondering what would happen if I went chasing after him into the dark,” he said before playing acoustic guitar and singing “Ice Cream Man.”

It’s a kinder, gentler Van Halen, but the songs have stood the test of time. For many, the music is a soundtrack to scenes from their lives. Upon hearing “Jump,” I’m suddenly 18 again. And, it’s also the same song I was listening to when my second son kicked for the first time.

From “Hot For Teacher” and “Panama” to the band’s rendition of “Pretty Woman,” they’ve gotten a little older and wiser, but they’re still cool.

Read the original article here!

Check out Perry Julien‘s photos from Van Halen’s show last night at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga.—atlanta-ga.html

Photo by Peter Yang. Van Halen taking an electronic-cigarette break on the New York leg of his band's tour, March 2012


Edward Van Halen Is Alive


He started playing, and millions of teenage boys started banging their heads against the wall. Thirty-five hard years later, he’s got a new album, a new tour, and his kid Wolfgang is in the band. What would you give to play Eddie’s guitar backstage at the Garden?

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Change is good as Roth, Van Halen rock Forum crowd


We’ll forgive David Lee Roth if those kicks don’t reach quite as high as they used to, or if the jumps we remember from those 1980s music videos have since been replaced by a few funky dance moves.

At 57, the lead singer for Van Halen just looks like he’s glad to be here, and judging by the reaction, so was the packed house at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday night.

Make no mistake: Despite his age, which he made light of at several points during the show, Roth remains the ultimate showman. The energy was palpable between him and master guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who looked equally thrilled to be sharing the stage and gave no hint of any past disharmony as they delighted the crowd with a mix of their early classics and cuts from their new album, “A Different Kind of Truth” – the band’s first studio album with Roth since “1984.”

It’s can be no accident that the band, on its first tour since 2007-08 and following a fun-filled set by Kool and the Gang, opened their two-plus hour show with “Unchained.” The song states that “nothin’ stays the same,” and while this has been true to some extent, it’s nice to see some things barely ever change.

Like Roth’s command of the stage, including his fun interaction with the band, and those familiar moves that – while not quite as animated – still conjured memories of Van Halen’s early days. The jumps off the stage platform have been replaced with high kicks, and he doesn’t get quite as low on those splits (and holding his back, feigning pain in a little bit of comic relief, and another time offering, “I look a little rough but I’m good to go.”) But there was enough of the gyrating, crotch-grabbing, playful Roth that we could overlook the more tame stage antics. And the slim Roth can still pull off the leather pants without looking like an Elvis impersonator.

Or Eddie Van Halen’s command of the guitar, which drew the loudest reaction during a solo featuring “Eruption” in which he left the crowd in awe of how he could cajole those kinds of sounds from a common instrument while sitting on stage as if we were entertaining the neighborhood kids on his front stoop. And those old classics such as “Pretty Woman,” “You Really Got Me,” “Dance The Night Away” and “Beautiful Girls,” delivered with that playful interplay between “Diamond Dave” and Eddie that left the “older” folks in the crowd thinking they were back in high school.

Even their new songs brought a fresh reminder that this band is going back to its roots. “She’s The Woman” features the hard-driving guitar and vocals that would have fit in perfectly in the pre-Sammy Hagar (remember him?) era. Same with “Tattoo,” another showcase for Roth’s iconic vocals and Eddie’s guitar skills, and a vehicle for Roth to show some skin – even if it was just the tattoo of a gun on his right, um, posterior.

Change isn’t bad, though. While Michael Anthony is out as bassist, the new face is Eddie’s 21-year-old son, Wolfgang, who didn’t share the joyful exuberance of his older bandmates, but still represented, especially early on with his intro for “Runnin’ With The Devil.”

If change is for the better, we learned that through a poignant story that Roth shared of is love for ranching and his two herding dogs, Mikey and Benny. Sporting overalls and an acoustic guitar over his shoulder, the backdrop video of the dogs in action was the vehicle for Roth to share this passion before entering into a spirited rendition of the slow, soulful “Ice Cream Man.”

That led to an encore of “Jump” and had virtually the entire arena on its feet, dancing and singing along as the show ended with a bang – literally – with confetti falling from the rafters and Roth waving a giant checkered flag as the band triumphantly crossed the finish line.

You won, guys, and so did we.

Read the original article here!



Van Halen at Amway Center

by Jim Abbot


Concert review: Van Halen at Amway Center
Concerts — posted by jimabbott on April, 12 2012 10:47 PM

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Van Halen is on the road behind a new studio album, its first with singer David Lee Roth since the MTV glory days.

The new release, “A Different Kind of Truth,” is a solid collection of songs, if not transcendent enough to compete with the classics. Of course, Van Halen’s devoted fans haven’t let that detail interfere with analysis of every derivative chord pattern and guitar riff.

On Thursday at Amway Center, the band’s current lineup of Roth and the Van Halen boys – guitar god Eddie, his bass-playing son Wolfgang and drum-pounding brother Alex – downplayed the new material. “A Different Kind of Truth” was represented by less than a handful of songs in a 1 hour, 45 minute set that emphasized old favorites.

