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Singer David Lee Roth and guitarist Eddie Van Halen stay close during their June 9, 2012 concert at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Harrell)

By Gerry Gittelson, Special to the Daily News

Posted:   06/11/2012 01:51:01 PM PDT | Updated:   06/11/2012 02:00:15 PM PDT

Whenever legendary rock band Van Halen returns to Los Angeles, it feels like a homecoming celebration. | More Van Halen show photos

Except for this past Saturday before a capacity crowd at Staples Center. This one felt more like a goodbye party.

Three weeks ago, it was announced Van Halen had canceled the final 30 dates of its summer tour without explanation — the last stop is now June 26 in New Orleans — amid persistent rumblings the band was not getting along. That’s easy to believe considering Van Halen’s dysfunctional past that has seen ultra-charismatic frontman David Lee Roth leave twice before returning in 2007.

So fans at Staples Center were wondering if this might be it. There’s no guarantee Van Halen will ever return, and for a hard-rock band that formed 35 years ago and continues to thrive on its energetic performances, comebacks become increasingly difficult thanks of the cruel realities of the calendar.

“It would be a shame if this was the last one, the last time,” said Ira Goldstein, 48, a Birmingham High graduate now working as a publisher in Woodland Hills. “Van Halen is a great band, and they need to put their egos aside.”

Goldstein and his wife, Amber, paid $1,500 for a VIP package that included close seats, a soundcheck visit, free drinks and some nice swag.

“When we first heard about all the cancellations, we were concerned because we had spent a lot of money and were wondering if they were going to finish the tour at all,” Goldstein said.

There were the diehards that never miss a Van Halen show. This time, a few minutes before the start of the show, they weren’t just utterly enthusiastic but a little sentimental, too.

“I love Van Halen. I’ve been seeing them since I was in high school going back to the ’70s,” said Dave Reed, 51, of Orange. “I paid a lot of money for tonight, but considering everything, it’s going to be worth it. I went all out.”

If indeed this was Van Halen’s last Los Angeles concert, the foursome did not disappoint. The goup played 24 songs beginning with “Unchained” and finishing two hours later with “Jump,” and every selection was a winner.

On “Everybody Wants Some,” Roth was at his lascivious best. On “Panama,” Alex Van Halen was hitting the drums so hard that you could feel the beats against your skin. On “Runnin’ With the Devil,” bassist Wolfgang Van Halen was standing on the stage riser for the intro riff, pounding the strings for all he was worth.

And on the extended guitar solo “Eruption,” Eddie Van Halen — Wolfgang’s father — was his usual amazing self, once again proving he is, unquestionably, among the very best in world. His fingers were like a blur, and the sounds were beautiful.

The crowd ate it up.

Everyone was singing along to “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” and “The Cradle Will Rock,” and even the selections from new CD “A Different Kind of Truth” went over well, particularly “Tattoo.”

Van Halen came, they saw, they conquered. In turn, we paid money, swilled beer and pumped our fists. A perfect night of rock ‘n’ roll from one of America’s all-time most popular bands.

But as Roth sang such memorable lyrics as “Dance The Night Away,” we had to wonder if this was, indeed, the last dance. Here’s hoping there is more life in Van Halen, but just in case we’ll store this particular evening among the special memories.