“Runnin’ With the Devil,” offered in the opening moments, hasn’t lost much swagger since its unveiling on the band’s self-titled 1978 debut album. Although the sound-mix submerged the arrangement in a muddy pool of bass and drums, Eddie’s solo still soared on wings of intricacy and power.

Even more impressive, the modest offering of new songs dovetailed effectively with the proven commodities. “Runnin’ With the Devil” segued into “She’s the Woman,” another platform for the lead guitarist’s virtuosity. Later, the frantic “China Town” yielded more flamboyant shredding. Who cares if it was hard to decipher what Roth was singing – or was that merely shouting?

In front of the band, Roth sported a sensible hair-cut and basic black leather, a less garish outfit than the ringmaster garb he wore at the band’s 2008 show at the old Amway Arena. He seemed less physically demonstrative, though he executed his leg kicks, spins and poses with style. He also complained about being too cold because of the arena’s air-conditioning, which was odd.

Not all the new songs were winners. “Tattoo” is another showcase for Eddie’s guitar, without enough substance to make it worth the effort. On the positive side, the band shrank the arena (which had noticeable patches of empty seats in the upper bowl) with a massive stage-length video screen that made the musicians larger than life.

When Van Halen turned to its signature songs – and when Eddie took the spotlight alone for his extended solo – the music had a similar stature: “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “You Really Got Me,” “Dance the Night Away,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama” and “Jump” turned back the clock without missing a beat.

Speaking of nostalgia, Kool & the Gang opened the show with an energetic 50 minutes, laboring valiantly to spark a party vibe among the early birds. Alas, a booming sound mix undercut the impact of oldies such as “Fresh,” “Too Hot,” “Hollywood Swinging” and the obligatory “Celebration.”

And Van Halen? The band is still worth celebrating, a truth that isn’t much different after all these years.

Van Halen: The Greatest Rock Comeback Of All Time?

By Richard Johnson

Queen are headlining this year’s Download Festival with American Idol singer Adam Lambert. Black Sabbath were due to reunite until drummer Bill Ward decided he wanted some more money. The Beatles were the sixth best selling artist or group last year, just above Paul McCartney.
In the midst of a time where classic-rock is making a huge comeback (or is reminding us that it never really left), one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time has decided to rear its head and show its teeth. They were announced at every show as “The MIGHTY Van Halen!”
Ah, Van Halen. The band that has gone through three lead singers, eleven studio albums, eighty million records and millions of fans – have only recently broken their fourteen year silence (their last album released in 1998). If anything, this ten tonne bomb of an album, A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope), didn’t just break their silence, it utterly destroyed it.

28 years after the last album with David Lee Roth, A Different Kind of Truth is exactly the album Van Halen fans wanted: “Selfishly, we don’t want Van Halen to evolve, we want them to pick up where they left off.” (VHND) The most gratifying aspect to the new VH record is the combination of old and new styles, putting a contemporary edge onto the romanticised sound of their early days. Fans were originally critical that a number of songs on the album were cut from 70s demos that have been circulating the internet for years, but the band have added a 21st Century sheen to these old demos, and have skillfully reworked them. Most importantly, they have given rock fans a lesson in history – this is how to do a comeback album. Subvert all expectation and blow the minds of anyone who cares to listen.

Lead single “Tattoo” ( was retrospectively a strange choice to announce a return to the rock podium. A mid-paced bluesy number that is more reminiscent of Roth’s solo material than anything done by the band before, yet due to the trademark guitar licks from Eddie [Van Halen, guitarist], it punches well above its weight. It wouldn’t sound out of place within the top 40 – the underlying, oozing synth, charming harmonies and dense, double tracked vocals gives it a contemporary sound, but doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the much harder-edged material on the record.

The first demo-remake of the album and current single, “She’s The Woman” ( provides a viewing of Roth’s abilities as a lyricist – “This suburban ménage e trios was worth exploring” – and the delivery and enthusiasm more than make up for any weak images in the song. Here we view a tight-knit group that are, thankfully, extremely comfortable with classic sounding material.
The band’s new-found comfort manifests in the fact that the album is strikingly efficient, taking a more smash-and-grab approach to the song content than in previous records. It’s heavy, uncompromising and unashamedly rooted in the knowledge that this is high-octane fan service. The aggressive, bold approach ties in with the blueprint found in their classic material. Whilst many songs adhere to the intro-verse-chorus-solo method, there are some surprises left up Eddie Van Halen’s sleeve after all these years. “As Is” ( starts with a jungle-drum introduction that harkens to “Panama” (1984) (, and leads into a heavy, crunching riff that tips its hat to the band’s 90s material – before you know it, the riff speeds up ten-fold and Eddie attacks fast, loose and in a constantly unexpected way. Following this, “Honeybabysweetiedoll” ( is perhaps Van Halen’s greatest homage to their heavy metal and hard rock influences. Roth’s vocal delivery is deep and masterful, and the harmonics squeezed out by Eddie are sustained in an extremely satisfying way.

Perhaps the greatest feat for the band was getting the production right. The guitar and vocals ride high in the mix, but the punchy, deep bass tones give a balance to the album that has never been heard before on a VH record. Traditionally, production on Van Halen albums has suffered from tinny trebles and a distinct lack of anything low end – but fortunately, no longer. This is helped by new bassist Wolfgang Van Halen [Eddie’s son], who definitely holds more than just a pocket groove. He has improved exponentially since the last tour (2007-8), and if the tapping intro on “China Town” and bass breakdown of “Beats Workin’” is anything to go by, he certainly has the talent of his father.
It must be remembered that these guys are pushing 60 now. Their maturity has shown through their music, yet they’ve also come to the vital understanding that most of their fans have grown with them. A Different Kind of Truth isn’t just a great comeback record, it’s a quintessential rock album that any music lover should own.

Read the original article here!


A Different Kind of Truth, Same Kind of Power: Van Halen Live Concert Washington DC 2012

Review and photography by Craig Hunter Ross

Thirty two years to the week of the release of their album Women and Children First, the mighty Van Halen brought “A Different Kind of Truth” to the nation’s capital, captivating a sell out crowd with an evening of classic hits as well as new material from their current release, A Different Kind of Truth.

Are…you… ready?” screamed legendary front man David Lee Roth, receiving a deafening response from the 20,000 plus rabid fans; to which Eddie Van Halen responded by launching into the opening chords of “Unchained”, from the 1981 recording Fair Warning.

Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, soon ascended to the highest point of the stage’s stairs; his bass held up above his head, where he laid down the all too familiar bass march that begins “Runnin’ with the Devil”.  The Verizon Center sang the classic chorus in unison under the capable direction of the ringmaster Roth, who had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand all night.

New singles “She’s the Woman” and “Tattoo” from A Different Kind of Truth would bracket Diver Down’s “The Full Bug”, as the band did a masterful job of inserting their newer numbers within their more classic and well known material.  This methodology of song set construction (as well as the absence of the more “adult contemporary” hits of the Hagar era) kept the show moving at a freight train’s pace the entire evening.  The music was a loud, hard hitting, take no prisoners joy ride. This was going to be a hard rocking party…and Van Halen at their best.

With original bassist Michael Anthony having been replaced by Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang in 2007, there are still a few contingents of fans that scoff at the current lineup, but their arguments grow fainter and fainter as the younger Van Halen has obviously been studying at the feet of his masters for the last five years.  The then sixteen year old on tour in 2007 is now twenty-one, and those five years of experience are quite evident.  The more straight forward bass lines of five years ago have been replaced with Wolfgang’s own touch, as well a much greater contribution and range in the area of backing vocals.  There’s something to be said about genetic harmonies this father and son are spot on. Wolfie is slowly starting to make his own mark, and at the rate he’s going, fewer and fewer folks will continue clamoring for the return of Anthony.  Wolfgang Van Halen is that, a Van Halen; not just a member of the family, a legit member of the band.

The band rocked through hits from every Roth era recording, including “Everybody wants Some”, “Somebody get me Doctor”,  as well as their covers of the Roy Orbison classic “Oh, Pretty Woman” and “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks.  The DC crowd was also treated to two new additions to the set list, “Jamie’s Cryin” and “Hang ‘Em High”, the latter being played for just the second time on the current tour.

Of course, it just wouldn’t be a Van Halen show without “Diamond Dave” letting the audience know at some point  “I forgot the f—ing words”; on this night, it was during “I’ll Wait” from the multi-platinum album 1984.  One has to wonder at times how many of these lyrical hiccups are legitimate and how many are standard Roth shtick, but the crowd seems to love it either way.  “Just chase me to the chorus”, exclaimed Roth as he extended the microphone toward the adoring throng.

The first opportunity anyone had to catch their breath was provided by Roth, who strummed some delightful acoustic guitar pieces and discussed his life and his dogs while video of his canines in action displayed on the massive LED screen above.  The vignettes led into a cover of John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man”, which would be quickly followed by crowd favorite “Panama”.

With the wails of Roth’s “Panama” vocals still ringing throughout the venue, the moment had come in the show that every axe man and air guitar player in attendance had waited for.  The snare hits and floor tom rolls followed by the cymbal crash and power chords meant only one thing, ”Eruption”; the seminal Eddie Van Halen guitar solo that appeared on the band’s self titled first release.  This version would be special, as the master wove a “tap”estry  of some of his best instrumental pieces including “Cathedral” and “Spanish Fly” into the showcase, demonstrating the innovative skills and techniques that have made Eddie Van Halen the guitar standard by which all rock guitarists are judged for the last 35 plus years.

The rest of the band returned for a rousing rendition of “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” followed by the evening’s closer “Jump”, complete with showers of confetti throughout the arena.

While this tour may be to promote A Different Kind of Truth, what it may really be doing is reinforcing something the world has known for the last 35 plus years.  There aren’t many artists that can remotely compare to a live Van Halen show…that’s the truth.